Part 1: Let’s Learn About EMDR Therapy

Overcoming trauma isn’t easy. If you’ve lived through trauma, you might recognize that you’re struggling. Part of you wants to seek help. But the idea of opening up to a therapist about your past may be nerve-wracking. You’re simply not ready to dive into the complicated details of your life. At the same time, you do want to heal. You’re just not sure where to begin.

For many people in this position, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can be a wise choice. In this form of therapy, your counselor will use bilateral stimulation, such as finger motions, to guide your eye movements as you reflect on beliefs that you’ve picked up as a result of trauma. You’ll note areas of physical tension and resistance in your body as your therapist supports you throughout the reflection process. Here’s what to expect in EMDR therapy and how it can help you process trauma.

Getting Started

The first time you meet with an EMDR therapist, you’ll have the opportunity to talk about your past—but you do not have to dig into deeply personal details. You can bring up events or moments you want to focus on. However, you will not need to analyze these events as you might in talk therapy. You’ll also talk about what you want to achieve through therapy. Furthermore, your therapist will educate you on the ins and outs of EMDR and start equipping you with strategies and tools to regulate your emotions during sessions and outside of therapy.

Personal History Assessment

Now that your therapist has a better picture of your history with trauma, you can identify the particular beliefs or memories you want to target during reprocessing. Not only will you specify the negative beliefs you want to unlearn that you developed due to trauma, but you’ll also discuss the positive beliefs you want to instill through therapy. This will give you a roadmap for future sessions.

Desensitization And Reprocessing

In the desensitization and reprocessing phase, your therapist will use bilateral stimulation to activate the memory you want to focus on. You’ll note any images, thoughts, or bodily sensations that you experience. Additionally, you’ll consider any new insights that come up as a result.


EMDR isn’t just about letting go of negative beliefs but also about internalizing positive ones. During the installation phase, you’ll reflect on the positive belief you want to adopt to replace the negative belief. Your therapist will help you hold this belief in mind as you process your feelings.

Body Scan

Next, your therapist will guide you through a body scan. As you pay attention to how you feel physically, you’ll identify where you might still hold on to tension or discomfort. This will clue you in on emotions you still need to work through or beliefs you may want to focus on in future sessions.

Closure And Stabilization

Your therapist won’t simply send you home without giving you the chance to ground yourself and gain a sense of emotional stability. You’ll be able to talk about any negative emotions or thoughts that seem to be lingering after your session. Your therapist will also take the time to answer any questions you might have or talk about what to expect during your next session. Overall, your therapist will ensure that you feel truly calm and safe before your session ends. They can also recommend exercises that you can turn to between sessions.

Are you curious about the benefits of EMDR? Getting in touch with a therapist is the first step. Reach out to us to discuss your options for scheduling your first session for EMDR therapy or intensives.