What is EMDR?
The mind can often heal itself naturally, in the same way as the body does. Much of this natural
coping mechanism occurs during sleep, particularly during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Francine
Shapiro developed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in 1987, utilizing this
natural process in order to successfully treat Post-?traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since then,
EMDR has been used to effectively treat a wide range of mental health problems.
What happens when you are traumatized?
Most of the time, your body routinely manages new information and experiences without you being
aware of it. However, when something out of the ordinary occurs and you are traumatized by an
overwhelming event (e.g. a car accident) or by being repeatedly subjected to distress (e.g.
childhood neglect), your natural coping mechanism can become overloaded. This overloading can
result in disturbing experiences remaining frozen in your brain or being "unprocessed". Such
unprocessed memories and feelings are stored in the limbic system of your brain in a "raw" and
emotional form, rather than in a verbal “story” mode. This limbic system maintains traumatic
memories in an isolated memory network that is associated with emotions and physical sensations,
which are disconnected from the brain’s cortex where we use language to store memories. The limbic
system’s traumatic memories can be continually triggered when you experience events similar to the
difficult experiences you have been through. Often the memory itself is long forgotten, but the
painful feelings such as anxiety, panic, anger or despair are continually triggered in the present.
Your ability to live in the present and learn from new experiences can therefore become inhibited.
EMDR helps create the connections between your brain’s memory networks, enabling your brain to
process the traumatic memory in a very natural way.
What is an EMDR session like?
EMDR utilizes the natural healing ability of your body. After a thorough assessment and development
of a treatment plan, you will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory. Eye
movements, similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated simply by asking you to watch the
therapist's finger moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. Sometimes, a bar of
moving lights or headphones is used instead. The eye movements will last for a short while and then
stop. You will then be asked to report back on the experiences you have had during each of these
sets of eye movements. Experiences during a session may include changes in thoughts, images and
With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it loses its
painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past. Other associated
memories may also heal at the same time. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic
and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.
What can EMDR be used for?
In addition to its use for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR has been
successfully used to treat:
anxiety and panic attacks
grief and loss depression, PTSD
pain, including phantom limb pain
feelings of worthlessness/low self-esteem
North Texas counselors has 2 EMDR trained therapists.
For more information or to schedule an appointment please contact our office at 972-942-8644 or