EMDR Therapy Philadelphia

If you have experienced a traumatic event or suffer from a condition such as anxiety, depression, or phobias, you benefit from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that helps individuals process distressing memories and overcome psychological difficulties.

EMDR Therapy Philadelphia

What is EMDR?

EMDR is a form of therapy developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro in the 1980s. The therapy involves a series of eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation (BLS), such as tapping or audio cues, while the individual focuses on a traumatic memory. The eye movements, or other forms of bilateral stimulation, help to reprocess the memory, reducing the intensity of the emotional response associated with it.

EMDR is based on the theory that trauma disrupts the normal processing of memories in the brain. When someone experiences a traumatic event, the memory may be stored in a fragmented way rather than being integrated into the individual’s normal memory network. This fragmentation can lead to the memory feeling vivid and overwhelming, even years after the event. EMDR is based on the idea that traumatic experiences can become “stuck” in the brain, causing symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR uses a specific set of techniques to help the brain process these experiences and “unstick” them, allowing for emotional healing.

Trauma is also stored in the body. EMDR not only reprocesses the memory and targets the negative beliefs associated with the memory, but also targets the memories stored in the body. EMDR has the benefit of a domino effect so you don’t need to process all of your trauma memories to have the full benefit of feeling more healed from your past experiences. 

Our Specialists & EMDR Therapists in Philadelphia

How does EMDR work?

EMDR involves eight phases of treatment, which are designed to help the individual process the traumatic memory and integrate it into their normal memory network so that it has less impact on the person as they recall the memory. These phases are as follows:

History and treatment planning: In the first phase, the therapist will take a thorough history of the individual’s symptoms and experiences to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to their specific needs.

Preparation: In the second phase, the therapist will help the individual develop coping skills and relaxation techniques, sometimes called grounding techniques, that can be used during the therapy sessions as they can become quite intense.

Assessment: In the third phase, the therapist will identify the specific memory or memories that are causing distress and work with the individual to identify the negative beliefs and emotions associated with those memories.

Desensitization: In the fourth phase, the therapist will guide the individual through a series of eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation while they focus on the traumatic memory. BLS helps to reduce the intensity of the emotional response associated with the memory.

Installation: In the fifth phase, the therapist will help the individual replace the negative beliefs associated with the memory with positive beliefs.

Body scan: In the sixth phase, the therapist will guide the individual through a body scan, which involves focusing on physical sensations in the body while thinking about the traumatic memory.

Closure: In the seventh phase, the therapist will help the individual return to a state of calm and relaxation after the processing of the traumatic memory.

Reevaluation: In the final phase, the therapist and individual will evaluate the progress that has been made and determine whether further treatment is needed.

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What can I expect from EMDR therapy?

EMDR is typically conducted in weekly sessions lasting around 60-90 minutes. The number of sessions required will depend on the individual’s specific needs and the severity of their symptoms. During your first session, your therapist will conduct a thorough assessment to determine whether EMDR is a good fit for you and to develop a treatment plan. Clients may choose to do an intensive 120-minute or more session for a quicker resolution to what they are experiencing. Our therapists can discuss what is best for you in your assessment session. 

In subsequent sessions, you will be asked to focus on a specific traumatic memory or other emotional issues while engaging in bilateral stimulations. The therapist will guide the individual through the eight phases of treatment outlined above. The individual will be asked to focus on the traumatic memory while also engaging in eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation. These movements may involve following the therapist’s finger with their eyes, tapping on their knees, or listening to sounds that alternate between the left and right ear. The BLS helps to activate both sides of the brain and allows for the processing of the traumatic experience. As you progress through the sessions, you will likely experience a reduction in the intensity of the emotions and physical sensations associated with the traumatic memory. You may also begin to develop more adaptive beliefs and responses to the memory.

The eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation may feel strange or uncomfortable at first, but most individuals find that they become more comfortable with the process over time. Throughout the therapy, the therapist will work with the individual to identify and challenge negative beliefs associated with the traumatic memory. They will also help the individual develop positive beliefs that can replace these trauma-inducing beliefs.

What are the benefits of EMDR?

The exact mechanisms of how EMDR works are still being studied, but some theories suggest that it helps to integrate the traumatic experience into the individual’s larger life story, allowing for a more adaptive response to the memory. EMDR has been shown to be highly effective in treating trauma and other emotional issues, including anxiety, depression, and phobias. It can also be used to treat performance anxiety, addiction, and other issues related to negative self-beliefs.

The benefits of EMDR include:

  • Rapid symptom reduction: Many people report feeling better after just a few EMDR sessions.
  • Lasting results: EMDR has been shown to produce long-lasting changes in behavior and emotional functioning.
  • No medication required: EMDR is a non-invasive form of therapy and does not require the use of medication.
  • Safe and well-tolerated: EMDR is generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated, with few side effects.
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Is EMDR right for me?

EMDR is a highly effective form of therapy for trauma and other emotional issues, but it may not be the right fit for everyone. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other emotional issues related to traumatic experiences, EMDR may be a good option for you.

It is important to note that EMDR may not be appropriate for individuals with a history of seizures, dissociation, or other neurological conditions. Your therapist will conduct a thorough assessment to determine whether EMDR is a good fit for you.

Flexible Scheduling and Session Options: In-Person and Virtual

Trauma can often render you in fight, flight, freeze, or fawn mode, making it difficult to work on yourself. We want to ensure that EMDR services are as accessible to you as possible. Whether you need a safe space to come to and work on your trauma in person, in our offices, or if you need fewer barriers by logging into a HIPAA-compliant secure portal for your virtual sessions, we can work with you.

Free Initial Consultation: Discover if EMDR is Right for You

We are happy to discuss with you if EMDR could be a good fit for you. Please reach out today so that we can help you decide what the best next step for you to overcome your traumas is.