What To Expect After EMDR Therapy

What To Expect After EMDR Therapy

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a form of psychotherapy designed to help individuals work through traumatic memories. This technique involves the use of eye movements to stimulate the brain, aiding in the emotional processing of these memories.

Over recent years, EMDR has gained popularity for its effectiveness in addressing trauma-related issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex trauma, alongside a range of other conditions including depression, anxiety, phobias, eating disorders, and more.

How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR aims to assist in the processing of traumatic experiences by mentally revisiting them while simultaneously diverting focus elsewhere, employing a mix of verbal and non-verbal cues.

For instance, if you’re grappling with a persistent memory from the past, you’ll use eye movements to shift your focus away from the distressing memory towards something neutral or positive.

Through this technique, therapists guide individuals towards managing their thoughts and emotions, preventing these from overwhelming their daily lives.

Who Can Benefit From EMDR Therapy?

What To Expect After EMDR Therapy

Anyone who has experienced significant trauma can benefit from EMDR therapy. However, it is most commonly used with people who have been exposed to multiple traumas.

These include victims of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, natural disasters, war, etc. To learn more about trauma and its effects, “How to Talk About Trauma in Therapy” can provide additional insights.

People with PTSD often suffer from flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, panic attacks, and/or hypervigilance. They may feel numb, detached, or emotionally shut down.

They may avoid certain situations, engage in self-destructive behaviors, or even attempt suicide.

People who have suffered from severe childhood trauma may struggle with low self-esteem, substance abuse, suicidal ideation, and/or depression.

Those who have experienced chronic pain or physical injuries may have difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

Those who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder may suffer from frequent mood swings, impulsive behavior, and unstable relationships.

Many individuals who have experienced early neglect or abuse may develop attachment issues.

Why Should I Choose EMDR Treatment?

There are several reasons why you should choose EMDR therapy for yourself. First, it is one of the few treatments proven to effectively treat trauma-related disorders.

Second, it is highly effective at helping you recover from trauma. Third, it is relatively easy to learn how to do. Fourth, it is safe and doesn’t involve any drugs or surgery. Finally, it takes less than an hour per session.

How Will I Feel After EMDR Treatment?

You may feel anxious before each session begins. However, once you begin the treatment, you will likely start feeling calmer and more relaxed.

During sessions, you may notice that your emotions are changing. For instance, if you were previously experiencing negative emotions, you might find yourself becoming angry or sad.

If you were feeling calm, you may suddenly become upset. The therapist will work with you to adjust your emotional state during the session.

After the session ends, you may feel tired. It is normal to feel exhausted after completing a therapy session.

Will My Trauma Be Removed During EMDR Therapy?

EMDR works by helping you process your traumatic memories. As such, it will not remove the trauma itself.  However, it allows you to better cope with the trauma and prevent it from affecting your daily life. For further reading on dealing with the aftermath of trauma, “How to Heal Deep Emotional Wounds” might be beneficial.

Can EMDR Help Me With Other Problems?

EMDR is designed to be used as a standalone therapy. However, it can also be combined with other therapies to address additional problems.

For example, it can be used along with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to help you manage anxiety.  For those exploring options for anxiety, “Can You Go to the Hospital for Anxiety?” provides relevant information.

Are There Any Side Effects Associated With EMDR?

Like all forms of psychotherapy, there are some potential side effects associated with EMDR. In general, these include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tingling sensations
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shaking
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Changes in blood pressure

If you experience any of these symptoms, please tell your therapist immediately so they can make adjustments to ensure that you remain comfortable throughout the treatment.

How To Practice Self Care After EMDR

What To Expect After EMDR Therapy

It is important to take care of yourself after receiving EMDR therapy. This includes eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, taking breaks when needed, and avoiding alcohol and drugs.

How Long Does EMDR Take?

The length of time required to complete EMDR varies depending on the individual. Typically, most people need between 10–20 sessions to fully recover.

Can I Have EMDR Treatment For Addiction?

Yes! EMDR has been shown to be very effective at treating addiction. In fact, many therapists use EMDR as part of their approach to treating substance abuse.

Do You Need A Referral From Another Therapist?

No. Many therapists offer EMDR without requiring referrals.

How Long Does A Therapist Need To Train In Order To Practice EMDR?

Therapists who have completed training in EMDR typically receive certification through the American EMDR Association. Certification requires about 1 year of study and practice.

What Conditions Can EMDR treat?

Anyone who has experienced trauma can benefit from EMDR. Although anyone can receive this form of therapy, it is typically recommended for those suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety, phobias, OCD, and/or relationship issues.


To conclude, after experiencing trauma EMDR treatment can help to alleviate symptoms of PTSD or CPTSD.

After you have undertaken EMDR therapy you may feel like a new person. You may even feel like you’ve been given a second chance at life.

However EMDR therapy can feel like a grueling process as it brings up memories that you have been burying for a long time, therefore, it is important to seek out professional support while undergoing EMDR therapy and to surround yourself with a strong support network.

About our Author Michelle Landeros, LMFT license# 115130
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT

Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.

Last updated: July 13, 2024