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How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR therapy involves attention to three time periods:  the past, present, and future.  Focus is given to past disturbing memories and related events.  Also, it is given to current situations that cause distress, and to developing the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions.  With EMDR therapy, these items are addressed using an eight-phase treatment approach (see below).

After we determine which memory to target first, I will ask you to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use your eyes to track a light bar as it moves back and forth across your field of vision.  As this happens, internal associations arise and you will begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level. Unlike talk therapy, the insights you will gain in EMDR therapy result not from my clinical interpretation, but from your own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes.  The net effect is that you conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that once created distress.  As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are all indicators of emotional health and resolution—all without speaking in detail about the distressing event.

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