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Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

A EMDR therapy program uses eye movement desensitization reprocessing to help individuals heal from substance use disorder and improve mental health. Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, or an EMDR therapy program, is a psychotherapy treatment that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of distressing life experiences. Unlike other alternative and holistic treatments that attempt to alter the responses resulting from trauma, an EMDR therapy program focuses on memories. Its goal is to change how the brain stores recollections.

It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. While this can be true for some individuals, it would be erroneous to assume it applies to all emotional pain, trauma, or individuals. EMDR therapy is one technique used in addressing trauma and other mental health issues that encourage healing in a more accelerated manner. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can, in fact, heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. What used to take years now can be a much shorter process to make a difference in a person’s wellbeing. This therapy attempts to use the body’s own systems to work on itself to lessen and overcome the impact of trauma. While eye movement desensitization reprocessing is perhaps most effective for those struggling with PTSD, it can be very effective across all sorts of mental health issues.

How EMDR Operates

Eye movement is the most distinctive feature of EMDR therapy. However, this isn’t its only aspect. Rather, an EMDR therapy program contains numerous components contributing to the overall effectiveness of the treatment. Eye movements engage the client’s attention to an external stimulus. However, as they do so, clients also focus on their internal distress. This can be connected to the external stimulus or not. The technique of dual attention stimuli described allows clients and therapists to examine reactions to both external and internal stimuli. Often therapists use hand-tapping and auditory stimulation as stimuli on top of directed eye movements, which is the most commonly used dual attention stimulus.

Like many other types of therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing operates in distinct stages or phases. During each of these, client and therapist are able to explore the effectiveness of the therapy as they proceed. Conducted in eight phases, EMDR therapy brings attention and focus to the past, present and future and the situations in each that cause distress, bring up disturbing memories, and the development of skills and attitudes needed for positive actions moving forward. As clients progress through the phases, the grip of their trauma lessens.


  1. Client History and Treatment Planning
  2. Preparation
  3. Assessment
  4. Desensitization
  5. Installation
  6. Body Scan
  7. Closure
  8. Reevaluation

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