Therapy Modalities

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

What is EMDR therapy?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. 

EMDR therapy is a widely researched, evidence-based, and neuroscience-informed integrative therapy that was discovered and further refined to reduce distressing emotional symptoms from a multitude of challenging life experiences including isolated and protracted traumatic experiences, addictions, phobias, and more. 

Using bilateral stimulation (be it eye movements, alternating auditory sounds, or bilateral physical sensations – hand buzzers), EMDR works with and aids your brain’s natural impulse to synthesize and metabolize maladaptive memories and beliefs that are getting in your way.

The goal with EMDR is to get in touch with maladaptively stored feelings, thoughts, and memories that lie at the root of our trigger responses, but the goal with processing is ultimately to move through these feelings and thoughts until we reach a place of zero disturbance when recalling the trauma memory/experience. That resolution combined with the processing of other trauma memories in the same memory channel is what reduces symptomology in our present.

EMDR, simply put, helps your brain and body do what it naturally wants to do: move towards healing. Here’s a wonderful video from EMDR International Association that further succinctly explains what EMDR is. And finally, here’s some more information about what to expect from EMDR treatment and its attendant phases.

How does EMDR therapy actually work?

EMDR therapy is a phased, brain-based psychotherapy treatment with specific and discreet protocols to support the client’s treatment goals.

When you begin EMDR therapy, your therapist will conduct a thorough clinical interview (complete with personalized intake paperwork) to understand your personal history, your current triggers, and your treatment goals, as well as assess for what preparatory work may need to happen before beginning memory reprocessing. 

Then, using bi-lateral stimulation – this can look like side-to-side eye movements that cross the brain’s hemispheres, alternating audio tones, alternating taps/buzzes in the hands, or self-tapping (the Butterfly Hug) – your therapist will lead you through a set of resourcing and development exercises to adequately prepare you to begin memory reprocessing.

Once you are ready to move onto the memory reprocessing stage, your therapist will guide you through a series of “targets” – memories identified that correlate to your current, presenting symptoms, and facilitate resolution of these memories for you using EMDR protocols and bi-lateral stimulation until your symptoms are relieved.

Your EMDR therapist may also assign homework in between sessions such as the Weekly Log to help you track symptom relief and current triggers.

And please note: ALL of this is possible online no matter where you live in California – we share more about that below.

Do you offer EMDR Intensives?


EMDR intensives — multiple hours of EMDR therapy sessions in a row, one after another and taking place over a series of days or a weekend — provide a focused, efficient, and rapid approach for those who can’t fit traditional 50-minute weekly sessions into their busy lives and/or EMDR intensives are a wonderful for anyone seeking immediate improvements in their wellbeing. EMDR therapy intensives — while intense as the name implies — can deliver powerfully transformative results in a shorter amount of time.

At Evergreen, our EMDR intensives come with a preliminary consultation to evaluate suitability, aiming to identify specific clinical goals that you wish to address; a bespoke treatment strategy focused on your unique goals, with therapy sessions conducted by our team either in-person or online with sessions typically ranging from 1.5-2 hours at a time across 4-8 meetings (typically); a follow-up consultation to review the benefits from your intensive and, if needed, the option for ongoing intensive therapy if needed and wanted after.

If you, like so many, want results fast, these EMDR intensives can help you achieve your goals.

FAQ’s about EMDR:

Is EMDR just for trauma? What if I don't identify with trauma. Can EMDR still help me?

Absolutely! EMDR is a versatile therapy, not limited to addressing trauma. It is equally effective for enhancing performance across various domains, including sports, business, and personal relationships

What if I’m already working with a regular talk therapist? Can I just see you for EMDR or do I have to leave my therapist?

As long as your other therapist is a general talk therapist and not treating you with EMDR therapy, you can absolutely see both providers at the same time. In fact, this is called adjunctive EMDR work. Meaning, that when and if you need EMDR to support your clinical work with your regular talk therapist, clients can come to us for intensive EMDR treatment to help you move through “stuck” places in your clinical work. We’re also happy to collaborate care with your regular therapist when you come to see us for talk therapy so you can get two sets of clinical eyes on your case for the best care possible.

Can I do EMDR in person or are you only doing it online?

We have therapists who deliver EMDR in-person in Berkeley as well as remotely to clients all across California. No matter where you live in the state, we can do EMDR with you via the wide range of tools and online modalities we employ with clients to achieve bi-lateral stimulation (see more info on this below).

Is EMDR effective when delivered online? How do we do it?

EMDR is absolutely still effective when delivered online! Indeed, growing bodies of research suggest that EMDR therapy is still very effective when provided online. How and why can it still be effective? In short, EMDR relies on bilateral stimulation of the brain’s hemispheres as part of the effectiveness of the protocol. This can look like side-to-side eye movements that cross the brain’s hemispheres, alternating audio tones, or alternating taps/buzzes in the hands. Any of these modalities can be done in-person as well as remotely. Your EMDR therapist will give you a range of options for how we can create this bi-lateral stimulation for you at home.

Do you only meet once a week or can I do an EMDR intensive?

We are happy to be able to offer EMDR intensives – multiple hours of EMDR therapy on an individual day and/or multiple days of EMDR intensives spread out over a week or weeks. This can be a wonderful option for those in crisis, those who can’t commit to a weekly one-hour session and who want to see results soon, and/or those who are taking a leave of absence from work in order to attend to their mental health rigorously in a time-limited manner. You and your individual EMDR therapist can work through the scheduling details together to make this happen.

I’m ready! How do I begin EMDR therapy?

We’re absolutely thrilled that you’re ready to begin EMDR therapy and give yourself the gift of profound, brain-based therapy treatment to support you having the life you want! To begin your journey, please know that you can view the up-to-the-minute openings, fees, and contact details of every member of our EMDR cohort (and full clinical team at the center) here and/or at any point you can book a complimentary 20-minute matching consultation call here with our center's clinical intake director - Jennifer - to get matched to an EMDR therapist (or another trauma therapist) that best fits you clinically, relationally, and logistically.

We can’t wait to be of support to you!

And remember: no matter where you’re starting from, change is possible. (and EMDR can help you accomplish that change faster)

What if I’m Not Ready?

If you don’t feel quite ready to book a complimentary consult call yet, that’s completely fine.

We don’t want you to feel pressured and we know that the choice to seek out therapy can feel difficult.

Part of you wants to do it, and another part of you is, perhaps, scared to begin because of the feelings you might have to finally feel.

Or a part of you questions whether or not you can even be helped at all.

Whatever the reason, no matter how ready or not ready you feel to begin therapy, we want you to have the information you need to make an informed choice.

So, to that end, please explore the additional information below to learn more about us and how we can help you.

We’ll be here whenever you’re ready to reach out for support.

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