Individual Therapy

EMDR Therapy

What is EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a highly effective, evidence-based, 8-phase therapy. It was initially developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro for the treatment of trauma-related conditions like PTSD, but it has also been found effective in conditions such as anxiety and depression. Avance Care Behavioral Health therapists use EMDR to help individuals heal from traumatic experiences, distressing memories, and various mental health issues causing troublesome symptoms in their day-to-day life.

How it Works

When someone goes through difficulties and trauma, the memories of those difficulties do not get properly stored in the brain. Instead, these improperly processed memories become “blocks” to every day thinking, feeling, and functioning. These “blocks” get stuck in the brain and body as negative thoughts and emotional and physical distress, leading to recurrent struggles with past memories, present/current day triggers, and future worries.

Unlike conventional talk therapy, EMDR uses “bilateral stimulation” (BLS) to help the brain and body reprocess the trauma or distressing experiences. BLS is a technique that activates the left and right sides of the brain and body in a back and forth rhythm. It is thought that BLS causes similar processing effects to eye movements in REM sleep, allowing faster and more effective processing of information.

EMDR therapy allows clients to come to their own healing and insights based on the helpful information that their brain is already holding, but unable to use due to being “blocked.” (Sometimes, the brain is so blocked that it doesn’t know it has helpful information. This is normal!) Going through the EMDR process automatically brings the helpful information out through the blocks as memories are reprocessed, because the brain and body naturally want to heal.

EMDR clears out the “blocks” by accessing the memories, processing the distress and negative thoughts so they are no longer bothersome, and allowing the newly reprocessed memories to be properly stored with the helpful information attached.

Overall, EMDR is used to help clients reprocess memories from the past, triggers that exist in the present, and help plan for future situations.

Additional information about EMDR is available from EMDR International Association and this informative article.




The following video is provided courtesy of EMDR International Association.



Avance Behavioral Health at Centers of Excellence

Alies Barton, MSW, LCSW

Avance Behavioral Health at Centers of Excellence

Kenia Martinez, MSW,LCSW,

Avance Behavioral Health at Centers of Excellence

Dylan Newton, MSW, LCSWA

Frequently Asked Questions

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