Frequently Asked Questions About EMDR Therapy

Have you experienced a disturbing life experience or trauma such as addiction in the family? Did it cause physical or emotional distress? If yes, it may be a manifestation of the negative effects of trauma. Fortunately, there are various psychotherapy treatments presently available. One such treatment is EMDR.


EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a form of psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other related conditions. A well-trained EMDR clinician will guide you through the entire process. It helps patients to control their disturbing emotions better.

The process of EMDR involves eight phases, which will be discussed below. Although it may seem like a long and tedious process, repeated studies about EMDR show that it can show positive results within 6 to 12 EMDR sessions.

This means people who have PTSD can enjoy the benefits of EMDR without having to wait years. It proves that our mind can recover from traumatic experiences in the same way that our body heals.

People unfamiliar with the concept of EMDR may have many questions about this relatively new form of treatment. It is normal to want to know more about your available options.

After all, trauma is not to be taken lightly, and it is about your mental health and wellness. Here are some frequently asked questions about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR.

How does EMDR therapy work on a trauma?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) helps patients process trauma-related thoughts, feelings, and memories. During the process, the patient will focus on a back-and-forth motion or sound while recalling their trauma. This procedure will produce a shift in the way they process their traumatic memories.

What do you do in EMDR therapy?

During EMDR therapy, the patient will undergo numerous phases of treatment sessions, typically lasting around an hour. It starts with reviewing the patient’s history, preparation, assessment, treatment, and then evaluation. This procedure involves rapid eye movement (REM) to keep the patient’s focus and reconnect with their trauma.

REM probes all the emotions and physical sensations associated with the patient to their traumatic memories. The bilateral movement stimulates both hemispheres of the brain, replacing the negative belief with something positive.

What therapy is best for trauma?

Various therapy methods are used for trauma, which aims to resolve traumatic events in a trauma patient’s life. Many therapists would combine these different therapy methods to come up with the best treatment plan.

Some of the best therapies for trauma include EMDR, CBT, exposure therapy, psychotherapy, and hypnotherapy.

How do I get the most out of EMDR therapy?

The goal of EMDR therapy is for trauma patients to process memories of traumatic experiences and address present disturbances completely. To make the most out of EMDR therapy, it is vital to commit to recovery during and outside sessions entirely. It’s best to take the initiative, be honest and open, and follow the structured tasks directed by your therapist.

Can EMDR make you worse?

EMDR is a generally effective and safe therapeutic approach to trauma and PTSD. However, note that since it involves probing trauma history, it is common to experience discomfort or distress in the process. But an EMDR-trained therapist would have the necessary training regarding safety measures to minimize risks of severe side effects.

What are the 8 phases of EMDR?

EMDR consists of eight phases to work on resolving traumatic experiences and other mental health conditions. It revolves around the past, present, and future periods concerning the disturbing memories. The eight phases of EMDR are:

  1. Review of trauma history
  2. Preparation
  3. Assessment
  4. Desensitization
  5. Installation
  6. Body Scan
  7. Closure
  8. Examination of treatment progress

After a successful EMDR therapy, the patient would transform the pain from a traumatic experience on an emotional level.

Can I do EMDR on myself?

While it is possible to incorporate EMDR techniques in your everyday life, you would still need a therapist’s guidance. Only an EMDR therapist can process traumatic memories that come up with these techniques and develop effective solutions. They can provide in-depth navigation of your past traumas and help you throughout your recovery process.


When should you not use EMDR?

Note that stability is the most crucial requirement to be able to use EMDR. Hence, it is not advisable to conduct EMDR for trauma when the patient is under substance influence. It is also impossible to move past phase 3 to 8 if the patient cannot develop trust with their therapist. Hence, it is crucial to establish stabilization, safety, and emotional regulation before conducting EMDR.

How do I prepare for EMDR?

Since EMDR therapy involves the recollection of disturbing emotions from traumatic events, developing effective coping skills prior is highly crucial. It will help to have access to supportive resources to address symptoms that are likely to come up.

Your therapist will help you in this preparation during the early phases of EMDR therapy. It is also essential to have proper self-care, a reliable support system, and get into healthy habits.

What is the success rate of EMDR?

EMDR is a relatively new psychotherapy method for trauma. Despite this, studies have shown that EMDR, as an evidence-based therapy, has an 80% success rate in treating PTSD.

Emotional trauma, just like physical trauma, takes a long time to heal. With EMDR therapy, we aim to dig deep on these traumatic emotions buried just right beneath your eyes. Through a guided back-and-forth motion and sound, we will transform these thoughts, feelings, and memories into something more positive. 


The EMDR therapy comprises a series of hour-long clinical sessions, including preparations, assessments, treatments, and re-examination. It follows an eight-phase protocol to make sure that you develop proper coping skills for the intervention. Without guided preparations, you will place yourself at risk for emotional discomfort and distress.

As a promising trend in the treatment of PTSD, EMDR therapy offers top-of-the-line results. There is strong evidence that supports its success in the clinical setting. However, since EMDR relies on emotional stability, substances can potentially compromise the entire process. Hence, your full commitment and openness throughout the therapy will yield the best results.

EMDR is just one of the many effective strategies therapists use to help victims of PTSD cope. Other forms of therapy, including group therapy, also convey promising outcomes. It is best to combine it with cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, hypnotherapy, and other psychotherapy types for optimal results. 

Do you think EMDR therapy can help you or a loved one cope with emotional trauma? If so, do not hesitate to visit your therapist or mental health practitioner. With their expertise in handling mental health concerns, they can help you plan the best treatment for you.