Tim Ervin, LCPC, BCC, CH

EMDR Therapy


(Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing)

What is EMDR?


EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), as with most therapy approaches, focuses on the individual’s present concerns. The EMDR approach believes past emotionally-charged experiences are overly influencing your present emotions, sensations, and thoughts about yourself. As an example: “Do you ever feel worthless although you know you are a worthwhile person?” EMDR processing helps you break through the emotional blocks that are keeping you from living an adaptive, emotionally healthy life. EMDR uses rapid sets of eye movements to help you update disturbing experiences, much like what occurs when we sleep. During sleep, we alternate between regular sleep and REM (rapid eye movement). This sleep pattern helps you process things that are troubling you. EMDR replicates this sleep pattern by alternating between sets of eye movements and brief reports about what you are noticing. This alternating process helps you update your memories to a healthier present perspective.


Like many people, the word may conjure up images of a stage-villain who uses swinging a pocket watch to bring about a hypnotic state. Actually, hypnosis exhibits little resemblance to these stereotypical representations. According to John Kihlstrom (psychologist), "The hypnotist does not hypnotize the individual. Rather, the hypnotist serves as a sort of coach or tutor whose job is to help the person become hypnotized."


Hypnosis is often described as a sleep-like trance state; rather, it is better expressed as a state of focused attention, heightened suggestibility, and vivid fantasies. People in a hypnotic state often seem sleepy and unaware, but in reality, they are in a state of hyper-awareness and focus.


What does an EMDR session look like?



Overall Treatment Planning

  • You have come to treatment expressing concerns. • Your therapist will help you understand the dynamics of the presenting concerns and how to adaptively manage them. • An overall treatment plan will be developed that will accomplish your goals. • Within that treatment plan, EMDR, along with other therapy approaches, will be used to accomplish your treatment goals.
  • Like many people, the word may conjure up images of a stage-villain who uses swinging a pocket watch to bring about a hypnotic state. Actually, hypnosis exhibits little resemblance to these stereotypical representations. According to John Kihlstrom (psychologist), "The hypnotist does not hypnotize the individual. Rather, the hypnotist serves as a sort of coach or tutor whose job is to help the person become hypnotized."
  • Hypnosis is often described as a sleep-like trance state; rather, it is better expressed as a state of focused attention, heightened suggestibility, and vivid fantasies. People in a hypnotic state often seem sleepy and unaware, but in reality, they are in a state of hyper-awareness and focus.



The EMDR session:

  • You will be asked a set of questions to access and activate the negative experience and the desired adaptive resolution. • Sets of rapid eye movement (or other forms of bilateral stimulation) will be applied. • You will be encouraged to just “free associate” and allow the brain to work through the experience.
  • Sets of eye movements will be alternated with brief reports about what you are experiencing. • EMDR processing will continue until the past experience has been updated to an adaptive present perspective. • With long standing issues, this process may take multiple sessions.



Using what you learned:

  • Once the disturbing experiences have been updated, you and your therapist will work together to integrate these new insights and perspectives into your daily life.