News & Articles

What is EMDR Therapy?

By Julie Ponce MSW LMSW

How does EMDR work? Imagine our mind as a garden, with a variety of plants that represent your memories, experiences, and emotions. Within those plants, there are weeds-negative memories-that have taken root and spread, overshadowing the beauty of the garden. The weeds can create chaos to our emotional landscape, hindering your ability to thrive and flourish. Think of EMDR as a skilled gardener, equipped with tools and expertise to tend to the garden with care and precision through the removal of the weeds. As the gardener works, the garden begins to transform until the once over-grown areas are now open to reveal the beauty and potential. 

What really is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy is based on the idea that certain negative life experiences get “stuck” in the brain and create certain negative beliefs about ourselves which can lead to ongoing feelings of distress. EMDR allows for the individual to process these memories which reduces how emotionally charged they feel and creates a more adaptive belief about the events through the additional use of bilateral stimulation while looking back at these memories. 

How Does EMDR Work?

  • Dual Attention: Bilateral stimulation will be used- such as tapping, to engage both hemispheres of the brain. This dual attention helps to integrate the traumatic memories and the associated emotion together. 
  • Memory Reconsolidation: EMDR targets the way memories are stored and processed in the brain. By activating distressing memories while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, therapy disrupts the memory’s consolidated state, allowing the creation of new, adaptive connections to form to these memories.
  • Resource Installation: Positive beliefs and coping skills are strengthened during EMDR sessions, empowering the client to manage distressing situations more effectively outside of therapy.
  • Accelerated Processing: EMDR therapy often yields quicker results compared to traditional talk therapy, as it directly targets the underlying mechanisms of trauma and distress.

What to Expect During EMDR Sessions

  • Emotional Intensity: Memories and emotions may feel more vivid or intense during EMDR sessions. This is a normal part of the healing process, and your therapist will guide you through managing these experiences.
  • Spontaneous Insights: You may experience new insights or perspectives about the traumatic event or its impact on an individual’s life. These insights contribute to the healing process and are welcomed in EMDR therapy.
  • Gradual Improvement: While some individuals experience significant relief after a few sessions, others may require more time to see noticeable changes. Trust the process and communicate openly with your therapist about your experiences and progress.


EMDR therapy offers a structured and evidence-based approach to healing from trauma and distressing memories. By engaging in bilateral stimulation and targeting the underlying mechanisms of trauma processing, EMDR facilitates adaptive resolution and empowers individuals to live more fulfilling lives. If you’re considering EMDR therapy, understanding its principles and phases can help you feel more informed and prepared for the journey ahead. 

If you would like to learn more about EMDR and/or recived a free consultation, please call us at 248-851-5437