How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR can help clients reprocess trauma. When traumatic events happen, the brain can have difficulty processing information as it normally does. Information associated with the trauma can become “frozen” or “scattered” throughout the mind and the body due to the natural fight, flight, or freeze response.

By bringing up the traumatic memory in a safe and supportive atmosphere and then utilizing both side of the brain with bilateral stimulation like eye movements, sounds, or tactile sensations, the memory will still be there, but it may have less intensity following the EMDR sessions. This can also help clients gain additional insights about what happened.

How Long Does EMDR Take?

One or more sessions are required to assess whether EMDR is appropriate for a client. The type of trauma presented and the amount of previous trauma affecting a client may determine how many EMDR sessions will be needed. EMDR can also be used in addition to standard talk therapy.

For more information about EMDR,
please see the following:

EMDR Institute Inc.,
founded by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1990

“Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures”
Dr. Francine Shapiro


EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) was first discovered by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987. It is a clinically studied psychotherapy approach that she developed to help clients with various types of “small," “large," and "cumulative" traumas.

Small traumas include more common everyday events, which are upsetting but are not always considered traumatic, even though they have a lasting impact on how we interact with the world. Some examples of small traumas include the following:

• Bullying/Teasing
• Car Accidents
• Death of a Pet
• Divorce
• Loss of a Job

Large traumas are more severe than small traumas and can lead to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Some examples of large traumas include the following:

• Acts of Violence, Abuse, and Neglect
• Rape
• War Combat
• Natural Disasters

Some examples of cumulative traumas, also leading to PTSD, include the following:

• Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, etc.
• Multiple Military Deployments
• Repeated Abuse

Symptoms of PTSD can include the following:

• Anxiety/Hypervigilance
• Depression
• Panic Attacks
• Physical Pain
• Reoccurring Thoughts
• Sleep/Eating Disturbances
• Social Withdrawal

EMDR can help with various traumatic events in the past, but it can also be utilized for distressing situations in the present (e.g. a difficult boss, stress reduction) and for building skills and attitudes for more positive future action (e.g. public speaking, a job interview).

Copyright © 2015 Lynne Rafool Bidwell.
All Rights Reserved.