Lauren Boasberg, LMFT

What is emdr therapy?

EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It is a type of therapy developed by Francine Shapiro in 1987 for the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder. Over the years therapists have discovered that it can be used to treat any disturbing memories that cause emotional, physical or mental distress.

How EMDR works: The therapist asks the client to focus on a disturbing memory and the negative belief, emotions and body sensations that are attached to it. The client is asked to notice whatever comes up as they engage in some type of bi-lateral stimulation. Clients get to pick whether they like eye movements,  audio tones or tapping. This process desensitizes the client to the memory and in turn allows them to reprocess (make new meaning) of the memory.

Length of treatment: Clients see results very quickly with this modality. People are in treatment on average anywhere from 3-6 months. Some clients take a little bit longer, depending on how much material they need to reprocess and on how fast they move through the process. Each person is different and each memory is different. You usually know by the second or third session what memories you will be working on in the future.

How to pick an EMDR therapist: EMDRIA is the international association. You can search for a therapist by location or personal preference. I highly recommend picking a certified therapist because they have extensive training and experience and most likely utilize EMDR on most of their clients. You do not need to be certified to practice EMDR and many people just take the basic training. The more you practice the modality on clients the better you get at it. That is why I recommend picking a certified therapist!

    videos explaining emdr

    Francine Shapiro talking about EMDR therapy.
    Introduction to EMDR therapy from EMDRIA