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Carol A. Anderson, MS, MFCC
Licensed Marriage, Family, Child Counselor
A Center for Growth and Relationships

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Frequently Asked Questions

EMDR might be the most exciting discovery since the birth of psychotherapy itself! Many are being helped rapidly and effectively, who once thought they would be in therapy for the rest of their lives. If you or a loved one is in emotional pain, please read further to see if EMDR might help.

What is EMDR?
(Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an amazing new form of therapy that uses rapid eye movement to quickly heal many emotional problems that formerly took years with more traditional methods of psychotherapy. Up until a few years ago, certain conditions were very resistant to treatment and were considered to be lifetime disabilities. Thanks to EMDR, we now can offer hope to many who suffer from these conditions.


What kinds of problems is EMDR effective with?
is so new that we are still finding the limits of its effectiveness. Some of the areas it has been extremely successful with, so far, have been PTSD, trauma, childhood wounds, including abuse, irrational thoughts, fears, phobias, and panic anxiety. Currently, the use of EMDR with chronic pain, asthma, and even learning disabilities is being explored.


How does EMDR work?
While we are not sure of the physiological basis of EMDR, we are postulating a theory. If you were to cut yourself, your body would heal naturally, unless bacteria infected the wound. Perhaps the mind also has a method for self-healing - Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep. During the night the mind proceses the events of the day, sorting out the irrational or useless information, resolving experiences and sorting it in the appropriate part of the memory. Perhaps the "bacteria" of the mind is trauma. When we are traumatized, in any way, the event is "frozen" in the mind, unable to be processed and resolved naturally. It is as if the mind stays on "Red Alert". The results are upsetting thoughts and symptoms, as well as emotional distress.


So what does EMDR do?
Until recently, we thought that trauma altered brain chemistry permanently. We now believe that eye movement may somehow the natural healing process that reverses that effect. Perhaps neuro-chemically, the eye movement stimulates the two hemispheres of the brain to communicate with each other, arriving at new conclusions, so that the original trauma no longer contains the negative emotional charge originally associated with it.


Is EMDR like hypnosis?
Yes and no. Unlike hypnotherapy, the client is totally awake and alert. There is no trance state and the client is in complete control at all times. Also, unlike hypnotherapy, the healing takes place during the procedure and at a rate 4-5 times faster. Like hypnotherapy, EMDR seems to be working through the subconscious, bringing out memories, details, information, etc. sometimes long forgotten, repressed, or merely disregarded, because it did not fit our distorted reality.


Who can treat me with EMDR?
should be used only by a skilled and experienced psychotherapist who has been trained in the EMDR method. A therapist, so trained, will have a certificate of training displaying the EMDR logo. Untrained therapists, no matter how skilled in other forms of therapy, are putting their clients at risk!


What are the risks associated with EMDR?
Because EMDR sometimes brings up memories, we do not know what may come up. If trauma exists, it sometimes comes up at the same level of intensity as it was when originally experienced. As in any therapy, we must sometimes re-experience the pain in order to heal. It is important to remember, however, that with EMDR, pain is extremely short-lived. In addition, your EMDR therapist is trained to support you through the intensity.


Can EMDR help me?
While most are excellent candidates for EMDR, there are many factors to take into consideration, including your history and current situation. Only your trained EMDR therapist can make the final determination.

Thank you for your interest in EMDR. I believe it to be one of the most exciting therapeutic discoveries of this century! I hope this site has helped you to understand more about EMDR. Please call or email me if you have questions or concerns or click here for more info.

Carol A. Anderson, MS, MFCC
Licensed Marriage, Family, Child Counselor
Member of:

  • AAMFT - American Assn. of Marriage and Family Therapists
  • CAMFT - California Assn. of Marriage and Family Therapists
  • EMDRIA - EMDR International Association
  • IIRT - Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy

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