What is EMDR Therapy?

Image of a woman wearing glasses staring out a window as the sun shines on her face. Discover how EMDR therapy in Englewood, CO works and how it can help you manage your trauma, anxiety, and more.

You may have heard of something called EMDR therapy. Some people talk about it as “magic” because it works so effectively and so quickly. Do not worry, EMDR is not any type of sorcery! It is quite the opposite. EMDR stands for: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is an evidence-based and clinically proven intervention that many mental health professionals use in practice. Francine Shapiro developed it in the late 1980s.

The story goes that in 1987, Shapiro was taking a walk in the park while thinking about some disturbing thoughts. She noticed that her eye movements seemed to reduce the intensity of her negative thoughts. This observation led her to conduct further experiments with eye movements and their effects on emotional distress. Over the years, EMDR has been integrated into mainstream psychotherapy. It is recognized as an empirically supported treatment by organizations. Such as the American Psychological Association (APA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense in the United States. 

Image of a man with a beard resting his hand on his mouth in thought. With the help of EMDR therapy in Littleton, CO you can begin coping with your trauma in healthy ways.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

The exact mechanisms of action underlying Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are not yet fully understood, and there are different theories about how the therapy works. It is known that the bilateral stimulation (such as side-to-side eye movements) used in the therapy assists the brain with the process of distressing memories, leading to a reduction in their emotional intensity and power. EMDR is thought to engage the process of memory reconsolidation. When a person goes through a traumatic event, the body and brain often disconnect from reality as a protective mechanism. As a result, the memory might land fragmented in the brain and body. Throughout the EMDR process, the individual retrieves, puts back together, and modifies the memory before restoring it to the brain.

Francine Shapiro also proposed the concept of Adaptive Information Processing (AIP). Suggesting that EMDR helps to facilitate the reprocessing of traumatic memories so that they can be integrated adaptively or in a more beneficial way back into the brain. This involves connecting the traumatic memory with more adaptive and positive information. Furthermore, there is evidence that EMDR may be associated with neurobiological changes. For example, there is evidence that EMDR can affect the amygdala, a brain region involved in processing emotions, and lead to changes in how traumatic memories are stored and recalled. There have been many studies done on EMDR theory showing clear evidence of brain changes from before and after treatment scans. EMDR is an effective therapy that capitalizes on your brain’s capability of healing from psychological trauma and injury.

Image of a smiling woman wearing glasses standing in front of a colorful mural. Learn how effective EMDR therapy in Denver, CO can be when it comes to managing your trauma symptoms.

8 Phase Approach To EMDR Therapy

The therapy typically involves a structured eight-phase approach. In which the therapist helps the client process distressing memories by using bilateral stimulation. Which can include side-to-side eye movements, auditory tones, or tactile stimulation (such as tapping or the use of vibrations). 

  • 1. History-taking and treatment planning: The therapist gathers information about the client’s history and identifies target memories for processing.
  • 2. Preparation: The therapist explains the EMDR process and helps the client develop coping skills to manage emotional distress. Such as safe space and container.
  • 3. Assessment: We select specific memories or targets for processing. The client identifies the negative beliefs and cognitions associated with these memories.
  • 4. Desensitization: The client focuses on the targeted memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation. This phase aims to reduce the emotional intensity of the memory.
  • 5. Installation: We reinforce positive beliefs and cognitions. Replacing the negative beliefs associated with the traumatic memory.
  • 6. Body Scan: The client identifies and processes any physical tension or discomfort associated with the memory.
  • 7. Closure: The session will close, and the client is provided with coping strategies.
  • 8. Reevaluation: In subsequent sessions, the therapist and client reevaluate progress and identify any remaining issues that need processing.

What Does EMDR Therapy Help With? 

EMDR primarily aims to help individuals cope with and process distressing or negative memories. Particularly those associated with traumatic experiences. EMDR has proven to be effective when working with anxiety and depression. As well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, phobias, performance anxiety, and trauma and abuse. Most everyone can benefit from EMDR as it is likely that most people have experienced a negative experience at some point in their life! 

At Mountain Vista Psychology, we have trauma counselors who utilize EMDR to help people move through their trauma to improve their overall mental well-being. EMDR trauma counseling typically works faster than traditional talk therapy. The average number of sessions varies based on the individual. But most people report gaining relief relatively quickly. We would love to work with you and help you gain a sense of relief in your life! Reach out today to get more information and schedule an appointment! 

Image of a woman wearing a backpack standing in front of a lake with her arms in the air. If you struggle with anxiety, depression, trauma, and more, learn how EMDR therapy in Littleton, CO can help you.

Ready to Heal With EMDR Therapy in Englewood, Littleton, Greenwood Village, and Denver, CO?

Discover relief from trauma, depression, and anxiety through the transformative power of EMDR therapy. Our dedicated team of EMDR therapists at Mountain Vista Psychology is ready to guide you on a path to emotional well-being. Take control of your mental health – start your journey towards healing by following these three simple steps:

  1. Schedule a free phone consultation to see if EMDR Therapy is right for you
  2. Begin meeting with a skilled EMDR therapist
  3. Start healing from your symptoms of trauma, depression, anxiety, and more!

Other Services Offered by Mountain Vista Psychology

At Mountain Vista Psychology, we provide many services to help empower individuals on their journey toward mental and emotional well-being. In addition to helping you heal and manage your symptoms from your trauma, depression, and anxiety with the help of EMDR Therapy, we also provide Neurofeedback Therapy for ADHD, AnxietyAutismConcussion/ TBI, and Sports/Performance. Our counseling services include child counselingteen counselingadult counselingfamily counseling, & more. Our team also provides testing for learning disabilitiesADHD, and Autism. Be sure to check out our Blog and FAQs for more about us and our services!


Schedule a FREE Consultation

We believe in an integrative and holistic approach to help you make the changes you want. Contact us now to schedule an appointment or to request a 20 minute free phone consultation. During this session, you will be invited to share your story and ask any questions you may have.

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