What is EMDR Therapy for Anxiety?

How Does EMDR Therapy Work

What is EMDR Therapy for Anxiety: In today’s fast-paced world, anxiety has become a prevalent issue affecting millions of people worldwide. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an alternative method that some individuals use to address their anxiety despite the effectiveness of traditional therapy approaches for many. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the definition, effectiveness, mechanism, release of trauma, therapy process, suitability, pros, and cons of EMDR therapy for anxiety. 

Table of Contents

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy Francine Shapiro developed in the late 1980s.  

The idea behind this approach is that when someone undergoes a traumatic experience, their brain may not fully process the event causing it to remain trapped in its original and distressing form. This can lead to long-lasting adverse effects on the person’s well-being. 

This can lead to psychological distress and other symptoms. EMDR aims to help individuals process these traumatic experiences to reduce their negative impact on their mental health. 

EMDR is a different type of talk therapy that uses bilateral stimulation to help process distressing memories. This stimulation can be through eye movements, sounds, or taps. The treatment can activate the brain’s natural healing process to reduce symptoms and emotional resolution. 

The goal of EMDR is to help the client process the memory in a new and less distressing way, allowing them to integrate the experience into their overall life story and move forward more healthily. 

EMDR is effective in treating a range of psychological conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and phobias. It is also used to help clients develop positive self-beliefs and improve their overall well-being. 

what is emdr therapy for anxiety

What is EMDR Therapy for Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders can have a significant impact on a person’s life. One effective treatment option for this condition is EMDR therapy. It involves a structured protocol that helps address and alleviate anxiety symptoms. 

Typically, anxiety arises from past traumatic experiences or distressing memories that remain unprocessed and continue to trigger anxious responses.  

EMDR therapy targets these underlying memories by desensitizing the emotional charge associated with them and facilitating their reprocessing.  

This process can help individuals experience relief from anxiety symptoms and develop more adaptive coping mechanisms. 

By addressing the root cause of anxiety, EMDR therapy can be an effective way to overcome this condition and improve overall well-being. 

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

EMDR therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals struggling with traumatic memories. It involves accessing and reprocessing these memories stored in the brain’s neural networks.  

During EMDR sessions, the therapist guides the client through bilateral stimulation while focusing on specific distressing memories. 

This bilateral stimulation facilitates the brain’s information processing system that allows individuals to integrate the distressing memories into their overall memory network. 

This integration helps to reduce the emotional intensity of the memories, leading to symptom reduction and emotional resolution. 

Repeated sets of bilateral stimulation are used to further diminish the emotional intensity of the memories and help the individual come to terms with their past experiences. 

EMDR therapy has proven to be effective in treating a range of mental health conditions like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. 

How Does EMDR Release Trauma?

Traumatic experiences can have a lasting impact on an individual’s mental health. In many cases, such experiences are stored in the brain in an unprocessed form, which can lead to the persistence of distressing symptoms. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aims to facilitate the release of trauma by linking these memories with adaptive information. 

The EMDR therapy involves the individual recalling the traumatic event while tracking a moving object or receiving bilateral sensory input, such as tapping on the hands. 

As a result, the emotional charge associated with the traumatic memories decreases, allowing the individual to gain a new perspective on the experiences and develop more adaptive coping mechanisms. 

Research has shown that EMDR therapy can be effective in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related conditions. 

By releasing trauma and relieving associated symptoms, individuals can experience improved psychological well-being and a better quality of life. 

The Process of EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy is a comprehensive treatment that usually includes eight phases, which are carefully designed to address and process distressing memories systematically. The phases include history-taking, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and reevaluation. 

During the therapy, the therapist collaborates with the client to identify the memories that need to be targeted. The therapist facilitates the reprocessing of these memories and helps to reinforce positive beliefs and coping mechanisms. 

The structured nature of EMDR therapy benefits both the therapist and the client, as it provides a clear roadmap that leads to effective treatment outcomes. 

Overall, EMDR therapy is a powerful tool that can help individuals overcome the adverse effects of traumatic experiences. 

Who Is EMDR Appropriate For?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a form of psychotherapy effective in treating anxiety disorders, particularly those stemming from past traumatic experiences. 

However, it is essential to note that individuals must have sufficient emotional stability and coping skills to participate in EMDR therapy for it to be effective.  

It is also worth noting that while EMDR has been successful in treating a wide range of populations, it may not be appropriate for individuals with certain psychiatric conditions or severe dissociation. 

It is highly recommended that individuals interested in pursuing EMDR therapy consult with a qualified therapist to determine if it is the right approach for their unique needs. 

This will help ensure that individuals receive the appropriate care and support they need to address their anxiety-related symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. 

Pros and Cons of EMDR


  • Efficacy in treating trauma-related symptoms, including anxiety: Research has consistently demonstrated the effectiveness of EMDR therapy in reducing symptoms of anxiety and trauma-related disorders. 
  • Shorter treatment duration compared to traditional therapy approaches: EMDR therapy typically requires fewer sessions compared to traditional talk therapy, making it a time-efficient treatment option. 
  • EMDR therapy can lead to long-lasting symptom relief and improved quality of life. Many individuals experience lasting improvements in their symptoms and overall well-being following it. 


  • Intensity of processing traumatic memories may temporarily increase distress: While EMDR therapy aims to reduce distress associated with traumatic memories, the process of reprocessing these memories may temporarily increase emotional distress. 
  • Not suitable for individuals with certain psychiatric conditions or severe dissociation: EMDR therapy may not be appropriate for individuals with certain psychiatric conditions or severe dissociation, as it may exacerbate symptoms or lead to destabilization. 
  • Requires a trained therapist experienced in EMDR protocol: To ensure safe and effective treatment, individuals need to work with a qualified therapist who has received specialized training in EMDR therapy. 


EMDR therapy is a promising treatment for people struggling with anxiety caused by traumatic memories. The therapy uses a structured protocol and bilateral stimulation to aid the processing and integration of distressing memories. 

This reduces symptoms and improves psychological well-being. However, it is essential for individuals considering EMDR therapy to consult with a qualified therapist to determine its suitability and ensure safe and effective treatment. 

Start EMDR Therapy Today with Wellspring Counselling

Connect with licensed therapists for EMDR therapy via video, messaging, or phone to unlock healing and nurture your mental health. 

Take the courageous step towards a brighter future by scheduling your online EMDR therapy session with Wellspring Counselling. Start your transformation today. 

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