Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) at Whole Wellness Counseling

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based psychotherapeutic approach developed for addressing psychological distress and trauma. Using EMDR, our trained therapists at Whole Wellness Counseling in Ithaca, New York, and Orchard Park, New York can help you to identify and re-process the painful emotions associated with traumatic experiences.

During the EMDR process, your therapist will guide you through several phases to help you effectively process and heal from traumatic experiences. These phases include preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and reevaluation. Each phase is designed to address specific aspects of your trauma and promote emotional resolution. With the support of our skilled therapists at Whole Wellness Counseling, you can embark on a transformative journey toward healing and resilience.


What is EMDR?

Developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, EMDR is an evidence-based intervention recognized for its efficacy in treating conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and other trauma-related disorders. EMDR operates on the premise that distressing memories, especially those associated with trauma, can become "stuck" in the brain's processing system, contributing to emotional and psychological difficulties. The therapy employs a structured eight-phase protocol, guiding you through a series of steps designed to identify and reprocess maladaptive memories.

EMDR has been shown to be particularly effective in treating individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). By targeting specific traumatic memories and utilizing bilateral stimulation, EMDR helps individuals process and reframe their experiences, leading to a reduction in symptoms and an improved quality of life. If you are struggling with the effects of trauma, EMDR may be a valuable tool in your journey toward healing and emotional resolution.

A distinctive feature of EMDR involves the use of bilateral stimulation, often achieved through rhythmic eye movements or other forms of sensory input such as tapping or auditory cues. Throughout the process, you will be encouraged to revisit and reprocess memories in a safe and controlled environment, allowing for the transformation of negative cognitions and emotions associated with the traumatic experiences.

During the EMDR process, your therapist will work closely with you to understand your history and establish treatment goals. They will explain the EMDR process and what to expect, ensuring that you feel prepared and informed. Together, you will identify specific target memories for processing, focusing on the associated distressing emotions, negative beliefs, and physical sensations. Through bilateral stimulation, you will engage in the desensitization phase to reduce the emotional intensity of the targeted memory. Positive beliefs will be reinforced during the installation phase, and any residual physical tension or discomfort will be addressed in the body scan phase. The session will be closed in a way that ensures you feel stable and regulated, and subsequent sessions will involve reevaluation to assess progress and address any remaining issues or related memories.

With our adept team of therapists at Whole Wellness Counseling, you can embark on a transformative journey toward emotional resolution and healing.

What mental health conditions are treated with EMDR?

Your Whole Wellness Counseling therapist may recommend EMDR to treat a variety of conditions, including: 

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Pain Disorders
  • Substance Use Disorders
  • Trauma-related Disorders

What should I expect during EMDR?

While our therapists always adapt their practice to meet your unique needs, EMDR is most often conducted in several distinct phases.

  1. History-Taking and Treatment Planning: In this initial phase, the therapist gathers information about your history. You and your therapist will work together to establish treatment goals and develop a treatment plan.
  2. Preparation: Your therapist will teach you a bit more about EMDR, explaining the process and what to expect.
  3. Assessment: Your therapist will guide you in identifying specific target memories for processing. These memories are often associated with distressing emotions, negative beliefs about yourself, and physical sensations.
  4. Desensitization: This is the phase where the EMDR processing occurs. You will focus on a specific target memory while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation can be achieved through horizontal eye movements, auditory tones, or tactile stimulation (such as tapping). The goal is to help you process the targeted memory, reducing its emotional intensity and the negative feelings associated with it.
  5. Installation: Positive beliefs are reinforced during this phase. You will be guided to replace negative beliefs with positive and self-affirming ones.
  6. Body Scan: Your therapist will guide you in identifying and processing any residual physical tension or discomfort associated with the targeted memory.
  7. Closure: The session is closed in a way that ensures you feel stable and regulated.
  8. Reevaluation: In subsequent sessions, your therapist will assess progress and address any remaining issues or related memories.

EMDR has garnered widespread acceptance and support within the mental health community due to its demonstrated effectiveness and efficiency in treating individuals with PTSD, anxiety, and trauma. It offers individuals an opportunity to confront and reprocess traumatic memories, fostering healing and resilience.

Our adept team of therapists, armed with a deep understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of EMDR, is committed to guiding you through a journey toward emotional resolution. Our therapists are trained to create a safe and supportive environment for your EMDR sessions, allowing you to explore and process your emotions at your own pace. Through this evidence-based therapy, you can gain a new perspective on your traumatic experiences and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Contact us to learn more about the advantages of EMDR and to learn whether it is the right choice for you. Additionally, you can read more about EMDR here and here