August 2, 2023

EMDR Therapy: How to Begin Your Journey

This post explored what EMDR is, why it’s so effective and offers up concrete tips to begin your EMDR journey. Learn more about this powerful evidence-based treatment today.

By Annie Wright|EMDR
EMDR Therapy for Trauma Recovery

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has emerged as a highly effective treatment method for individuals struggling with the lingering effects of trauma. 

In this blog post, we will explore what EMDR therapy is, why it is so effective, and provide helpful tips for starting EMDR therapy.

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy is a specialized form of psychotherapy that was developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. in the late 1980s. 

It’s a structured, integral, neurological-based therapy that helps individuals process traumatic experiences and alleviate the distressing symptoms associated with trauma. 

EMDR therapy is based on the understanding that traumatic memories are not fully processed and continue to cause distress, leading to various psychological and emotional difficulties.

Why is EMDR Therapy Effective?

  • Adaptive Information Processing: EMDR therapy is grounded in the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, which suggests that the brain has a natural ability to heal itself. EMDR therapy taps into this innate capacity by facilitating the reprocessing of traumatic memories, allowing the brain to make new connections and integrate the distressing experiences in a healthier way. This process helps individuals gain new insights, develop adaptive coping strategies, and ultimately experience a reduction in symptoms.
  • Bilateral Stimulation: A core component of EMDR therapy is bilateral stimulation, which involves alternating sensory stimulation. This can be achieved through eye movements, tactile tapping, or auditory tones. Bilateral stimulation is thought to mimic the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is associated with memory consolidation and processing. By engaging in bilateral stimulation during therapy sessions, individuals can access and process traumatic memories more effectively.
  • Comprehensive Approach: EMDR therapy takes a comprehensive approach to address the multi-faceted aspects of trauma. It incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and mindfulness techniques to address the cognitive, emotional, and physiological aspects of trauma. This holistic approach allows for a deeper and more comprehensive healing process.

Helpful Tips for Starting EMDR Therapy

  • Find a Qualified EMDR Therapist: When beginning EMDR therapy, it is crucial to find a licensed therapist who is specifically trained in EMDR. At Evergreen Counseling, 11 of our 18 therapists on staff are EMDR-trained.. Working with a skilled and experienced EMDR therapist ensures you receive the best care and guidance throughout the process.
  • Establish a Safe Therapeutic Relationship: Building trust and establishing a safe therapeutic relationship with your EMDR therapist is essential. Take the time to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable and supported. This trust and rapport will help create a secure environment for you to explore and process your trauma.
  • Understand the Process: Familiarize yourself with the EMDR therapy process to gain a better understanding of what to expect. EMDR therapy typically involves several phases, including history-taking, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and reevaluation. Learning about these phases can help alleviate any anxiety or uncertainty about the therapeutic process and please watch this brief video here to learn more.
  • Practice Self-Care: Engaging in EMDR therapy can be emotionally intense, so it’s essential to prioritize self-care during the process. Engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in hobbies you enjoy. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, proper nutrition, and sufficient rest can enhance your overall well-being and support the healing process.

Moving forward in your healing. 

EMDR is an evidence-based therapy approach that offers individuals an opportunity to process traumatic memories, alleviate distressing symptoms, and create new pathways towards recovery. 

By finding a qualified EMDR therapist, establishing a safe therapeutic relationship, understanding the process, and practicing self-care, you can lay a strong foundation for a transformative healing journey. 

Remember, healing takes time, so be patient and compassionate with yourself throughout the process. 

No matter how long ago the trauma took place, it’s never too late to resolve lingering trauma symptoms.

And, we really understand the importance of finding an EMDR therapist who is a great fit.

We invite you to take the next step toward your well-being by booking a complimentary 20-minute consultation call with us

Explore this website, reach out to us here or call us at 510-373-2723 to schedule your consultation.


  • EMDR International Association (EMDRIA):
  • Shapiro, F. (2018). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures (3rd ed.). Guilford Press.

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