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FAQ's about EMDR

What is EMDR?

  • What is EMDR? Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy originally designed to alleviate distress associated with trauma. Memories are accessed, allowing intense negative emotions to be dissipated and more adaptive positive beliefs about the event to be stronger.

  • How does it work? EMDR works in a similar manner as our brains work during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. The difference is by being awake, the thinking brain can make sense out of disturbing or traumatic memories faster. So the intense negative emotions are activated and quickly dissipated, allowing the more adaptive positive beliefs to become stronger.

  • Is EMDR a one session cure? No. Some studies have indicated that the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been eliminated in 83-90% of civilian participants after four to seven sessions. Other studies have found significant decreases in a wide range of PTSD symptoms after three to four sessions. Studies involving veterans with multiple traumas found a 77% elimination of PTSD symptoms.

  • Is EMDR helpful for everyone? No. Individuals who have complex histories of childhood abuse, neglect, and poor attachment would require substantial preparatory work prior to beginning any type of EMDR therapy. These clients need to be able to learn how to manage intense emotions related to daily life, family issues and personal relationships. If an individual isn’t able to manage these things effectively, he/she runs the risk of retraumatizing himself/herself from EMDR.

  • Is EMDR helpful in the treatment of PTSD? Yes. EMDR has been extensively researched to determine it’s efficacy in treating PTSD. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association endorse EMDR, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy as effective means to treat PTSD.

  • How many sessions will it take? The number of sessions will be dependent on the nature and severity of the trauma. The more complex the trauma, the more time will need to be devoted to preparatory work and EMDR treatment. Single incidence trauma would require less time, but this hinges on the stability and ego strength of the client.

  • How long is the EMDR session? The average length of an EMDR session lasts for 90 minutes.

  • What do I need to know about the expertise of the EMDR therapist? An individual would need to ask the questions of if the therapist has gotten both levels of training and who did the training. Another question would relate to how much the trauma/EMDR continuing education obtained since his/her initial EMDR training. Information about how many cases have the therapist treated with your particular problem/disorder and the success rate in treating these cases.

  • Is EMDR hypnosis? No. The client is very much in control and is not deliberately put into a trance state as with hypnosis. Untrue thoughts cannot be introduced during EMDR as in hypnosis.

  • Go to to obtain further information about EMDR.

EMDR, Trauma, PTSD, Mental Health Counseling, Depression and Christian Counseling for Memphis, TN and the greater Shelby County area.

Kathy Miller, MS, LPC/MHSP

The Midsouth Center for the Treatment

of Trauma & Dissociation

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