Natural Horizons Wellness Centers | 11230 Waples Mill Rd., Suite 125 | Fairfax, VA 22030   » Get Directions

Call Us Today!


Bookmark and Share

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing 

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful psychotherapy technique that has been very successful in helping people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, post traumatic stress, and many other emotional problems. Until recently, these conditions were difficult and time-consuming to treat. EMDR is considered a breakthrough therapy because of its simplicity and the fact that it can bring quick and lasting relief for most types of emotional distress.

The EMDR technique uses a natural function of the body, rapid eye movement, or REM, as its basis. The human mind uses REM during sleep time to help it process daily emotional experiences. When trauma is extreme, this process breaks down and REM sleep doesn’t bring the usual relief from distress. This is where EMDR comes in. As troubling images and feelings are processed by the brain via the eye-movement patterns of EMDR, resolution of the issues and a more peaceful state are achieved. 

How Does EMDR Work?

When disturbing experiences happen, they are stored in the brain with all the sights, sounds, thoughts and feelings that accompany it. When a person is very upset, the brain seems to be unable to process the experience as it would normally. Therefore, the negative thoughts and feelings of the traumatic event are “trapped” in the nervous system. Since the brain cannot process these emotions, the experience and/or its accompanying feelings are often suppressed from consciousness. However, the distress lives on in the nervous system where it causes disturbances in the emotional functioning of the person.

The EMDR technique does two very important things. First, it “unlocks” the negative memories and emotions stored in the nervous system, and second, it helps the brain to successfully process the experience.

The therapist works gently with the client, guiding her her/him to revisit the traumatic incident. When the memory is brought to mind, the feelings are re-experienced in a new way. EMDR makes it possible to gain the self-knowledge and perspective that will enable the client to choose her/his actions, rather than feeling powerless over one’s re-actions. This process can be complex if there are many experiences connected to the negative feelings. The EMDR therapy sessions continue until the traumatic memories and emotions are relieved.

Advantages of EMDR Therapy

Research studies show that EMDR is very effective in helping people process emotionally painful and traumatic experiences. When used in conjunction with other therapy modalities, EMDR helps move the client quickly from emotional distress to peaceful resolution of the issues or events involved. Studies consistently show that treatment with EMDR results in elimination of the targeted emotion. The memory remains, but the negative response is neutralized. 

What Happens During an EMDR Session?

Just as EMDR assists the brain with its natural processing of emotional information, the EMDR therapist assists the client in their healing process by becoming a partner on a journey to release past trauma from the client’s nervous system.

A typical EMDR session begins with the therapist gently guiding the client to pinpoint a problem or event that will be the target of the treatment. As the thoughts and feelings come to the surface, the therapist and client work together to re-direct the eye movements that accompany the briefly recalled experience. As the eye movements are re-directed, the accompanying emotions are released.

The patterns of eye movements continue until the emotions are neutralized and the event is re-associated with positive thoughts and feelings about oneself, such as “I realize now that it wasn’t my fault.”

Is EMDR Hypnosis?

No. During the EMDR session, the client is awake and alert and in control at all times. The healing that takes place with EMDR is much faster than with hypnotherapy. However, like hypnosis EMDR seems to work with the unconscious mind, bringing into consciousness the repressed thoughts and feelings that must be experienced again in order to release their energetic hold on the person. 

How Often Do I Need  EMDR Therapy? 

Typically an EMDR session lasts from 60-90 minutes. The length of the session depends upon a number of factors, including the nature and history of the issue, the degree of trauma, the specific circumstances on that particular day, etc.

 The history and evaluations are usually done in a few sessions. Then, in some cases, where a single recent traumatic event is involved, a single session of EMDR may be all that is required. However, a more typical course of treatment is somewhere between 5-15 sessions, usually on a weekly basis. For individuals with a history of multiple painful experiences and years of feeling bad about them, a number of EMDR sessions may be needed. 

Is EMDR Right For Me?

There are several things to consider to determine if Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is right for you.  You may be a good candidate if you have:

  • Depression or disturbing thoughts   
  • A history of abuse     
  • Severe anxiety   
  • Frequent feelings of guilt or shame   
  • Poor concentration or memory   
  • Explosive or irrational anger   
  • Trouble sleeping   
  • Been through a natural disaster   
  • Obsessive or compulsive behavior   
  • Chronic feelings of detachment   
  • Extreme, unexplainable fears
  • Ever experienced a traumatic event
  • Difficulty trusting people
  • Fear of being alone
  • Lack of motivation
  • Serious relationship problems

Schedule an Appointment

To learn more about the benefits of EMDR or to schedule an appointment with Jacques de Broekert, please contact Natural Horizons at 1-877-292-1571.