What is EMDR therapy?

EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that involves the patient recalling past disturbing memories while focusing on subtle eye movements with the guidance of a specially trained therapist. This approach lessens trauma symptoms like emotional distress and mental blockages.

Although EMDR therapy is a fairly new treatment approach for post-traumatic stress disorder and other traumas, it has been extensively researched and endorsed by, among many established institutions, the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization.

How does EMDR therapy treat trauma?

EMDR therapy focuses on the patient’s past events; current issues that have arisen as a result of the trauma and resulting worldview and identity; and development of healthy skills for dealing with future actions and wellness. Generally, an individualized plan is formulated over eight sessions.

Researchers are not quite sure how EMDR therapy works on the brain, but evidence suggests that it changes the way your brain processes information. When a disturbing or very painful event happens to you, your body and mind can essentially get “stuck in time.”

The sounds, sights, and feelings you have during the traumatic occurrence can trigger intense fear, nightmares, and flashbacks. When you come across certain emotions and senses associated with that event again, your body responds in much the same way that it did the first time the trauma occurred.

With EMDR therapy, your brain learns to reprocess and store the information more appropriately so that you are no longer “frozen” in the event.

What happens during an EMDR therapy session?

There are usually eight sessions within EMDR therapy treatment, but people who experience multiple traumas can benefit from more sessions.
During the first session, the counselor takes a history of your mental health background and the events that led you to seek professional assistance. Using this information, the counselor works with you to develop a treatment plan for the following weeks.

You will receive an explanation of what you’ll be experiencing and self-soothing ways to mentally prepare for your treatment and any distressing emotions that arise. We will make sure you leave the treatment with the tools necessary to healthily manage your emotions and symptoms.


During the bulk of EMDR therapy, you’ll be asked to identify a negative belief about yourself, the visual image related to the memory, and any physical sensations you experience when you recall the event. You do not necessarily have to disclose the painful events in great detail for Joshua and the team at Luminous Counseling & Consulting for them to help you.

The counselor then leads you in a series of eye movements while you talk through your emotions. This is known as “dual attention stimuli” and is the crux of EMDR therapy.

It is important to come to every therapy meeting for the best results. You may be asked to keep a log of any related feelings that arise when you are not in session.

Can EMDR therapy treat other conditions besides PTSD or trauma?

There’s anecdotal evidence that EMDR therapy is useful for helping people who suffer from phobias, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, but empirical data haven’t confirmed this. A few studies have shown that EMDR therapy is helpful for alleviating symptoms in patients who have schizophrenia.

If you find that post-traumatic stress disorder or trauma is negatively impacting your life, or if you want to find out if your panic attacks or phobia can be treated with EMDR therapy, call Luminous Counseling & Consulting (256) 686-9195 or book online today.