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EMDR as a Relational Psychotherapy:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been developed, practiced and researched in clinical settings for more than 30 years.  EMDR is a relational, goal oriented and collaborative process between client and therapist.   This work is about creating lasting changes while greatly improving one's sense of self and quality of life. 


EMDR allows your body's natural healing system make sense of, learn from and integrate previous life experiences that are contributing to current problems.  It is an effective treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and any other problems that are rooted in memory:  childhood abuse and neglect, childhood sexual abuse, ongoing domestic or emotional abuse, racial injustices/ trauma, transgenerational trauma, repeated micro-aggressions, bullying, moral injury, and more. 

EMDR for the treatment of trauma and PTSD is backed by extensive evidence-based research and has provided relief of emotional and psychological distress for millions of people.  Continued research is being conducted regarding use of EMDR to treat depression, substance abuse, anxiety, OCD and other mental health symptoms and problems.  

EMDR for Recent Traumatic Events:

When something happens that is overwhelming, EMDR can be used immediately and short-term to reduce stress symptoms, greatly improve functioning, and prevent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and phobias from setting in.  These protocols were designed for use during humanitarian efforts to prevent PTSD in war-torn countries and where natural disasters have taken place.  They are used to help our first responders clear out the accumulation of calls that will otherwise cause long-term emotional and physical suffering.  Experiences such as automobile accidents, sudden loss of a loved one, invasive medical procedures or diagnosis, assault, and other major and unexpected life events are often treated successfully using a recent event protocol.

Video introduction about EMDR, also can be found on the EMDRIA.ORG website link near the bottom of this page:

Phases of Treatment:

EMDR has eight phases of treatment that can be done rapidly or at a slow pace depending on each individual's needs, resilience, and what is agreed upon between client and therapist.  Not every phase is described here, but rather a general overview of the treatment in brief:  

Relational EMDR therapy is a collaborative process that begins with talking about your current struggles and symptoms, past related history, and formulating a clear idea of the changes you would like to make for yourself.  Next, the work focuses on helping you learn and practice strategies to help you cope with painful and uncomfortable emotions, thoughts and memories as they arise.  

When you and your therapist agree that you are ready to process memories that are connected to the current problem, the therapist provides the support needed during memory processing so that you can bring an adaptive resolution to the past event(s).  This means that what happened in the past is no longer bothersome.  You will have healed and gained new insight and understanding.  After past events are resolved or "reprocessed," the focus shifts to helping you handle present and future scenarios the way that you would like to.  Often once memory processing begins, people begin to notice shifts in how they feel and respond day to day.

Finding the Right EMDR Therapist:

It is important that you find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable, one that is properly trained, and continues to meet certain professional standards. 

The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) is the established organization of mental health professionals that maintains standards of practice, training, and certification requirements for EMDR practitioners with int the United States.   EMDRIA is also involved in maintaining standards within up-to-date EMDR research.   In order to find out if the person you are considering working with has the proper training, some questions to ask include: 

How often do you use EMDR with your clients?  There are clinicians who are trained in EMDR, however it is not their main modality and they are not fluent in EMDR.  An "EMDR therapist" is one who consistently uses the EMDR lens throughout their work with all of their clients.  


When were you trained in EMDR and was the training provided by an EMDRIA-approved training institute/consultant?  Clinicians not trained by an EMDRIA-approved body have not received the established "standard" of training.  

Are you receiving ongoing individual or group consultation provided by an EMDRIA-approved consultant(s) or Consultants in Craining (CIT's)?  When therapists receive ongoing consultation with other professionals, they have the opportunity to obtain guidance to more effectively help their clients.   

Are you obtaining EMDR continuing education credits (CEUs) through an EMDRIA-approved resource?  CEU's are acquired through course study and in-person training.  This   helps therapists deepen their knowledge, enhance their skills, and keep up-to-date with standards of practice as well as new research.

For more detailed information regarding EMDR psychotherapy and EMDRIA, click here and select options from the Resources tab:    

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