What The Heck Is EMDR Therapy???

“As with any field, if something does not fit into the current understanding of how things work, it raises eyebrows, hackles or both.”
Francine Shapiro, Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) in my opinion is the white magic of the counseling world. I could talk about EMDR all day long without running out of things to say about it haha! I’m not going to go into great depth about EMDR today, but at the end of this post I will give you some resources that will help you understand it a little better. : )

I am a Fully Trained EMDR therapist which means I completed a 50 hour EMDR Therapist Training Course (20 hours of didactic, 20 hours of practicum & 10 hours of consultation). 

EMDR is an evidence-based psychotherapy approach intended to treat psychological disorders, to alleviate human suffering and to assist individuals to fulfill their potential for development. EMDR alleviates presenting symptoms, decreases distress from past events, creates improved view of self, relieves bodily disturbance, and resolves present and future anticipatated triggers.

EMDR is used in the treatment of:


*Anxiety/panic attacks

*Grief and loss




*Eating disorders



*Sleep problems

*Feelings of worthlessness

*Low self-esteem



Okay…so lets get to the explaining part of EMDR. I have many clients that specifically come to me/are referred to me for EMDR therapy. These clients usually know a little bit about EMDR. Explaining EMDR to a client that has no idea what it is…well…it is a fun experience because the look that I get (the you are freaking crazy look) never gets old…

This is usually how my conversation goes with adults:

Me: You know how we can go to bed feeling really upset…but then wake up feeling better?

Client: Yes.

Me: Well you see at night our eyes move back and forward really fast during REM sleep (rapid eye movement) and process through our day. That’s why we have crazy dreams sometimes. Our brain is just trying to make sense of our day and process through things.

Client: Yea! I have crazy dreams sometimes!

Me Yea, me too!  Here is an easy way to understand what EMDR Is:

Often, when something traumatic happens (anything that overwhelms our bodies ability to cope) it seems to get locked in the nervous system with the original picture, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and so on. Since the experience is locked in, it continues to be triggered whenever a lot of negative emotions come up, such as fear and helplessness that we cannot seem to control. These are really the emotions connected with the old experience. EMDR is similar to what is thought to happen in REM, or dream sleep: The bilateral stimulation in eye movements may be involved in processing the unconscious material. The important thing to remember is that during EMDR it is your own brain that will be doing the healing and that you are the one in control.

This is usually how my conversation goes with kids:

Do you ever feel really angry before bed, but then wake up feeling a little better?

Kid: Yea…

Me: Well, that’s because our brain knows how to make us feel better at night using a thing called REM sleep where our eyes move back and forth really fast. That’s when we sometimes have really crazy/weird dreams!

Kid: Yea, sometimes I have crazy dreams!

Me: Me too! See…sometimes things happen in our life that make our brain really scared. When this happens our brain freezes up and doesn’t know how to help us feel better. There is a type of therapy I do that helps the brain feel better and allows it to be all happy and balanced again. You want to learn more about it?

Kid: Yea!

I love being an EMDR therapist because it is very cool being able to help client’s regain balance in their lives after experiencing trauma. I always tell my clients that EMDR can be very hard and exhausting, but that it truly can help the “knows” of their lives become a “feel.”

We can “know” all day long that we are worthy of being loved…

But wouldn’t it be amazing if the “know” could truly be a “feel?”

When we truly feel that we are worthy of being loved…well…

That Changes Everything. 

Be Fervently Driven

-Amie Hope

Check Out These Resources:

Healing with EMDR Personal Stories  (Click here to hear some cool stories!)

Dr. Laurel Parnell’s Website -Go check our Dr. Parnell’s website! The way I administer EMDR closely relates to how she administers it.

TED Talk  -Go check this out. Tricia Walsh shares her own personal experience with  EMDR. It’s an amazing story!


**There are many books out there about EMDR. Here are a few that are pretty popular…

EMDR therapy and adjust approaches with children by Ana Gomez

EMDR and art of psychotherapy with children by Robbie Adler

Integrative team treatment for attachment trauma in children by Debra Wesselmann

Through the eyes of a child by Tinker

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro (Any other books you can find by Francine Shapiro. She is the founder of EMDR therapy. EMDR was founded in 1987.)

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