Thrive Psychology Group - Los Angeles


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence based form of psychotherapy designed to treat trauma and reduce negative emotions, anxiety, and other reactions associated with traumatic events. It is one of the best validated and researched treatments for trauma and used by the V.A., Department of Defense and the World Health Organization.


EMDR was originally developed to treat the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and has since expanded to treating anxiety, phobias, depression, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction and stress caused by chronic diseases. EMDR is also a powerful tool to treat developmental trauma, a term used to describe a childhood marked with conflict, emotionally difficult parents, distress, or other events that make a child feel anxious or unsafe. This type of home environment can cause a person to grow up with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. The goal of EMDR is to fully process past experiences and sort out the emotions attached to those experiences. Negative thoughts and feelings that are no longer useful are replaced with positive thoughts and feelings that will encourage a healthier response.


EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment. After the clinician takes a thorough history, she determines which memory to target first, she asks the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind, then bilateral stimulation (through eye movements, buzzers, tapping, or sound) is used to stimulate reprocessing. This process is believed to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, when memories are processed in the brain. Some clients describe the process as feeling like a lucid dream or watching a movie of events from their life. In successful EMDR therapy, the memories become less disturbing and the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level. Unlike other forms of therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated mental and emotional processes. 


EMDR is a powerful method for helping a client gain a sense of control and empowerment over themselves and their lives. Unresolved traumas can cause you to feel out of control of your own emotional reactions, but EMDR gives you back the control. You no longer live feeling like you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

If you are interested in learning more about EMDR, schedule a free 30-minute consult with one of our EMDR clinicians, Dr. Charlynn Ruan (Santa Monica-Venice office), Dr. Jaclyn Friedenthal (Santa Monica-Downtown), or Dr. Kristie Holmes (Beverly Hills office).