What is EMDR?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a treatment approach different from the usual ‘talk therapy. It leads to faster results than traditional treatment approaches such as psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, etc. This is because it works on the brain’s memory networks and allows for reprocessing inadequately processed and mal-adaptively stored memories. Other therapy modalities focus on trying to change the current thought process. EMDR allows the memories that cause distress to be ‘neutralized’ and integrated into the memory system as memories that are just that; memories. EMDR does not erase memories, but it takes away the component of the memory that is traumatic or has anxiety attached to it.

How are memories processed with EMDR?

In EMDR, most processing is done within the session rather than as homework or between sessions. The clinician asks clients to bring up the disturbing memory, jump-start the brain’s information processing system by using bilateral stimulation, and guide the procedures while monitoring the client’s effects. This type of therapy helps build internal connections and insights and brings up memories quicker than another type of talk therapy. The theory behind EMDR is that as the client accesses the original memory, connections are made, and these are “stored with new modifications in a neurobiological process called ‘reconsolidation'” (Shapiro, 2012, p. 31). EMDR, similar to other types of therapy, transforms memories into learning experiences and reduces these negative beliefs, emotions, and physical sensations.

EMDR Similar to REM Sleep

One could compare EMDR to REM sleep. During this type of deep sleep, your brain processes information you have taken in during the day. For example, let’s say that you argued with someone. You feel pretty upset and angry and experience all the physical sensations that accompany these emotions. You might go to sleep and the next day not feel so bad about what had occurred the day before. During this type of sleep, you ‘digest’ this experience and can focus more on the issue and be less reactive. Human brains are wired to process information while we sleep. Our brains connect experiences to other memories and which helps them be better understood. You might have a better idea of handling this issue without the intense emotions you felt the night before.

What is EMDR used for originally?

EMDR has been widely used to combat PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and trauma in veterans. According to the EMDR Institute, a study funded by the “HMO Kaiser Permanente found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, and the Department of Defense. According to EMDR Institute, some studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.”

What other problems can EMDR help with?

EMDR is effective not only for people with combat PTSD but also for those that have suffered other types of trauma, such as sexual trauma. It is also effective at reducing other disorders such as anxiety and depression. In addition, it is so effective that clients process their disturbances independently rather than relying on the therapist’s interpretations.

I want to Know More.

There are more than 500 different brands of psychotherapy. EMDR is relatively new; Francine Shapiro developed it in the 80s. Few psychological treatments have been as widely heralded as EMDR. ABC’s 20/20 even declared it was an “exciting breakthrough” in treating anxiety and disorders. A lot of research has been done on using this type of therapy; for an annotated list, go to http://www.emdr.com/research-overview/. Studies show EMDR treatment does reduce symptoms compared to supportive listening. Some research findings support the idea that it is quicker and more effective than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Is this Type of Therapy Better than Others?

EMDR is very effective and can be used in conjunction with other therapeutic interventions. Dr. Kreinberg explains that it is essential to note that the therapeutic relationship is the key to any therapy. As a therapist who provides this type of treatment and has had experience and training with many other interventions, she finds it very effective, but it is not something for everyone. Each person has their own story and experience; you must consider this during treatment planning. Dr. Kreinberg finds that EMDR is a great additional tool and add-on type of therapeutic intervention. Still, therapists should be cautious not only to have enough training in that area but also to be trained in other modalities. If you are curious about how EMDR could help you, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Kreinberg for a free 15-consultation.


Dr. Monika Kreinberg is the founder of Mind Wellness Center.She offers individual and couples counseling to help people improve the relationship with themselves and with others. Her private practice is located in Miami, Florida. She is a dually licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Mental Health Counselor who uses EMDR as part of her treatment protocol, along with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Psychoanalysis. She is also a BOARD CERTIFIED SEX THERAPIST, a National Certified Counselor and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and is considered an expert in her field. Monika is a culturally sensitive therapist who is fluent in five language (English, Spanish, French, Italian and German). She is a member of the American Counseling Association, Therapist Certification Association and the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association. You can read more about her at: Mindwellnesscenter.com and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DrKreinberg, on twitter at https://twitter.com/MindWellness and Instagram at Mindwellnesscenter.com.