Does EMDR Therapy Work?


What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. EMDR is a form of psychotherapy developed in the 1980s by Dr. Francine Shapiro, M.D., and is based on the idea that when a person experiences a traumatic event, they may suffer from a variety of mental, emotional, and behavioral symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive memories, and avoidance of situations that remind them of the event.
The theory behind EMDR is that these symptoms can be reduced or eliminated through memory processing and eye movement, which involve inducing a change in the brain’s functioning. The process generally lasts approximately 20-30 minutes and is centered upon revisiting the initial traumatic event and then re-experiencing the event in a new, emotionally safe context. Emdr therapy is a specific type of psychotherapy that focuses on the underlying causes of PTSD. It is a short-term, time-limited treatment approach that can be helpful for people suffering from the symptoms of PTSD, who are often unable to find relief in traditional therapy.

What Types of Trauma Can EMDR Therapy Help With?

Trauma is often characterized as an event that is life-altering, and either overwhelms or completely changes one’s habitual response to life. According to the U.S. Veteran’s Administration, the estimated number of adults who sought help for traumatic stress disorder (TSD) in 2006 was over 1.6 million. TSD is an almost constant reminder that something terrible may happen at any moment. Trauma, defined as a life-altering event, can have numerous facets including any event that is extremely stressful, upsetting, or totally unexpected. These events can have many diverse causes, from war, to a car accident, to abuse, to catastrophic failure of any kind. Fortunately, EMDR therapy can help with all of these traumas! 

Does EMDR Therapy Work? 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), EMDR therapy is an evidence-based treatment for PTSD, panic attacks, and traumatic memories. The theory behind the treatment is that PTSD is caused by the disruption of psychological cues that are linked to traumatic memories and, therefore, that the disruption of these cues often results in a return of the memory and PTSD symptoms.
Everyone is familiar with the idea of “reminding” yourself of an unpleasant experience, but not many of us know about “emotional memory.” This is the term used to describe the ways in which our bodies can remember emotions without our conscious awareness. A recent study conducted by an international group of researchers in Brazil has discovered that EMDR therapy can actually help prevent long-lasting negative emotions from influencing your life. So in short, yes, EMDR therapy can help with PTSD! 
We’d like to thank Diana Anzaldua (LCSW) who is the owner and founder of Austin Trauma Therapy Center. Diana spoke to us about EMDR Therapy and how it can help. If you’re looking for help with trauma therapy, EMDR, or mental health counseling in general, contact Diana and her team. They serve the Austin, TX area, but are also expanding to other cities and states, soon! 
If you’re in the Austin area, you can visit their office. Here is the map, below.