EMDR Therapy in NYC

Discover how EMDR therapy helps New Yorkers transcend the impact of trauma and stress-related disorders by leveraging the brain’s natural healing processes by rewiring your brain’s neural networks that are no longer serving you.

EMDR Therapy helps New Yorker reprocess traumatic memory

What is EMDR Therapy?

If you’re looking for EMDR therapy in NYC, you’ve come to the right place. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a groundbreaking therapeutic modality that offers a unique approach to treating a wide range of issues, including trauma, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others.

EMDR involves guiding clients through bilateral eye movements while recalling traumatic or triggering experiences, a process thought to mimic the psychological state of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, aiding in the processing and integration of traumatic memories. Its effectiveness, especially in treating PTSD and other trauma-related disorders, is well-supported by scientific research and recognized by organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA).

Through EMDR therapy, individuals can experience significant reductions in the symptoms of PTSD, often in fewer sessions compared to traditional talk therapy. It is an invaluable tool in modern therapeutic practice because it uses interventions that are intended to rewire the nervous system on an emotional, somatic level rather than a cognitive one. We cannot “think” our way out of trauma, we have to honor what happened, feel our way through it and move towards unburdening.

How does EMDR Therapy Work?

EMDR therapy unfolds through a structured 8-phase process, each step crucial to the therapeutic journey. Before walking you through the phases, we’ll jump forward to explaining one of the phases in more detail: Desensitization.

Desensitization Phase in EMDR Therapy:

During the desensitization phase of EMDR, the therapist facilitates the client’s processing of a targeted memory through a technique known as bilateral stimulation. This is a distinctive feature of EMDR and is crucial for its effectiveness.

What is Bilateral Stimulation?

Bilateral stimulation involves alternating stimulation of the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This is achieved through a series of guided eye movements, auditory tones, or tactile taps. The therapist might ask the client to follow their hand as it moves side to side, listen to tones that alternate between the left and right ear, or feel taps that alternate from left to right on the body.

The Process of Bilateral Stimulation:

Eye Movements: The most common form of bilateral stimulation, where the therapist moves their hand back and forth, and the client follows this movement with their eyes. It’s believed to mimic the natural eye movement patterns during REM sleep, facilitating the processing of emotional material.

Auditory Tones or Taps: For clients who may not be comfortable with or responsive to eye movements, auditory tones through headphones or gentle, rhythmic tapping on the hands or knees can be used. This alternation also stimulates the brain bilaterally.

Focus on the Memory: While engaging in bilateral stimulation, the client focuses on the specific traumatic memory, along with the emotions and body sensations associated with it. The therapist guides the client to notice what comes up without judgment or censorship.

Processing: As bilateral stimulation continues, clients often find that the emotional charge associated with the memory decreases. The memory starts to transform as the client processes it, leading to shifts in how it is experienced emotionally and physically.

This phase is critical in helping the client to desensitize the emotional impact of the memory, making it less distressing and more manageable. It’s a pivotal step in the EMDR process that allows for the transformation of the traumatic memory into one that no longer exerts the same negative hold over the individual’s emotional well-being.

The Eight Phases of EMDR Therapy

Now that you have a better understanding of what desensitization is in the context of EMDR Therapy, let’s take a look at how the entire 8-phase process unfolds.

Phase 1
Phase 1

History and Treatment Planning

The therapist assesses the client's history and identifies potential targets for EMDR processing, including distressing memories and current situations causing emotional distress.

Phase 2
Phase 2


The therapist establishes trust and explains the EMDR process, ensuring the client is comfortable and ready.

Phase 3
Phase 3


The client selects a specific memory to target, identifying the visual image related to the memory, negative beliefs about themselves, and related emotions and bodily sensations.

Phase 4
Phase 4


The therapist leads the client through bilateral stimulation using eye movements, sounds, or taps while the client focuses on the memory, leading to shifts in the emotions and physical sensations associated with the memory.

Phase 5
Phase 5


The client focuses on a positive belief while the therapist continues with the bilateral stimulation.

Phase 6
Phase 6

Body Scan

The client is asked to think of the target memory and notice any residual tension or uncomfortable sensations in the body, which are then targeted for further EMDR processing.

Phase 7
Phase 7


This phase ensures the client leaves each session feeling better than when they arrived, employing relaxation techniques if needed and increasing their window of tolerance.

Phase 8
Phase 8


At the beginning of each session, the therapist checks the client’s progress and decides on the next steps.

Who Can Benefit from EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy is a versatile treatment modality that can aid a wide range of individuals. While it is most renowned for its effectiveness in treating trauma and PTSD, people with other conditions may find the benefits of EMDR therapy in NYC particularly helpful as well.

  • PTSD and Trauma: Helps process and reduce the impact of traumatic events.
  • Anxiety and Depression: Treats anxiety disorders and depression, especially when linked to past trauma.
  • Abuse or Neglect: Aids in healing from the pain of abuse or neglect.
  • Grief and Loss: Helps process grief and come to terms with loss.
  • Self-Esteem: Addresses negative self-beliefs to improve self-worth.
  • Phobias: Desensitizes and reprocesses specific phobias or fears.
  • First Responders and Veterans: Provides relief from PTSD symptoms for those in high-stress occupations.

FAQs About EMDR Therapy

How effective is EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy is widely recognized as an effective treatment, particularly for PTSD and trauma-related disorders. Its efficacy is supported by numerous studies and endorsed by organizations like the American Psychological Association and the World Health Organization.

How long does EMDR therapy typically take?

The duration varies depending on the individual and the complexity of their issues. EMDR therapy sessions typically last 50-60 minutes and clients can make progress within a minimum of 10-12 sessions. However, treatment often lasts longer depending on each person and can range anywhere from a few months to more than a year depending on numerous factors. This can be discussed in more with the therapist providing the treatement.

Can EMDR be used to treat conditions other than trauma and PTSD?

Yes, EMDR has been found effective in treating a variety of conditions including anxiety, depression, phobias, and stress-related issues.

Is EMDR therapy covered by insurance in New York?

Coverage varies depending on your specific insurance plan and the practice. Holding Hope MFT is an out-of-network provider, so services are only reimbursed if you have out-of-network mental health benefits as part of your New York insurance plan. We recommend contacting your insurance provider directly to discuss your benefits and any out-of-pocket costs.

Can I find EMDR therapists that specialize in a particular issue in NYC?

Yes! Holding Hope MFT has several therapists specializing in EMDR with subspecialties in a number of areas including childhood traumas, sexual trauma, and grief and loss counseling. NYC also has a diverse community of EMDR therapists with expertise in various areas. Reach out to us for a free consultation. If for any reason we are not able to provide the subspecialized care you need or if we believe another provider would be a better fit, we will gladly provide you with a referral to one of our many incredible colleagues that can.

Can EMDR be combined with other forms of therapy?

Yes! EMDR can often be effectively integrated with other therapeutic approaches. Your therapist will work with you to create a treatment plan that best suits your individual needs.

Is EMDR Right for You?

If you’re in the NYC area and struggling with any psychological issues rooted in trauma or other adverse experiences, EMDR therapy could offer a path toward healing and emotional resilience. We encourage you to reach out to us to schedule a free consultation for EMDR Therapy in New York City. 

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