Recently more clients have expressed an interest in EMDR. What exactly is EMDR? EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, is a technique that is used to stimulate the nervous system and helps emotional memories and feelings that are “stuck” to be worked through or processed. It is a great way to work through triggers, nightmares, depression, anxiety, unresolved childhood issues, fears, and much much more! It takes only a few weeks and will resolve many of these problems FAST!

EMDR is also great for those of you trying to cope with social anxiety, past child abuse issues, body image problems, stop cravings for drugs, food, cigarettes, etc. It is a break through therapy technique that has proven to be extremely successful!

As a specialist in the treatment of trauma, I felt it was very important for me to learn this technique, as it is the most recommended approach to therapy for people suffering from problems caused by traumatic events, for example, sexual abuse, rape, a car accident, natural disasters, etc. BUT EMDR is good for what is called, “little traumas” as well. “Little traumas” are events that happened in childhood or later that are not considered major traumatic events. They are events that caused you to develop negative beliefs about yourself and interfere in the quality of your life. Some examples of “little traumas” my include things like: being embarrassed at school, being made fun of for the way you looked, or maybe you got a bad grade and your mom was upset with you. These may have caused you to see yourself in a negative way. They then form a way of viewing yourself that is not realistic or can get in your way of being successful, happy and fulfilled in your life! This treatment approach helps locate THESE events and resolves them too! That means you no longer have to believe you are unlovable, not smart enough, not able to be successful, socially awkward, not able to have a real relationship, etc. etc. etc. We all experience them.

You know these messages we all tell ourselves! When these “little traumas” that caused you to form negative beliefs about yourself are resolved, you no longer see your life the same way! EMDR frees you up to significantly improve the quality of your life! It is really amazing!

So what is EMDR anyways? EMDR is based on a theory of neurological memory storage. The idea is that negative beliefs about ourselves are formed because events happened in our lives that were not fully processed in our brain, neurologically. They are stuck in what is called the “Emotional Memories.”

Ever feel like you are reacting to something too strongly and you don’t know why – or you are over-reacting to a situation? This happens when something unresolved is triggered in our Emotional Memory. Emotional memories have no sense of time. When they are triggered, you experience the same feelings you had in the past, BUT you experience them NOW, in the present. The original event that caused this feeling is stuck and unprocessed in the emotional memory area of your brain! EMDR helps get these feelings and memories unstuck so you can let them go and they become like a distant memory! Isn’t that amazing?

EMDR uses what is called, “bilateral stimulation” to get your nervous system reprocessing stuck emotional memories. Bilateral stimulation is a manipulation of the right and left sides of your brain through eye movements, tapping, or sound that enables memories to be fully processed. It mimics the effects of Rapid Eye Movements during sleep.

While you sleep, a lot of emotional issues are worked through in your dreams. Sleep regenerates you and one of the important things that happens during sleep is the processing of your emotions from the day through dreaming. During your dream sleep stage, your eyes move rapidly from side to side (bilaterally). It is this movement that helps move emotional memories to what is called “Narrative Memory Storage.”

In Narrative Memory Storage, you remember events but they are more distant and don’t have the intense emotions associated with them, like when the events occurred. The memory is moved from an area in one part of the brain to another. Your feelings are more resolved as a result. This is what happens when people say – “sleep on it and see what you think in the morning.” You may literally see things differently as a result of sleeping and dreaming!

It may sound strange, but it is based upon scientific evidence! It is a well-documented therapeutic technique that only clinicians and psychiatrists who are trained in the use of EMDR can utilize. Never seek out bilateral stimulation by someone who is not specifically trained in EMDR. The entire process is important.

EMDR is not for everyone. There are some people who won’t be able to tolerate the treatment well. Therefore, I will need to meet with you to assess if EMDR is right for you.

In addition, for so many of you who have gone to talk therapy for years and are still struggling with some of the same issues… EMDR is great for getting you over that last hump! You can deal with things in talk therapy to a point, but EMDR will finish the job!

Contact me if you would like to learn more about EMDR! Most people only have to attend between 3 - 12 EMDR sessions to complete the treatment! That’s it! It can take years of therapy down to just a few sessions!

You can learn more about EMDR on the official EMDR website at or

Please note: the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, CAMFT, and most other professional organizations fully endorse the use of EMDR as long as it is performed by a clinician who is properly trained in its use. It is considered an essential treatment for many emotional difficulties and is especially recommended by trauma experts!

Call me for more information!

Cynthia A. Henrie, MFT, BCETS
Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress
774 Terrace 49, LA, CA 90042 OR
1460 7th Street, Suite 206, Santa Monica, CA 90401
(323) 829-3548

Author's Bio: 

Ms. Cynthia A. Henrie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress. She graduated from Antioch University with her MA in Clinical Psychology with a focus on Adolescence and Feminist Therapy. Ms. Henrie specializes in helping women, adults, teens and their families. She works with women's issues, life crisis or life transitions, trauma of all types, gay and lesbian issues, teen/adult survivors of childhood abuse, incest/sexual abuse, sexual assault/rape, victims of violent crimes, adolescent issues, gender identity issues and dissociative disorders. Ms. Henrie uses a variety of treatment modalities which include talk therapy, sandplay, art and creative therapies, TAT, EMDR and Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy. Recognized my Metropolitan Who's Who 2007.