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You may have heard of a popular therapy called EMDR. This therapy method, called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), assists individuals in processing and recovering from traumatic experiences. It has effectively treated a variety of mental health issues, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.

Due to the increase in virtual therapy use, EMDR has been adapted for online sessions. Recent studies have demonstrated that online EMDR is equally effective in treating trauma and related mental health conditions as traditional in-person EMDR sessions.

In preparation for therapy, it is helpful to understand the core concepts of EMDR, the potential outcomes of a session, and how it can be used in a virtual environment.

What is EMDR?

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a powerful therapy approach involves reprocessing distressing memories and experiences, allowing individuals to develop healthier coping mechanisms and reduce the impact of traumatic events on their mental well-being.

At the core of EMDR is the use of bilateral stimulation. This involves stimulating both sides of the brain, typically through eye movements, auditory cues, or tactile sensations. The purpose of this stimulation is to facilitate the reprocessing of traumatic memories, emotions, and beliefs.

By engaging in bilateral stimulation while focusing on distressing memories or triggers, individuals can experience a gradual transformation of their negative thoughts and emotions into more positive and adaptive ones.

Two fingers being held up. Bilateral Stimulation. Online EMDR. North Carolina

The use of bilateral stimulation in EMDR is believed to mimic the natural processing that occurs during REM sleep. Just as our brains naturally process and integrate daily experiences during sleep, EMDR harnesses this innate capacity to promote healing and resolution.

In essence, EMDR is a powerful and evidence-based therapy method that taps into the brain’s innate ability to heal. By targeting traumatic memories and facilitating their reprocessing through bilateral stimulation, individuals can experience profound healing and transformation. Whether done in-person or through virtual therapy, EMDR has the potential to help individuals navigate the challenges they face and cultivate resilience and strength in their lives.

What is EMDR used to treat?

While it is widely known for its success in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), its applications extend far beyond that. EMDR has also been proven to address anxiety, depression, phobias, panic disorder, addiction, grief, and even performance anxiety.

One of the main reasons EMDR is so effective is that it directly targets the underlying traumatic memories and experiences that contribute to these conditions.

By reprocessing these memories, EMDR helps individuals heal and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

For example, someone struggling with anxiety may have experienced a traumatic event that triggered their anxiety. EMDR helps them reprocess that event and reduce the associated anxiety.

Service Member sitting during therapy. EMDR. Online Therapy. New Bern, NC

Additionally, EMDR has been successful in addressing specific phobias, such as fear of flying or fear of spiders. By targeting the specific triggers and reprocessing the associated memories, EMDR helps individuals overcome their fears.

Its versatility and effectiveness make it a powerful tool in the hands of trained therapists for many mental health challenges. So, if you are experiencing any of these conditions, EMDR may be a treatment option worth exploring. 

Basic Components of EMDR

EMDR is a powerful therapy that combines various components to help you heal and resolve your issues.

Here are the steps you can expect:

1. Building trust: The first step is creating a safe and trusting relationship with your therapist. This foundation is important as it will make you feel supported and secure throughout the process.

2. Identifying the target: You and your therapist will work together to identify the specific issue or memory that you want to address. This can be anything from a traumatic event to a negative belief.

3. Bilateral stimulation: Once the target is identified, your therapist will guide you through a series of sets of bilateral stimulation. This can be done through eye movements, tapping, or auditory cues. You will be instructed to focus on the target memory while also attending to the external stimulation.

4. Processing your thoughts and emotions: Your therapist will closely monitor your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations during these sets. They will help you notice any shifts or changes in your experience and encourage you to express your thoughts and emotions freely.

5. Transformation: Through this process, your negative beliefs, emotions, and bodily sensations associated with the target memory will gradually transform. Positive beliefs and emotions will be cultivated to replace the negative ones, allowing you to reprocess the memory in a more adaptive and healing way.

6. Support and validation: Your therapist will provide you with support, guidance, and validation throughout the entire session. They will help you stay focused and grounded while creating a safe space for you to explore and process your emotions.

How EMDR can be used in Online Therapy

In recent years, the availability and accessibility of online therapy have expanded significantly, allowing individuals to receive the support they need from the comfort of their own homes. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is no exception to this trend.

During an online EMDR session, the therapist and client connect through a secure video conferencing platform.

The therapist guides the client through the different phases of EMDR, just as they would in an in-person session.

They work together to identify the target memory or issue, engage in sets of bilateral stimulation, and process the associated thoughts and emotions.

Woman on an online call. EMDR therapy. Online Counseling. 28562

Thanks to advancements in technology, clients can utilize various tools for bilateral stimulation during online EMDR sessions.

  • One example is using a computer mouse to track a moving dot on their screen.
  • Handheld devices, such as vibrating pulsers or tappers, can provide tactile stimulation.
  • Additionally, therapists can use flashing lights or auditory tones to facilitate bilateral stimulation.

These tools should be approved by the therapist and used with caution, as they can trigger unexpected reactions in some individuals.

While online EMDR may seem different from in-person sessions, individuals report positive outcomes and meaningful healing through this modality. The convenience of online therapy allows for greater flexibility in scheduling and eliminates geographical limitations. Additionally, being in a familiar environment can create a sense of comfort and safety for clients, which can enhance the effectiveness of the therapy.

It’s important to note that not all individuals may be suitable candidates for online EMDR. Factors such as the severity of symptoms, safety concerns, or the need for in-person support may influence the decision to pursue in-person sessions instead. Consulting with a trained EMDR therapist can help determine the best approach for individual circumstances.

What to Expect After an Online EMDR Session

After completing an online Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) session, it is important to be aware of what to expect. While individual experiences may vary, there are common reactions and outcomes that many people experience.

Processing trauma and difficult emotions can be intense and may bring up a range of feelings.

It is normal to feel tired, emotionally drained, or even temporarily overwhelmed after an EMDR session. It is important to allow yourself time and space to rest and take care of yourself.

  • In the hours and days following the session, you may notice a shift in your emotions and perceptions.
  • Some people report feeling lighter, calmer, and more at ease. Others may experience increased awareness or new insights about themselves and their experiences.
  • It is common to have dreams or thoughts related to the session as your mind continues to process the material.
  • It is also possible to experience some temporary discomfort or an increase in symptoms after an EMDR session. This is known as a “processing period” and can last for a few hours or even a few days. It is important to be gentle with yourself during this time and practice self-care.
African American women with hand on face. Online Therapy. New Bern, NC

Overall, the effects of an online EMDR session can be transformative and empowering. Many people report a significant reduction in distressing symptoms, improved emotional well-being, and increased resilience. With continued therapy and support, EMDR can help you heal from past trauma and create a brighter future. Remember to be patient with yourself and trust the process.

Begin Working With A North Carolina Therapist

Working through trauma or anxiety can seem overwhelming and scary. Our team of caring therapists are all trauma trained and are here to help make the experience less daunting. We are happy to offer EMDR from our mental health New Bern, NC-based practice with online services available across the state. You can start your therapy journey with Renewed Wellness Counseling by following these simple steps:

  1. Complete our consult form
  2. Meet with a caring therapist 
  3. Start experiencing more confidence and positive thoughts!


Other Therapy Services Offered With Renewed Wellness Counseling

Our team understands that you may have more than one mental health concern which is why we are happy to offer multiple mental health services. Our therapists specialize in therapy for military families, chronic illness counseling, stress and anxiety counseling, and addiction counseling. We also offer life transition counseling for those going through some changes such as employment, relationships, or college. Let’s work together to get you to a good place!