Understanding EMDR therapy: How Does It Work & What Are The Benefits?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is an innovative and effective treatment approach that is gaining popularity in the field of mental health. It has proven to be particularly effective in treating individuals who have experienced traumatic events, but it can also be helpful for various other mental health conditions. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of EMDR therapy, discussing how it works and the benefits it offers.

What Is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy was first developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. It is an evidence-based therapy that utilizes bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, hand tapping, or auditory sounds, to reprocess distressing memories. The goal of EMDR is to alleviate distress and resolve traumatic experiences by promoting adaptive information processing within the brain.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

EMDR therapy targets traumatic memories that are stored in a maladaptive way in the brain, leading to emotional and psychological distress. During an EMDR session, the therapist guides the client through a series of bilateral stimulation exercises while the client focuses their attention on the traumatic memory. This dual attention, along with the bilateral stimulation, helps activate the brain’s natural healing processes.

The bilateral stimulation used in EMDR therapy allows the brain to access and process the traumatic memory in a more adaptive way. This results in the integration of distressing memories into the overall memory network, reducing emotional and cognitive disturbances associated with the trauma. EMDR therapy is based on the assumption that the brain has an innate ability to heal itself when given the right conditions.

Benefits of EMDR Therapy

Effective Treatment for Trauma

One of the primary uses of EMDR therapy is in the treatment of trauma. Numerous studies have shown that EMDR therapy is highly effective in reducing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and facilitating the recovery process. It has been endorsed by various professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association and the World Health Organization, as a recommended treatment for trauma.

Rapid Results

Compared to other traditional forms of therapy, EMDR therapy often yields faster results. Clients typically experience significant improvements in their symptoms within a few sessions. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who are looking for a time-efficient treatment option.

Enhances Emotional Resilience

Apart from its effectiveness in trauma treatment, EMDR therapy also enhances emotional resilience. By reprocessing distressing memories, individuals can overcome the lingering effects of their traumatic experiences and develop healthier coping mechanisms. This, in turn, promotes emotional well-being, allowing individuals to navigate future challenges with greater resilience.

Treatment of Other Mental Health Conditions

While initially developed for trauma-related disorders, EMDR therapy has shown promise in the treatment of various other mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, addiction, and phobias. It can be effective in addressing underlying issues that contribute to these conditions, leading to significant symptom reduction and improved psychological functioning.

Holistic Healing

EMDR therapy takes a holistic approach to healing, addressing the interconnectedness of mind, body, and emotions. During the reprocessing of traumatic memories, clients often experience a release of physical tension and emotional blocks, facilitating overall healing. EMDR therapy empowers individuals to process their traumatic experiences more effectively and move towards a state of wholeness.


EMDR therapy is a breakthrough treatment that has transformed the field of mental health. By using bilateral stimulation to reprocess distressing memories, EMDR therapy enables individuals to overcome the burdens of trauma and improve their mental well-being. Its effectiveness, rapid results, and ability to address various mental health conditions make it a valuable therapeutic option for individuals seeking healing and recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma or other mental health issues, consider exploring EMDR therapy as a powerful tool for healing and personal growth.

Working with Cornell & Associates Marriage and Family Therapy

Cornell & Associates Marriage and Family Therapy offers compassionate and quality therapy for individuals and families. Our team of experienced and certified professionals treat a wide array of mental health issues. Our therapeutic approach varies depending on your needs and how you view your path toward healing. We offer help for all stages of life and family structures, integrating both psychiatric principles and approaches, as well as traditional eastern philosophy. Contact us today!