A traumatic experience can have a profoundly damaging influence on the human mind, with long-term devastating consequences. As a result of traumatic events, PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, follows.

These traumatic events might leave you with incredibly vivid memories as well as troubling thoughts and feelings, which can make it difficult to function in your daily life.

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a one-of-a-kind treatment that helps people recover from trauma or other traumatic life events.

Moreover, according to the EMDR Research Foundation, EMDR has been clinically verified by more than 30 controlled research studies. EMDR is an integrated psychotherapy strategy for the treatment of trauma that has been extensively researched and confirmed to be successful.

There has been increasing research investigating the effectiveness of EMDR in different somatic and psychiatric disorders with previous associated psychological trauma. In this article, we’ll discuss the success of the therapy in different studies. 

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR is a type of psychotherapy established by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. Throughout the treatment, the patient is encouraged to guide their eye movements in a precise manner while recalling a specific memory from their traumatic event.

The goal is for people to be able to comprehend and incorporate these painful experiences into their everyday lives. Exposure to these experiences should lessen the impact over time.

8 Stages of an EMDR Therapy

EMDR is based on the idea that traumatic memories cause changes in the brain. These modifications prevent the mind from correctly processing information, resulting in uneasiness and intrusive thoughts.

Experts think that recalling traumatic situations while making quick eye movements assists the brain in properly assimilating and integrating these memories into the person’s life.

Individuals use EMDR to safely reprocess distressing experiences until it no longer has a psychological impact on their life. Exposure to unpleasant memories will eventually stop triggering negative emotions and symptoms.

Following are the 8 Stages of an EMDR Therapy:

Client History

The therapist will assess the client’s profile throughout the initial stages of EMDR treatment. Stage one’s primary purpose is to discover as much as possible about their patient, especially their ability to withstand traumatic memories.

There is a strong probability the patient may experience a number of stressful incidents. The treatment goal will be determined at the end of stage one.

EMDR Therapy Preparation

In this stage, the therapist will build a calm and good interaction with the patient. By building a therapeutic connection with the client and teaching them EMDR, the therapist will create the framework for the therapy.

When the treatment begins, the therapist will guide the patient through coping methods, such as hand signals or gestures.

Client Assessment

After that, the client will select a picture to symbolize each memory, noting any unpleasant thoughts or physical feelings that come with it. Then they will come up with a good concept to replace the negative ones.


The desensitization phase is crucial for successful treatment response.  During desensitization, the therapist brings to the client’s attention a selected scene from a traumatic experience, as well as your negative self-belief and emotional and bodily reactions to the scene.

The therapist will ask the patient to come up with both a good and negative statement or emotion to explain their feelings about the situation.


This step focuses on implanting the good concepts specified by the client.

Body Scan

Stage six is a meditation approach in which a medical expert scans the patient’s complete body for recurrent physical sensations while they are reliving their traumatic incident.


The therapist will use self-control strategies to stabilize the client at the end of each session. Between sessions, the therapist will clarify what the client may expect.

Reevaluation of Treatment Effect

The therapist will assess the patient’s present mental state and discuss how they feel the patient is progressing.

Individuals will learn to recognize their targets, practice appropriate relaxation techniques, and become desensitized to traumatic responses through EMDR. It can help those who have had a single traumatic event or who have a history of complicated trauma.

Many mental health organizations also acknowledge it as an effective treatment for trauma and other problems.

EMDR Therapy Success Rate

More than 4,000 mental health practitioners are members of the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA). On the other hand, more than 100,000 clinicians have received EMDR certification after completing rigorous training.

EMDR has been recommended as a treatment for PTSD by several worldwide health and mental health organizations, based on the results of clinical data that proves its efficacy. These are some of them:

  1. The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and the American Psychiatric Association have both supported EMDR treatment.
  2. WHO (World Health Organization)
  3. United Kingdom’s National Institutes of Clinical Excellence

Here’s some research conducted on the efficiency of EMDR Therapy.

  • According to the EMDR Research Foundation, over 30 studies have recorded the success of EMDR therapy for issues such as sexual abuse, PTSD, rape, childhood trauma, life-threatening accidents, anxiety, substance abuse, and depression over the last 30 years.
  • Some studies by EMDR Institute, Inc. revealed that after only three 90-minute sessions, 84% to 90 % of single-trauma victims no longer have PTSD.
  • HMO Kaiser Permanente conducted research that revealed that after only six 50-minute sessions, 77% of multiple-trauma victims and 100% of single-trauma victims were no longer diagnosed with PTSD.
  • A study conducted in 2010 revealed that EMDR improves the cognitive processing of emotions and the structure of concepts in long-term memory storage.

Finally, the data suggests that EMDR is a valuable technique. As a consequence, it can help to reduce symptoms that arise as a result of traumatic or life-threatening occurrences. Therefore, this method of assisting an individual’s mental health is beneficial.

Final Thoughts

EMDR is an effective treatment for treating PTSD, trauma, panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. EMDR treatment also tries to establish the necessary circumstances for the improper emotions, beliefs, and bodily sensations based on unresolved trauma to be disqualified.

Medical practitioners can use EMDR treatment to transform their patients’ toxic and self-destructive thoughts into healthy and constructive beliefs and behaviors that will improve their life.

While there’s no set equation to establish its success rate, the extensive research indicates that EMDR is pretty successful at treating different mental disorders. 


  • Mary-Beth Zolik, M.Ed LMHC

    Mary-Beth is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with a M.Ed in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Montevallo. Mary-Beth has been in the field of psychology in a variety of roles for the past 20 years.

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