FAQs About EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy is a type of talk psychotherapy that uses dual cognitive functions to alter the way the brain processes certain stimuli. While somewhat similar to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), it works to change the way the brain absorbs the memory, changing the memory itself, instead of changing the response to the memory. 

It is most commonly used in trauma therapy and to treat PTSD. 

Who Is A Good Candidate For EMDR Therapy?

Patients with PTSD are good candidates for this type of therapy. It can also help people who have experienced trauma without necessarily showing signs of PTSD. EMDR therapy can treat patients with a wide range of anxiety, including phobias and OCD. It can also include patients with depression. 

Talk to your therapist to determine if EMDR therapy may be an option for you. 

What Happens During an EMDR Therapy Session?

There is a structured 8-step process to EMDR therapy:

Stage One: Initial Meeting

The patient and doctor meet. During this meeting, the patient will explain their mental health goals. The therapist will determine if they think EMDR therapy is an appropriate technique. 

Stage Two: Preparation

The therapist will explain the process and teach the patient coping mechanisms.

Stage Three: Control

The therapist will evoke the negative stimulus to gauge the patient's reaction. 

Stage Four: Desensitization

With the patient thinking about the memory, the therapist will incorporate a simple, stress-free cognitive task, such as following a pen with the eyes.

Stage Five: Installation

While performing the second cognitive function, the therapist will install the preferred cognitive reaction slowly but surely.

Stage Six: Body Scan

The therapist will examine the patient for signs of anxiety.

Stage Seven: Closure

Once anxiety levels reach a certain level, the doctor will end the session. Sessions usually last 30 seconds a time in the beginning and grow with time gradually, as opposed to exposure therapy.

Stage Eight: Re-evaluation

After the experience, the patient and therapist will discuss the results to determine its success. 

How Long Does it Take EMDR Therapy to Work?

Many patients report success after just a few months of EMDR therapy. However, results vary based on the person. After a few months of dedicated EMDR therapy, talk to your therapist about your results and about exploring other options. 

Benefits of EMDR Therapy

Some of the reported benefits of EMDR therapy compared to other options include:

  • High success rate
  • No requirement to detail the trauma
  • Long-lasting results
  • No medication necessary (although your therapist may suggest including medication as well)