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EMDR Therapy in Los Angeles, CA

EMDR is one of the many therapeutic services offered by our holistic team of psychotherapists here at The Holding Space. To find out more about this service, read below

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What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy technique developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. It is primarily utilized to treat trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR involves the client recalling and talking about distressing experiences while simultaneously undergoing bilateral stimulation, typically through guided eye movements but there are various ways bilateral stimulation can occur. This process helps to reprocess traumatic memories, reducing their emotional impact and intensity and allowing the client to integrate these memories more adaptively. EMDR can be useful and beneficial for most people; whether you have experienced acute trauma or low grade trauma, EMDR can be a healing modality for you.

EMDR works by helping individuals reprocess and integrate traumatic memories, reducing their psychological impact when triggered. The underlying mechanism of EMDR is not fully understood, but it is believed that the bilateral stimulation helps to engage both hemispheres of the brain, facilitating the processing and integration of traumatic memories. This allows the brain to reframe the memory in a less distressing way, reducing symptoms of PTSD and other trauma-related disorders.

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What is EMDR Used For?

Who Is EMDR For?


EMDR is primarily used to treat trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but its utilizations extend to a variety of psychological issues and challenges. 

What is EMDR Used For?

Trauma and PTSD: EMDR is most commonly used to help individuals process and recover from traumatic experiences and PTSD, such as childhood abuse or neglect, sexual assault, military combat, natural disasters, and car accidents. It is also used to treat anxiety disorders, depression, grief and loss, chronic pain, addictions, and stress.

Who Is EMDR For?

EMDR is suitable for a wide range of individuals, including adults, teens, children, veterans and first responders, survivors of abuse, victims of crime and violence, and individuals with phobias. You can also treat couples with EMDR!

EMDR is a versatile and effective therapy that can be tailored to meet the needs of various individuals, making it a valuable tool in the treatment of trauma and other psychological conditions.

Benefits of EMDR

EMDR offers a wide range of benefits, particularly for individuals dealing with trauma and related psychological issues. Some key benefits of EMDR therapy are reduced PTSD symptoms, reduced anxiety and depression, enhanced coping skills, rapid symptom relief, sustained improvement, and it aids in mind-body connection while also enhancing self-awareness. Many clients feel very empowered after received EMDR treatment. It gives one a pure sense of control over their holistic self. 

Overall, EMDR offers a powerful and effective approach to healing from trauma and other psychological conditions, providing relief, fostering resilience, and enhancing overall mental health.

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What happens in an EMDR session?


An EMDR session involves a structured process aimed at helping individuals process and integrate traumatic memories. Here is a detailed overview of what typically happens during an EMDR session:

1. Preparation and Introduction

  • Therapist Explanation: The therapist explains the EMDR process, its purpose, and what to expect during the session.

  • Establishing Safety: The therapist ensures the client feels safe and comfortable. This might involve teaching relaxation techniques or establishing a "safe place" in the client’s mind that they can retreat to if they become overwhelmed during the session. Typically, our therapists spend some time integrating talk therapy previous to conducting EMDR to establish a trusting rapport and relationship with the client. 


2. Assessment

  • Identifying the Target Memory: The client identifies a specific traumatic memory to focus on. This includes describing the visual image associated with the memory, any negative beliefs about oneself connected to the memory (e.g., "I am helpless"), and related physical sensations.


  • Positive Cognition: The client selects a positive belief they would like to replace the negative belief with (e.g., "I am in control”).


3. Desensitization

  • Bilateral Stimulation: The core component of EMDR, bilateral stimulation, is initiated. This often involves the client following the therapist's finger movements with their eyes, though other methods like vibrational buzzers or tapping can also be used.

  • Processing the Memory: As the client focuses on the traumatic memory and follows the bilateral stimulation, they may experience new thoughts, feelings, or memories. The therapist periodically checks in with the client and adjusts the process as needed.

  • Reducing Distress: The goal is to reduce the emotional intensity associated with the traumatic memory. This phase continues until the memory is no longer distressing for the client.


4. Installation

  • Strengthening Positive Beliefs: The client focuses on the positive belief they identified earlier while continuing with bilateral stimulation. The aim is to strengthen this positive cognition and integrate it with the traumatic memory.


5. Body Scan

  • Checking for Residual Distress: The client scans their body to identify any remaining physical tension or discomfort related to the traumatic memory. If distress remains, further processing may be necessary.


6. Closure

  • Stabilization: Before ending the session, the therapist ensures the client feels stable and grounded. This might involve using relaxation techniques or the "safe place" visualization.

  • Reviewing the Session: The therapist and client briefly review the session, discussing progress and any new insights.


7. Reevaluation

  • Assessing Progress: In subsequent sessions, the therapist and client reassess the progress made. They may decide to continue working on the same memory, address new memories, or focus on other issues as needed.


Throughout the session, the therapist provides support and guidance, helping the client navigate through the process of reprocessing and integrating their traumatic memories. EMDR sessions are typically conducted in a structured and phased approach, ensuring that the client remains safe and supported throughout their healing journey.

How is EMDR different from other forms of therapy?

EMDR differs from other therapeutic approaches in several key ways. It uses a specific mechanic of action by utilizing bilateral stimulation to reprocess negative memories. There is a very specific 8-phase protocol in administering treatment with a direct focus on trauma. EMDR delivers rapid results while treatment is of shorter duration than traditional talk therapy. 


EMDR is based on the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, which suggests that trauma disrupts the brain’s ability to process information adaptively. The goal of EMDR is to restore this processing. Other therapies are based on different models, such as cognitive-behavioral models, psychodynamic theories, or humanistic approaches.

Begin EMDR Therapy in Los Angeles, CA


Looking to begin EMDR? If you have been carrying the weight of unresolved trauma or emotional struggles it may be time to explore the transformative power of EMDR therapy. EMDR offers a unique approach to healing that does not involve talking extensively about painful memories. Here at the Holding Space, our team of caring and skilled therapists can help you take the first step to a happier life. To find out if EMDR therapy might be a fit for your individual needs follow the steps below:

  1. Contact us for a free 15-minute consultation.

  2. Speak with a compassionate EMDR therapist.

  3. Start your healing journey.


Other Therapy Services Offered at The Holding Space in Los Angeles, CA

At the Holding Space, we offer more than just Brainspotting therapy in Los Angeles, CA. We provide many other forms of therapy to help people effectively manage their mental health issues. We also specialize in other therapy services including Anxiety treatment, Depression treatment, Relational therapy, Sex and Intimacy therapy, LGBTQ+ Affirmative therapy, Art Therapy, Brainspotting and Therapy for AddictionContact us today to learn more about our Los Angeles-based practice and take the first step to a happier, more fulfilling future.

There are many articles written about EMDR all over the web. Psychology Today has a plethora of them; I encourage anyone interested in EMDR to do a quick google and get informed. Here is one fascinating article about EMDR:

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