Utah Family Therapy

What is EMDR Therapy

EMDR Therapy, short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a type of psychotherapy that uses eye movements to detect traumatic experiences.

When the traumatic event is detected, the EMDR Therapist helps you focus on disturbing memories and related events and present situations that cause distress and then remove the power of the memories associated with these experiences.

Within EMDR, there are many different forms of how the therapist can direct the session.

What Does EMDR Look Like?

EMDR helps people heal from mental and emotional distresses. Patients also learn new ways to cope with stressful situations and develop skills and attitudes needed for healthy futures.

EMDR is used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, panic disorders, and other distressing life events. Francine Shapiro, a psychologist, developed EMDR in the 1980s as a treatment for people who have experienced trauma.

EMDR has been highlighted especially in treating PTSD in children and adolescents.

At Utah Family Therapy, we use EMDR to help clients with mental and emotional situations.

Unlike other forms of therapy, insight gained in EMDR therapy comes from a client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional process. This process is what leaves clients feeling empowered by the experiences that once held them captive.

EMDR is also an approved therapy by the government for treating PTSD and is used by the VA (Veteran’s Association)

In a successful EMDR therapy, the memory of painful events is changed on an emotional level.

Emdr Approved By Va

What is the Purpose of EMDR Therapy?

As stated before, EMDR is used for many mental and emotional needs. 

EMDR helps people who suffer from:

EMDR is also used for:

  • Sexual assault
  • Childhood trauma
  • War (recommended by VA)
  • Physical abuse
  • and more.

EMDR can help with many disorders, including panic attacks and bipolar disorder. If you are unsure if EMDR would help you, call us to schedule an assessment to see if EMDR is the proper treatment for you.

EMDR Therapy Used for PTSD

PTSD/Trauma can come from abuse, war, divorce, etc.

General severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. Using EMDR therapy, the mind can recover quicker from psychological trauma.

Recent studies have shown that 84%-91% of single-trauma victims no longer experienced PTSD after three sessions.

Another study showed that 100% of single-traumatized victims and 77% of multi-traumatized victims no longer experienced PTSD symptoms after six sessions and 77% of combat veterans no longer had PTSD after 12 sessions. (emdr.com)

EMDR is recognized worldwide as an effective form of therapy for trauma.

Physical vs. Mental Healing

To explain the healing process of the mind, we will use physical injuries as an example. When you cut your hand, millions of cells rush to the cut to close the wound.

If a foreign object is embedded in the injury or the injury is repeated, it continually causes pain and prevents complete recovery. Healing can only be completed once the thing is removed and the harm stops.

Emotional and mental injuries are the same way. If the trauma continually happens and is never addressed, it can prevent healing. EMDR can help remove any mental blockades in the mind that may prevent recovery.

Once the block, the negative emotions, or traumatic memory is discovered and processed, healing resumes. Our therapists use detailed protocols and procedures to help clients start their natural healing processes.

The healing EMDR does to a client is a beautiful process.

Emdr Healing Trauma
EMDR is healing trauma so you no longer have to hide behind the pain.

What Does EMDR Look Like?

When you cut your hand, millions of cells rush to the cut to begin healing the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it doesn’t allow the wound to heal. Healing only takes place when the block is removed.

Similarly, this is how our brains work when healing from traumatic experiences and memories. If there is a memory that keeps repeating itself, or an experience that is left unresolved, it is difficult for our mental health to return to normal.

EMDR uses a three-point focus on the past, present, and future to metaphorically remove the ‘foreign object’, or the irritating memory, and the brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.

EMDR is different from other therapy models because you don’t have to talk about the traumatic memory in detail or complete homework in between sessions each week.

A therapist may ask you to feel emotions or to think of certain experiences, but describing and talking about them is not always necessary. Instead, EMDR allows your brain to heal using its own processing power.

How Does EMDR Work?

Throughout our lives, our brains work to connect experiences with emotions. This is how we learn to stay away from danger, like burning our hand on the stove. Our mouths water when we smell popcorn, our favorite song reminds us of a road trip with our friends, and the sound of jingle bells bring comfort during the winter season. These are all examples of the many ways our brain creates connections in our day-to-day life.

Unfortunately, traumatic experiences are no exception to the connections in our brain and they can carry emotions with them as well.

One example may be a fear of kittens because you were scratched by one as a child.

Sometimes these connections are not fair. You may one day meet a kitten who is gentle and sweet, yet, because of the connection that has been made in your brain, the gentle, sweet kitten still feels very scary.

EMDR encourages you to feel the emotion that is connected to the experience, and allows your brain to re-evaluate whether or not that emotional connection is fair. Feeling fear toward the kitten that scratched us is a valid physical response, however, should we feel afraid of all kittens?

EMDR provides a space for your brain to answer that question and separate the connections when necessary.

Over time, you will feel more in-control of your immediate responses to the things around you and the strong emotions that are connected to traumatic experiences will begin to lower in intensity.

Emdr Feel More In Control
EMDR helps you feel more in control of traumatic experiences.

8 Phases of EMDR Therapy

The Eight-phase treatment is a system, not a step-by-step process, but different phases a client might go through EMDR. EMDR therapy focuses on different periods: past, present, and future.

A therapist will look for negative and traumatic memories and events from the past and present so they can help a client process these events to experience less trauma and have a positive belief in the future.

Phase 1: History Session

Initial EMDR processing might start at childhood events rather than current stressors or the identified critical incident.

As the client explains the situation, the therapist directs specific questions targeting areas in the story where the client’s eyes moved a certain way. The client continues to identify what happened before, during, and after the traumatic experience and the negative belief that’s been created.

This information helps the therapist decide where to focus and how to treat the client for the best results.

Phase 2: Coping

During the second stage of treatment, the patient learns to cope with the trauma by focusing on the present moment.

The patient is taught to focus on the here and now. Creating this focus allows them to move away from the past and feel more comfortable in the present.

Phase 3: Personal Reflection

In this phase, the patient identifies what they think about when the bad memories come back. The patient and therapist then work together on healing those thoughts and beliefs.

Also, during the third stage of treatment, the therapist will teach the patient how to identify their negative beliefs about themselves and create positive affirmations.

Phase 4: Emotions and Sensations

During the fourth stage of treatment, the therapist will help the client identify their emotions and body sensations caused by any distressing memories.

Phase 5: Focus on Positive

During the fifth stage of treatment, the patient learns how to process their memories by finding positive aspects of life. For example, if the patient was bullied, they can focus on the fact they are now stronger than before.

This new positive belief helps the client look at things differently and promotes healing faster.

Phase 6: Handling New Situations

During the sixth stage of treatment, the client learns how to deal with new situations, self-control techniques, stress reduction techniques, and how to manage uncomfortable feelings.

For example, if somebody cuts them off in traffic, the client can think about how they will react positively, which might be different than their normal reaction.

Phase 7: Journaling

In phase seven, the therapist might ask the patient to keep a journal during the week to record events and things happening so the client can be reminded of the calming activities they learned in phase two.

Phase 8: Examining Progress

During this phase, the EMDR therapist will look at all of the progress made and all related historical events, current incidents, and future events that may require different responses.

These eight phases of EMDR therapy don’t necessarily follow this order. The therapist may choose to go in a different order or plan, but it might look similar to these phases. 

After a client’s initial assessment, the therapist will determine how many treatment sessions they may need to treat the presenting issues best.

“My anxiety just melts away when I come here.” – J.P.

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At Utah Family Therapy, our EMDR Therapists understand talking about painful memories is not easy and that a client may experience a physical sensation as they go through treatment. Fortunately, EMDR has been proven effective therapy for dealing with these painful memories and turning them into memories that are not as painful.

Many clients have expressed how much they have changed and the positive experiences from doing EMDR therapy. They no longer have daily vivid nightmares that wake them up in the middle of the night. 

We also strive to follow these principles in the treatment of trauma and unprocessed memories:

  • Always show compassion. 
  • Connect with each client.
  • Communicate openly and honestly


We strive to help clients heal and to be able to live happier and more filling life. 

Emdr Is Effective

Is EMDR Effective?

EMDR is an evidence-based, heavily researched therapy model. It is effective in treating PTSD, Trauma, Anxiety, and many others.

It is endorsed and used by many international organizations including the following:

How Do I Know if EMDR Will Work For Me?

Our goal as a clinic is to help each client and their family deeply heal and connect with each other.

Our team of qualified therapists are trained to use a variety of different data-driven and evidence-based treatment models. In your first few meetings with a therapist, they will work with you to determine which of these models fits best with your lifestyle and the symptoms you are experiencing.

EMDR is not for everyone, but for those who need it, it is an incredibly powerful tool. Schedule an appointment with our clinic today to determine if it is the right treatment model for you. 

Learn about your treatment options and schedule an assessment with Utah Family Therapy by calling 801.901.0279

Do you need intensive trauma therapy? Utah Family Therapy also provides an intensive trauma therapy program for those experiencing debilitating anxiety, depression, trauma, PTSD, and OCD.