By definition, trauma is any event that has a long-lasting negative effect. This can include the things that often first come to mind when the word trauma is mentioned, such as war, natural disaster, physical abuse, rape, and car accidents. It also can mean the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, witnessing a traumatic or catastrophic event, or experiencing serious illness – experiences that make us feel unsafe, unloved, or without control or hope.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy that was developed to help desensitize and reprocess painful or traumatic memories. When a traumatic event occurs, it sometimes gets “locked” in the nervous system with the original images, sounds, feelings, and thoughts. Whenever a reminder of the event comes up, the experiences and associated with the event can be triggered, almost as if the person is re-experiencing the event.

What to expect in therapy

Trauma Therapy: Woman SunflowerEMDR is an 8-phase treatment method that uses bilateral stimulation, through eye movements, tactile stimulation or audio tones to help “unlock” the nervous system and allow the brain to process and heal from the traumatic experience.

The treatment time could last from just a few sessions to several months or years of therapy depending on the severity of the impact of the trauma.

EMDR has been extensively researched and shown to be an effective form of trauma treatment by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the Department of Defense. For more information, please visit or