If you’re considering EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) therapy, you may be wondering about what it is and how it works. Here’s a brief overview.

What Is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy is a powerful psychotherapy tool that is evidence-based for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as forms of depression, anxiety, acute stress and other disorders. A key element in the success of EMDR treatment is providing a safe and supportive environment for the client.

The mechanisms of EMDR therapy are not fully understood. Some say that the bilateral movement that the client follows, usually with her eyes, ears or both, “desensitizes” the brain, allowing information stored in different parts of the brain to flow more freely. This then allows the client to make new meaning from traumatic events, healing old wounds and developing more positive beliefs. EMDR is usually conducted over a number of sessions, during which the therapist will help the client identify and work through a specific memory or event. The therapist will also provide guidance and support during a session and help clients understand and process their emotions.

Who Needs EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy is a type of therapy that can be used to help people who have experienced trauma, including:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Witnessing a traumatic event
  • Natural disasters
  • Combat

EMDR therapy effectively treats various mental health conditions, with symptoms such as:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Hypervigilance (constantly on alert)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Shame

How Do You Prepare For Your First EMDR Therapy Session?

Before your first EMDR processing session, it is important to do some self-care. This means getting enough rest, eating a balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water. You should also avoid using drugs or alcohol, as they can interfere with the therapy.

It is also important to be honest with your therapist about your history and any trauma you have experienced. This will help them tailor the therapy to your needs. Finally, be prepared to talk about your goals for therapy and what you hope to achieve.

What’s an EMDR Therapy Session Like?

If you’re considering EMDR therapy for the first time, you might wonder what to expect. Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect to happen during your first few EMDR therapy sessions.

To begin, your therapist will ask you about your current situation and your goals for therapy. You’ll also discuss your symptoms, your trauma history, and any other mental health issues you may have. This information will help your therapist determine whether EMDR is right for you.

Next, your therapist will explain the basic principles of EMDR and how it can help you heal from past trauma. You’ll also learn some basic relaxation techniques that you can use during the EMDR process.

Once you’ve decided to proceed with EMDR, your therapist will help you identify a specific traumatic memory to target. Then, using bilateral desensitization, you’ll work through the eight phases of EMDR to help release and reprocess negative emotions and memories stored in your brain.

Finally, you and your therapist will discuss your experience during the session and develop a plan for future sessions. EMDR therapy typically requires a series of sessions to be effective. You may experience some benefit after just one EMDR processing session.


If you have experienced trauma, EMDR therapy can be an effective treatment option. If you are interested in EMDR psychotherapy, you should speak to a therapist who is trained in this type of therapy. They can help you navigate your trauma history and current symptoms, as well as set up a treatment plan.

Sarah J. Person, LCSW-R, is the best psychotherapist in Long Island, NY, that can help you with your anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue you may be struggling with. She offers a safe and supportive environment where you can explore your thoughts and feelings and work towards making positive changes in your life. Let Sarah help you on your journey to wellness. Schedule an appointment today!