» EMDR Therapy: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

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EMDR Therapy: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a new, yet well-researched type of psychotherapy that is growing in popularity in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions. This treatment approach is nontraditional in the way that it doesn’t rely on talk therapies or prescription medications. Instead, the process involves lessening the emotional power of past memories and traumas using a patient’s own eye movements.

EMDR therapy is highly renowned by numerous organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMHSA). People who have endured military combat, sexual abuse, rape, or any other type of traumatic event may benefit from this nontraditional treatment approach.

What is EMDR and How Does it Work?

EMDR was first developed in 1987 to treat PTSD. When patients focus on their trauma while experiencing bilateral stimulation in the form of eye movements, they are able to reduce the vividness of traumatic memories as well as the severity of the associated emotions.[1]

EMDR therapy is guided by the Adaptive Information Processing model which considers symptoms of PTSD and similar disorders to be a result of past disturbing experiences that were not processed in a healthy and proper way. As a result, these unprocessed memories start to contain painful emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and even physical sensations that are terribly distressing. While most traditional therapies focus on treating the emotions and thoughts revolving around a person’s traumatic experience, EMDR focuses directly on the memory itself.

Through the use of EMDR’s standardized procedures involving the use of bilateral stimulation, therapists help patients change the way their traumatic memories are stored in the brain. As a result, the process reduces or even eliminates many problematic symptoms associated with PTSD.

EMDR therapy uses a eight-phase approach as listed below.

  • Phase 1: History taking and treatment planning
  • Phase 2: Preparing the client for treatment
  • Phase 3: Assessing the target memory and associated symptoms
  • Phases 4-7: Processing the memory to an adaptive resolution
  • Phase 8: Evaluating the treatment results

EMDR therapists are able to help patients process traumatic memories in as little as 1-3 sessions without extended exposure to the memory, having to challenge dysfunctional beliefs or giving out homework assignments.

What Happens During an EMDR Therapy Session?

Despite the long and seemingly intimidating name, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy is a non-invasive and fairly simple process. It is deemed a safe therapy with no negative side effects. During a session, a trained therapist will move his or her fingers in front of your face, making back and forth motions, while asking you to follow these movements with your eyes. Simultaneously, while watching these movements, the therapist will instruct you to think about a past traumatic event.[2]

Gradually, as the session progresses, your therapist will instruct you to begin thinking about more pleasant thoughts. Each EMDR therapy session lasts approximately 90 minutes. At both the beginning and the end of your session, you will rate your level of distress. Over the course of several treatments, the goal is that your memories slowly become less and less disturbing.

In addition to finger movements, some EMDR therapists will use tapping sounds or musical tones. People who use this type of eye movement approach report that EMDR helps weaken the distressing effects of negative emotions, therefore, allowing people to handle their emotions in an easier way.

What Conditions Do Your EMDR Therapists Treat?

Located in Oakland Park just outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, our team of medical professionals consists of several EMDR therapists. Although EMDR therapy is most commonly used to treat PTSD, it is also used to treat several other psychological conditions, including:

  • Eating disorders
  • Drug addiction
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks

Each of these conditions consists of emotional pain that usually takes a long time to heal from. However, with the use of EMDR, patients are able to heal from psychological trauma at a faster rate. The idea is that in order to fully treat an individual suffering from a psychological illness, one must address and heal from emotional wounds and past disturbing events. The detailed procedures and protocols we use during our EMDR therapy sessions help clients reap the benefits of the mind’s natural healing processes.

Get Started With EMDR Therapy in Fort Lauderdale Today

At Sozo Medical Group, we focus on healing individuals using progressive and effective therapy solutions. With a specialization in EMDR therapy, we can help you or your loved one process past traumatic events, overcome anxiety, deal with difficult emotions, and better treat PTSD. We’re dedicated to setting realistic goals for our clients using custom-tailored wellness programs that help you achieve optimal physical and mental health. Whether you’re seeking treatment for the first time or have yet to find a treatment that works for you, contact us today to see how we can help.


  1. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/treatments/eye-movement-reprocessing
  2. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/emdr-what-is-it#2

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