Understanding EMDR: A Comprehensive Guide to Its Stages and Process

February 20, 2024

What is EMDR?

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a psychotherapy approach that was originally used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but has now developed into a treatment that can help with a variety of mental health issues. It was developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s and has since gained widespread recognition and acceptance as an effective treatment for trauma.

EMDR therapy, known for its effectiveness in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), offers a versatile approach to healing by reprocessing traumatic memories. Beyond PTSD, EMDR can address an array of psychological and emotional challenges, including anxiety disorders, depression, addictions, grief and loss, panic attacks, dissociative disorders, phobias, performance anxiety, self-esteem issues, chronic pain, relationship problems, and stress management. By delving into the underlying traumatic experiences and negative beliefs associated with these issues, EMDR empowers individuals to confront and heal from their past, often leading to significant improvements in mental and emotional well-being.

While it may not be suitable for everyone, consulting with an experienced EMDR therapist can help determine its appropriateness for a specific concern.

EMDR therapy is based on the idea that traumatic experiences can become "stuck" in the brain's information processing system, leading to the development of PTSD symptoms. The therapy aims to help individuals process traumatic memories and reduce the emotional distress associated with them. Here's the 8 phases EMDR can be used for PTSD:


  1. Assessment: 

This initial phase begins with the therapist conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the individual's trauma history, symptoms, and current mental health status. This thorough assessment serves as the foundation for determining whether EMDR is a suitable treatment approach tailored to the individual's unique needs.

  1. Preparation:

Before embarking on the journey of reprocessing traumatic memories, the therapist collaboratively works with the individual to establish a profound sense of safety and emotional regulation. Together, they meticulously craft coping strategies designed to skillfully manage any distressing emotions that may emerge during the EMDR process.

  1. Desensitization and Reprocessing:

At the heart of EMDR therapy lies this central phase. Here, the individual courageously revisits traumatic memories while concurrently engaging in bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation may manifest in diverse forms, including side-to-side eye movements, tapping, or auditory cues. The overarching objective is to invigorate the brain's innate processing of the traumatic memory, systematically diminishing its distressing and overwhelming impact.

  1. Resourcing:

Throughout the therapeutic journey, individuals are thoughtfully taught techniques to fortify their inner resources. These invaluable tools encompass self-soothing and grounding exercises, steadfastly providing essential support during the challenging task of processing traumatic memories.

  1. Installation:

An empowering phase that introduces and fortifies positive beliefs and self-perceptions. These constructive cognitions are intentionally reinforced, gradually supplanting the negative self-beliefs interwoven with the trauma. This transformation nurtures the development of a more adaptive self-concept and belief system, fostering resilience and growth.

  1. Body Scan:

To ensure the thorough processing of the traumatic memory, the therapist adeptly guides the individual in addressing any lingering physical tension or sensations linked to the trauma. This meticulous attention ensures that every facet of the traumatic memory is carefully and completely processed, leaving no emotional residue behind.

  1. Closure:

Each EMDR session concludes with the individual returning to a state of emotional equilibrium and stability. Coping strategies are thoughtfully reaffirmed, equipping the individual to gracefully manage any potential distress that may surface between sessions. This phase serves as a vital bridge between the intense work of EMDR therapy and the individual's everyday life.

  1. Reevaluation:

Progress remains an ongoing focus as the therapist continuously monitors the individual's journey. A diligent assessment is made regarding whether the traumatic memory has been successfully reprocessed. If deemed necessary, additional sessions are thoughtfully scheduled to address any remaining distress or unresolved aspects of the trauma, ensuring that individuals receive the tailored care essential to their path of healing and recovery.

EMDR for PTSD at Soho Integrative Psychological Services

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a highly effective therapeutic approach specifically designed to address post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This evidence-based therapy focuses on the core of PTSD—the traumatic memories themselves. Through a structured process that incorporates bilateral stimulation, often in the form of guided eye movements, EMDR helps individuals reprocess these traumatic memories, reducing distressing symptoms and their emotional impact.

EMDR is known for its efficiency, often producing rapid and lasting results, while minimizing the need for individuals to provide detailed verbal accounts of their traumatic experiences.

This therapeutic method takes a holistic approach, addressing both the emotional and physiological aspects of trauma, making it a powerful tool for individuals seeking relief from the burdens of PTSD and its associated symptoms.

At Soho Integrative Psychological Services, we recognize the profound impact of trauma on mental health and are committed to providing specialized care. Our experienced and licensed therapists are trained in EMDR therapy, ensuring that individuals receive safe and effective treatment tailored to their unique needs. We offer a structured and supportive environment for those seeking relief from the burdens of trauma-related conditions, helping them embark on a path towards healing and a higher quality of life. Our commitment to excellence in EMDR therapy reflects our dedication to the well-being and recovery of our clients, empowering them to regain control and move forward on their journey to emotional and psychological healing.

Our trauma experts
February 20, 2024