How Can Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Benefit My Healing Journey?

How Can Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Benefit My Healing Journey?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Mental health disorders are complex. Each individual experiences any particular mental health condition uniquely. That’s why treatment facilities must use customized plans for treating mental health disorders. Also, while traditional therapies and medications can be vital for healing, new treatment methods have surfaced over the years. Some of these new treatments are technologically based while others can be incorporated into in-person therapy. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an in-person treatment that many have found to be effective.

Mental health disorders can affect many different areas of one’s life. These areas can include sleep, social life, mood, work life, and eating habits, and more. A few of the more common mental health disorders are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.

At First Steps Recovery, clients who are coping with mental health symptoms are provided with a personalized treatment plan to help overcome these challenges. Paving the way for a healthy, prosperous life is of utmost importance at First Steps Recovery. To this end, there are numerous treatments and therapies offered to fit each client’s individual needs. One of these services offered is EMDR.

Treating Mental Health Disorders at First Steps Recovery

At First Steps Recovery, treatment is available for the following mental health disorders:

  • Anxiety
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • PTSD/trauma

First Steps Recovery offers holistic and clinical treatments for clients coping with any mental health disorder. The goal of treatment is to uncover the underlying causes of the mental health disorder, find and practice healthy coping mechanisms, and reshape one’s lifestyle. While mental health disorders are challenging to overcome, it is possible with assistance from First Steps Recovery. Clients experiencing mental health disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, and/or depression may benefit from EMDR.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Experiencing trauma can negatively impact one’s mental health and lead to PTSD. Some of the symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Flashbacks
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Panic attacks
  • Alteration of mood or mood swings
  • Distorted beliefs
  • Irritability
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Reckless behavior
  • Problems with memory

The parts of the brain associated with stress are also greatly affected, and individuals with PTSD may experience increased levels of stress. What’s more, clients often feel that to overcome these symptoms, they must turn to alcohol or drugs. This can lead to a co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD). It is important to find the root causes of trauma or PTSD to begin healing from one or more disorders arising from trauma.


Anxiety can interfere with daily activities related to work, school, or relationships. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and phobias are a few types of anxiety disorders. Symptoms of anxiety can include the following:

  • Fear
  • Dread
  • Uneasiness
  • Restlessness
  • Uncontrollable thoughts or beliefs
  • Pounding or rapid heartbeat
  • Unexplained aches or pains
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Avoiding certain activities because they induce stress


Anxiety and depression are often experienced simultaneously. However, this is not always the case. Either disorder can exist by itself.

Depression is characterized by consistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness. One may feel like there is no purpose to their life and lose interest in hobbies and activities that they used to enjoy. These are common depression symptoms:

  • Lack of energy
  • Constant tiredness
  • Feeling like one is moving in slow motion
  • Having slowed movement in general
  • Sleeping more hours
  • Having issues with decision-making
  • Experiencing difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • Losing or gaining weight
  • Having suicidal thoughts

What Is EMDR?

As mentioned previously, EMDR is typically encouraged for clients with PTSD or other trauma disorders, but those with anxiety and depression may also benefit. Additionally, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, and personality disorders can be treated in part by EMDR.

EMDR helps clients process traumas without having to discuss the traumatic event in great detail, which can be helpful for many clients. Therapists who use EMDR encourage their clients to bring to mind distressing memories and current triggers. While holding the images related to their trauma in mind, clients engage in eye movements that enable their brains to fully process the memory. Alternatively, the therapist may use tapping or tones to help the client process the memory. This technique affects the client’s nervous system, allowing for the distress to work itself out naturally.

Clients who participate in EMDR also work on changing their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in relation to the memory. They also may work with self-calming techniques between sessions and chart their progress in feeling free from negative memories and feelings.

What Are the Benefits of EMDR?

By reprocessing traumatic memories or underlying causes of the mental health disorder at hand, clients can begin to build a life free from crippling anxiety and stress. Mental health disorders often leave clients feeling caged in by their symptoms and experiences. EMDR, however, provides clients with a first step in creating a prosperous life. Clients learn how to detach from their traumatic memories, heal from them, and begin to build a life free from their past experiences.

Here at First Steps Recovery, we offer eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) for clients coping with mental health disorders. Clients coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), other trauma disorders, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, and personality disorders are all encouraged to participate in EMDR. This treatment is directed by a therapist as the client usually moves their eyes in a certain manner to reprocess their experiences. Traumatic experiences or other underlying mental health causes can block clients from making progress with their healing. Reprocessing the event to create more manageable thoughts, feelings, and behaviors allows clients to create a happier, healthier life without feeling limited. To learn more, please call us at (844) 489-0836.

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