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Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, or EMDR, is a powerful psychotherapy approach which has been very successful in helping people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, grief, depression and many other emotional problems. Until recently, these conditions were difficult and time-consuming to treat. EMDR is considered a breakthrough therapy because of its simplicity and the fact that it can bring quick and lasting relief for most types of emotional distress.


According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Center for PTSD, EMDR is one of the most studied treatments for PTSD. It has the strongest recommendation for being an effective treatment in most clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of PTSD. It is considered to be the most effective and rapid methods for healing PTSD as shown by extensive scientific research studies.


EMDR therapy utilizes bilateral stimulation, which repeatedly activates the left and right hemispheres of the brain leading to the activation of the REM cycle, a natural recurring process which typically occurs while we sleep that facilitates the processing and encoding of information from short-term into long-term memory, also known as the Adaptive Neural Network, leading to memory consolidation, releasing the emotional charge linked with the memory that is “trapped” in the nervous system. This assists the neurophysiological system, the basis of the mind/body connection, to free itself of blockages and reconnect itself.


As troubling images and feelings are processed by the brain, via bilateral stimulation of EMDR, resolution of the issues and a more peaceful state is achieved.


During an EMDR therapy session, an EMDRIA trained therapist works with the client to assist them in identifying the traumatic target moment or incident, having them also identify the negative thoughts, emotions, and body sensations which are all associated with the incident. As the therapist assists the client in bringing this all back up to the surface the client is then asked to gauge the level of distress on a scale of 0 to 10. This becomes the baseline from which the therapist will begin to work. The therapist then begins bilateral stimulation, either by eye movements or tactile pulsars, in order to activate the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle. 


The more intensely the client focuses on the memory, the emotions, and/or body sensations the easier it becomes for the memory to come to life. As the processing begins, the client is instructed to notice everything as it resurfaces without attempting to find reasoning, make logical sense of, answer the question “why”, or try to get a sense of justice from it, as this will cause the prefrontal cortex to re-engage and impede from the ability to process/encode the information into the Adaptive Neural Network where it belongs. Up until that moment, the prefrontal cortex has served as a filter keeping this information from being processed, while storing it within the maladaptive neural network (the emotional center of the brain) causing the client to find themselves in a perpetually stuck state. 


As quick and vibrant images arise during the therapy session, they are processed through bilateral stimulation, resulting in the memory and the emotion to be split apart from each other. The memory is then stored within the Adaptive Neural Network, and the painful emotions are processed out as the emotional charge is depleted resulting in a shift in thoughts, perception, emotions, and interaction with others.

At NewLeaf Counseling of the River Valley, Inc, we strongly believe in providing the best services utilizing the most research and evidence based approaches. Research indicates that EMDR therapy is most effective when utilized with other traditional methods of therapy in treating a variety of emotional disorders, which is why our therapists are also trained in a variety of treatment modalities.


Recurring memories, nightmares, flashbacks, becoming upset when reminded of the stressful experience, panic attacks, hypervigilence, hyper arousal, constant worry, reactivity, lack of motivation, feelings of unworthiness, fear or being alone, unrealistic feelings of guilt and shame, difficulty trusting others, relationship problems, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, etcetera among other things.


Developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD, in 1987, EMDR began to demonstrate the potential to facilitate the processing of distressing life events since its initial medical study conducted in 1989, demonstrating positive therapeutic results with the following populations:


  • People who have witnessed or have been a victim to a disaster (rape, accidents, earth quakes, fires, murder, gang related violence)

  • Clients suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)

  • Sufferers of panic disorders and anxiety attacks

  • Chemically dependent clients

  • Persons exposed to excess loss (loss by death, divorce, loss of a house by fire, etc.)

  • Crime victims, police officers, first responders who were once overcome with violent memories

  • Accident or burn victims


Loss of a loved one

Injury of a loved one

Car accident    


Work accident    




Natural disaster    



Witness to violence

Childhood abuse    

Victims of violent crimes

Performance and test 




Anxiety or Panic



Childhood trauma

Physical abuse

Sexual abuse

Post-Traumatic Stress

Bad temper

Overwhelming feelings

Panic attacks

Low self-esteem

Relationship problems

Brooding or worrying

Trouble sleeping 


There are a number of factors to consider when evaluating the appropriateness of EMDR therapy for a client’s particular situation and history. During your initial consultation with a trained EMDR therapist, all of the relevant factors will be discussed in full to help you both come to a decision to move forward with EMDR therapy.

Although a fairly new therapeutic technique, EMDR is meeting with much success all across the country. EMDR is a natural process. The client and the therapist become partners on a journey to help move traumatic and blocked energy. Together they work to transcend and free up energy, so the client can return to their natural grounded state of being. The goal of this work is to help the client heal, so they can return to their life in peace.

Call today to set up your appointment!

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