EMDR Therapy


If talking about your pain hasn’t helped, maybe you’re considering EMDR therapy.

Have you been through a difficult or traumatic event?

Are you having trouble getting rid of negative thoughts?

Maybe you are replaying events from the past, unable to get them out of your mind.

You may be wondering if you’ll ever get better. If you have tried trauma treatment in the past and it hasn’t worked, EMDR therapy can help.

After going through a trauma or significant stressor, you may find that you have trouble turning your mind off. You may be more irritable, have trouble concentrating or you may be struggling to be present. Or you might even have difficulty sleeping or have a change in your sleep schedule. Perhaps new physical symptoms have started to appear. You recognize that you need support, but you aren’t sure if now is the right time. Therapy may be something you are putting off for the future, but things aren’t getting better. If talk therapy or medication haven’t been effective, you may be wondering if things will ever improve.

And now that the pandemic has started, therapy has been put on the back burner. COVID-19 is affecting everyone in different ways and if you are struggling, you are not alone. The pandemic is creating stress for many people and if you have been through trauma or anxiety before, isolation and fear could be making things worse. You may be dealing with parenting or financial stressors. Or perhaps anxiety about your health is heightened. Working through your feelings and emotions is more important now than ever.

Maybe you have heard about eye movement therapy as a PTSD treatment from people you know, but you don’t understand how it works.

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR is an evidence-based therapy that stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This is a mouthful, but what you need to know is that EMDR uses eye movements or tapping on either side of the body. The back-and-forth movement (also known as bi-lateral stimulation) allows your brain to work through trapped emotions and memories that you may not be able to access otherwise.

EMDR has been around since the 1980s and is now widely used. EMDR has been studied in numerous clinical trials and it is shown to have up to an 80% success rate. EMDR is known as a treatment for PTSD and trauma, but EMDR therapy has also been found to effectively treat depression, anxiety, OCD and phobias.

When we experience a stressful event, our brain doesn’t process it correctly and we often relive this experience over and over again. The fear center of your brain is over-activated. This is where EMDR therapy comes in. By working with the brain’s natural neuroplasticity, EMDR is able to help strengthen new neural pathways. This helps your brain to start working correctly so you can process trauma in a healthy way and begin the healing process.

What an EMDR Session is Like

In EMDR treatment, we will spend time preparing by talking through past experiences, memories and difficult events. In a safe, comfortable setting, your EMDR therapist will ask you to think about something that feels triggering, as well as a negative belief that you have like, “I did something wrong” or “I am not safe.” We will help you to talk through these in a very careful way.

Your therapist will help you to think about a memory while using eye movement or other bi-lateral stimulation. This process engages both sides of your brain and allows your brain to process the painful memory differently so that the event will invoke less emotion. While you are subconsciously focused on the bi-lateral movement, you are less likely to feel negative emotions as strongly. The goal with an EMDR therapy session is to allow you to think about the memory or event, but not feel stuck in it. You can learn how to let go of painful emotions more easily. EMDR treatment can also help you remember things about an event, but you are awake and conscious throughout the session.

You May Still Have Questions About EMDR Therapy

What Can EMDR Therapy Be Used For? 

EMDR therapy was developed originally as a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) therapy, but over time it has been used effectively for a number of different things. In our practice, we use EMDR therapy to treat: anxiety, chronic pain, health conditions, problems sleeping, trauma and phobias. Emerging studies show EMDR’s efficacy with various psychological disorders that involve negative thought patterns. We integrate EMDR therapy with other modalities.

EMDR has been successfully used with all ages, including children and teens, ages 4-18. EMDR therapy can be helpful with children and teens who may not want to talk about their feelings, but still need to process challenging emotions.

Can EMDR Be Done Online?

EMDR therapy can be done online safely and effectively. Your therapist will guide you through using a program for bi-lateral stimulation by using eye movements. The best part is that you have the familiarity of your own home and many clients feel more comfortable in their own environment. There is no stress of travelling to an office, looking for parking and battling traffic when EMDR is done online.

Is EMDR Therapy Safe?

Yes, EMDR Therapy is known to be very safe and has fewer side effects than any medication. Many clients feel lighter and better after a session. Some clients report feeling tired after EMDR treatment and many people sleep soundly the night after a processing session.  Your therapist will help you to safely work through any emotions that come up during EMDR therapy.

How Our Approach is Different

We use knowledge of neuroscience as a tool to improve your EMDR therapy outcome. Our understanding of how the brain works helps us to guide you for more success in your EMDR session.

In our practice, we understand the importance of bottom-up processing when it comes to trauma. Bottom-up refers to therapy that works with the lower parts of the brain and the body’s sensations. Typical top-down processing works with thoughts and logic. When we experience trauma, the top parts of our brain may not be working as well as they should and top-down work is less effective. A bottom-up approach can help manage the hyperarousal that a traumatized brain can exhibit. We have helped our clients by using an integrative approach to achieve the best outcome. We also incorporate mindfulness and other relaxation techniques that complement EMDR.

EMDR Therapy Can Help You Find Relief

If you have tried to get rid of anxiety, negative thoughts or painful memories, you don’t have to stay stuck. Talk to us about EMDR therapy to see if it is right for you. We offer free phone consultations to answer any further questions you may have.

Contact us.

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We have offices in Tenleytown, DC and Chevy Chase, MD.


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