What Is EMDR Therapy?

What Is EMDR Therapy?

What Is EMDR Therapy?

Psychologist Francine Shapiro, PhD, first developed EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) for the remedy of post-traumatic stress dysfunction in 1987. Thirty-five years later, EMDR remedy has turn into increasingly mainstream—and is used not just for the remedy of PTSD but additionally to alleviate numerous psychological well being situations.

After going by a extreme sickness that required her to hunt bodily and psychological therapeutic, licensed psychotherapist Luz Kyncl started to analyze psychotherapy remedy modalities for herself. That’s when she found EMDR—and the outcomes had been so efficient, she determined to review and incorporate it into her personal observation to assist her purchasers.

A Q&A with Luz Kyncl, LCSW


What is EMDR?
Eye motion desensitization and reprocessing is a psychotherapy modality designed to assist relieve stress related to traumatic reminiscences and the adverse beliefs linked with the reminiscence. It makes use of a mixture of speak remedy and bilateral stimulation, like eye actions, to take action.

How does it work?
The neuroscience behind EMDR continues to be rising, so scientists aren’t fairly positive what’s occurring within the mind. But an rising idea is centered round the place reminiscences are saved within the mind.

Theoretically, it really works like this: Similar to our physique, our thoughts is designed to heal itself naturally. The therapeutic mechanisms principally happen whereas we’re sleeping, significantly throughout REM (fast eye motion) sleep, the place emotional processing and reminiscence consolidation happens.

But when an occasion is just too overwhelming or traumatic for a person to course of, like repeated misery as a consequence of childhood abuse or neglect, the processing throughout sleep is just not sufficient, and the reminiscence stays unprocessed.

Unprocessed reminiscences are saved within the emotional reminiscence a part of the mind—the limbic system—as an alternative of within the cortex, the place reminiscences are saved utilizing language. When saved within the limbic system, reminiscences might be simply triggered, inflicting the individual to repeatedly activate the emotional stress and the adverse beliefs which can be related to the reminiscence.

For instance, if somebody has an unlucky historical past of childhood abuse, they might have disturbing reminiscences of the abuse and repressed beliefs it created, like “I’m powerless” and “I’m unlovable.” As an grownup, once they hear somebody increase their voice, it may well set off an emotional response related to the reminiscences and beliefs that they’re powerless and unlovable. And they’re prone to act in a means that displays that perception.

EMDR remedy makes use of eye actions, like these throughout REM sleep, to assist launch an emotional reminiscence from the limbic system so it may be saved within the language heart of the mind, the place it may well turn into extra like a impartial reminiscence of an occasion prior to now. And it creates optimistic beliefs to affiliate with the reminiscence. After EMDR remedy, the reminiscence continues to be current, however it’s much less distressing and saved as impartial reminiscence of an occasion prior to now.

What occurs throughout an EMDR remedy session?
EMDR remedy includes a mixture of speak remedy and eye actions. If, when, and the way EMDR is utilized in a session will depend on the consumer. If a consumer requests EMDR, I take advantage of the remedy instantly in a session. Other occasions, I spend an extended time attending to know my consumer and their issues, then I consider whether or not EMDR could be useful.

EMDR remedy is carried out in eight levels:


History and remedy planning: A consumer’s historical past is assessed, and a remedy plan is developed to handle the traumatic reminiscences that have to be processed.


Preparation: The consumer and therapist set up an alliance and set expectations for what’s to return within the session. After the EMDR course of is completely defined, the consumer’s issues and questions are addressed and coping methods are created to assist the consumer handle emotional stress that may come up in the course of the remedy.


Assessment: During this part, the unprocessed reminiscence is recognized and re-created utilizing photographs, emotions, sensations, and beliefs. To assess the effectiveness of the remedy, baseline measurements of the unprocessed reminiscence are taken utilizing subjective items of misery (SUD) and validity of cognition (VOC).

SUD is a scale of 0 to 10 that measures the depth of misery skilled by the consumer. It is used to guage the emotional depth earlier than and after the remedy.

VOC is used to measure the underlying beliefs related to the reminiscence. VOC is a scale of 1 to seven, one indicating that the idea is totally unbelievable and 7 representing that it’s solely plausible.


Desensitization: The eye motion course of begins at this part because the consumer focuses on the back-and-forth actions of the therapist’s fingers (or one other object of selection) whereas they consider the traumatic reminiscence. SUD is measured throughout this course of to evaluate how the remedy is progressing. This course of continues till the SUD decreases to zero (or one when acceptable) and new ideas, photographs, emotions, and sensations emerge.


Installation: A optimistic perception, which the consumer chooses, is linked with the focused reminiscence and bolstered till it feels utterly true to the consumer.


Body scan: This part reveals any lingering misery. While pondering of each the reminiscence and the newly created optimistic perception, the consumer observes sensations within the physique from head to toe. If any pressure is felt, this means extra processing of the reminiscence must happen, and the desensitization part is repeated.


Closure: Before ending the session, the therapist helps the consumer attain a state of calm and recalibrate to the current second. Reprocessing is full when the consumer has impartial emotions towards the reminiscence, which implies SUD is zero; the newly created optimistic perception feels utterly true to the consumer (or their VOC is seven); and the physique is obvious of misery related to the precise reminiscence.


Reevaluation: Each further session begins with an analysis of the not too long ago processed reminiscence to find out whether or not the misery stays low and the optimistic perception related to the reminiscence continues to be sturdy.

Who can profit from EMDR remedy?
EMDR has been confirmed to be very efficient for therapeutic trauma, and it may well usually give leads to considerably much less time than speak remedy alone. But a consumer should be open to experiencing intense emotions and disturbing ideas that may come up in the course of the classes.

It’s been successfully used to treat:

  • Anxiety and panic assaults
  • Phobias
  • Chronic sickness and medical points
  • Depression and bipolar issues
  • Addictions
  • Anger
  • Pain (together with phantom limb ache)
  • Performance anxiousness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Feelings of worthlessness and low shallowness
  • Trauma ensuing from sexual assault, violence, and abuse
  • Psychosis
  • PTSD and CPTSD
  • Eating issues

Where can somebody discover an EMDR therapist?
You can go to the EMDR International Association website to discover a skilled EMDR therapist in your space.
Luz Kyncl, LCSW, CHC, MBCT, is a licensed psychotherapist, an authorized well-being coach, and the creator of Liberate Yourself: Your Past Is Not Your Prison. With certifications in cognitive behavioral remedy (CBT) and eye motion desensitization reprocessing (EMDR), she integrates each conscious modality in her observe in Los Angeles the place she makes a specialty of despair, anxiousness, and childhood trauma. She can be the founding father of the Kyncl Family Foundation.

This article is for informational functions solely, even when and no matter whether or not it options the recommendation of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is just not, neither is it supposed to be, an alternative choice to the skilled medical recommendation, analysis, or remedy and will by no means be relied upon for particular medical recommendation. The views expressed in this article are the views of the professional and don’t essentially characterize the views of our website.



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