What Is EMDR Therapy?

Have you ever wondered what the best therapy for trauma is? Most counselors would say EMDR, which stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. This type of psychotherapy is frequently used in individual counseling sessions and is helpful for individuals experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, panic attacks, or depression. EMDR therapy is beneficial for everyone, not just those experiencing a mental illness or overcoming trauma. The effects of this therapy work to connect the entire body to feel more unified and empowered. This specialized process is a technique that involves side-to-side eye movement and visualizing memories simultaneously for bilateral stimulation. This therapy can enhance people’s lives by providing symptom relief from distressing emotions. The treatment is used to target maladaptive thoughts and behaviors and reprocess the memories associated with them.

Trauma in Childhood

The experiences we have from childhood are stored in our long-term memory to help us understand the world. When traumatic events occur in childhood, the memories are filed away and ingrained in the child’s learning about the world and their environment. Traumatic events are often linked to fear. Fear is an emotion that prohibits children from forming healthy relationships or being able to function normally in society. When a child survives trauma, the feeling of fear may prime the child to believe it might happen again. Children place their trust in adults, and when the trust is betrayed, the children internalize negative conceptions of both the world and themselves. For example, children may think, “I cannot take care of myself” or “I cannot rely on mom or dad.” 

Maladaptive thoughts and behaviors are known to manifest years after experiencing trauma. People might believe the world is unsafe, or they may tell themselves that their trauma was their fault. Often, the factor that impacts people the most is lack of closure. The lack of clarity about the event frequently leads to depression, anxiety, nightmares, and heightened startle responses.  


EMDR therapy is an intense experience. This specific counseling practice is not merely talking; it involves reliving trauma and reprocessing the stored memories. The brain wants to heal and self-repair. The brain desires to release its learned maladaptive coping habits, like stress and fear. Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create feelings of being overwhelmed, of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories and allows normal healing to resume. 

The client is in control of the entire experience. Therapists do not intervene much or talk during the process. EMDR connects the mind and body in a unique way that brings clarity to the individual. The uses of EMDR are more than just reprocessing memories, but for bringing growth and breaking boundaries. Each and every one of us experience difficult emotions that may seem unbearable to work through. In some cases, EMDR can even be used to assist athletes in their performance. For example, a golfer that has developed a twitch when they swing can go to EMDR to correct it.

Trauma-Informed Counseling

Trauma-informed counseling shifts the focus from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” A trauma-informed approach to care demonstrates that organizations and care teams need to have a complete picture of a patient’s life situation, past and present, to provide effective counseling and, on a larger scale, health care services. Many counselors have adopted a healing orientation to create a safe space for clients. Adopting trauma-informed practices can improve patient engagement, treatment adherence, and health outcomes. A trauma-informed counselor helps clients understand where their behavior is coming from by explaining trauma’s effects on the brain and emotional regulation. 

Trauma-informed counseling aims to teach the participant acceptance. This means that no matter what happened in the past, or the habits people do not like to talk about, or the things they dislike about themselves, the individual is still accepting of their entire self. The therapist may show the client unconditional positive regard, where they believe they are worthy of respect, no matter what they’ve done or been through. Acceptance of the past, the current situation, behaviors, and weaknesses are crucial for being able to move on. Trauma-informed counseling aims for people to see their trauma as a challenge that has allowed them to grow.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is life-changing psychotherapy that allows people to confront their problems head-on. Trauma, abuse, anxiety, and panic disorders are frequently treated with EMDR therapy. With this therapy, you do not have to live with the persistent fear you carry from childhood. Trauma can be treated effectively and on your time. Fortunately, EMDR therapy may only require a few sessions to relieve symptoms of stress. For more information about EMDR and trauma-based counseling, we are more than happy to help. At SokyaHealth, we offer a range of services for individuals experiencing mental health crises. SokyaHealth is a private psychiatric and mental health practice. We provide holistic mental health services for Southern California, Oregon, and Alaska regions. Our services treat a range of mental health disorders, from anxiety to substance abuse to psychosis and more. To schedule a free consultation with SokyaHealth, contact us today at 866-932-1767.

More than 50% of Americans struggle with mental health.

Headlight is now collaborating with health plans and companies to make therapy more accessible and affordable. Speak to a Care Coordinator today.