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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Effective Therapy for Mental Health

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EMDR For Trauma

Welcome to our mental health outpatient website, where we provide valuable information about various therapeutic approaches.On this page we will explore Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a highly effective treatment for individuals struggling with trauma, anxiety, and other mental health challenges which we offer here at our facility. By delving into the mechanics and benefits of EMDR, we aim to shed light on this innovative therapy and help individuals make informed decisions about their mental well-being.

A meta-analysis conducted by Chen et al. (2014) revealed that EMDR was more effective than control conditions in reducing symptoms of PTSD across multiple studies

What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?

EMDR is a psychotherapy technique developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro. It is a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment that has shown remarkable success in addressing a wide range of mental health conditions, particularly those related to traumatic experiences. EMDR combines elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), bilateral stimulation, and guided eye movements to help individuals process and resolve distressing memories and emotions.

How Does EMDR Work?

The underlying principle of EMDR is that traumatic experiences can become “stuck” in our memory networks, leading to ongoing emotional distress and negative beliefs about ourselves. EMDR therapy aims to activate the brain’s natural healing mechanisms by stimulating the bilateral processing of information, thereby facilitating the reprocessing and integration of traumatic memories.


During an EMDR session, the therapist guides the individual through a series of eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation, such as tapping or auditory cues. These alternating left-to-right sensory inputs enable the brain to process distressing memories, allowing them to be stored in a more adaptive and less distressing way. The therapist also helps the individual focus on specific thoughts, emotions, or sensations associated with the targeted traumatic memory, gradually facilitating their desensitization and reprocessing.

Research and Efficacy of EMDR

EMDR has garnered extensive scientific research supporting its efficacy in the treatment of various mental health conditions. Here are a few notable studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of EMDR:


  1. In a randomized controlled trial conducted by Bisson and Andrew (2007), EMDR was found to be more effective than other trauma-focused therapies in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adult survivors of sexual abuse.

    • Source: Bisson, J. I., & Andrew, M. (2007). Psychological treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 3.
  2. A study by van den Hout et al. (2011) found that EMDR significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in individuals with a history of trauma, providing evidence for its broader applicability beyond PTSD.

    • Source: van den Hout, M., Eidhof, M., Verwart, I., & de Jongh, A. (2011). EMDR: Eye movements superior to beeps in taxing working memory and reducing vividness of recollections. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 49(2), 92-98.
  3. A meta-analysis conducted by Chen et al. (2014) revealed that EMDR was more effective than control conditions in reducing symptoms of PTSD across multiple studies.

    • Source: Chen, Y. R., Hung, K. W., Huang, W. T., & Yang, Y. K. (2014). Effects of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing on posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety in military personnel: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Military Medical Research, 1, 30.

Why Choose EMDR?

EMDR offers several distinct advantages that make it a compelling choice for individuals seeking effective mental health treatment:


  1. Efficiency and Speed: EMDR therapy has been recognized for its relatively short treatment duration compared to traditional therapies. While the exact number of sessions required may vary depending on individual needs, EMDR has shown promising results in reducing symptoms and promoting healing within a shorter time frame. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals seeking more immediate relief from their distress.

  2. Comprehensive Approach: EMDR combines elements of various therapeutic modalities, integrating cognitive, emotional, and sensory processing. By addressing multiple dimensions of traumatic experiences, EMDR allows individuals to gain a deeper understanding of their emotions, thoughts, and beliefs related to the trauma. This holistic approach promotes profound healing and enables individuals to develop adaptive coping strategies.

  3. Scientific Validity: EMDR is backed by extensive research, demonstrating its effectiveness in treating trauma-related disorders, such as PTSD. The studies cited earlier highlight the positive outcomes of EMDR and its superiority over alternative therapies in reducing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. The scientific validity of EMDR contributes to its growing recognition and acceptance within the mental health field.

  4. Versatility: While EMDR is widely known for its effectiveness in addressing trauma, it has also shown promise in treating other mental health conditions. Research suggests that EMDR can be beneficial for individuals struggling with phobias, panic disorder, grief, and other anxiety-related disorders. The versatility of EMDR makes it a valuable tool for therapists working with a broad range of clients.

  5. Safety and Non-Invasive Nature: EMDR is considered a safe and non-invasive therapy. Unlike some traditional exposure-based therapies, it does not require individuals to extensively retell their traumatic experiences. Instead, EMDR focuses on facilitating the reprocessing of memories while providing a supportive and regulated environment. This gentle approach reduces the risk of retraumatization and makes it suitable for individuals who may find traditional talk therapies challenging.


In conclusion, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) offers a powerful and evidence-based approach to address trauma and various mental health conditions. Its efficiency, comprehensive nature, scientific validity, versatility, and safety make it a compelling choice for individuals seeking effective and transformative therapeutic interventions. If you’re considering EMDR therapy, we encourage you to consult with a qualified mental health professional who can guide you through this remarkable treatment journey. Remember, healing and recovery are within reach with the support of EMDR.


Pennsylvania Behavioral Health Center has Licensed Professional Counselors trained in EMDR, and is waiting for your call to help you heal from your PTSD. Please call us at 610-563-2752.

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