If you’re struggling due to trauma you’ve experienced in the past, and are seeking a mental health professional to help with this issue, an EMDR therapist can enable you to overcome these traumatic events.
In this article, we’ve explained how to find an EMDR therapist near you or online, to help you overcome the trauma that you’ve experienced.
Want to skip right to the suggestions for EMDR therapists? Here are our 2 recommended therapy solutions:
EMDR therapists near me
Here are two websites you can use to access an eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapist, to help you improve your mental health.
BetterHelp is an online counseling service that connects people with qualified mental health professionals, including EMDR therapists.
You can join BetterHelp by answering a few questions about yourself. The platform will ask about your age, where you live, and what you’re looking for in a therapist. A few questions about your symptoms will be asked as well, and then you will be able to explain the type of help you’re looking for. At this stage, you can explain that you’re seeking an EMDR therapist, and you can also describe the trauma symptoms that you’re looking to overcome.
After submitting the questionnaire, BetterHelp will select the best EMDR therapist for you, and guide your therapist to personalize your sessions based on your symptoms. Then, you can schedule a therapy session with them, and begin getting help.
To communicate with your therapist, you can choose from live chat sessions, phone calls, or video sessions. Typically, with BetterHelp EMDR therapy, you will have a video call with your counselor each week. You can schedule this video call at a time that works for you, including outside of business hours, or on weekends, if you’d prefer.
In between sessions, you can text message your therapist at any time to get additional help. This can be particularly helpful if you experience flashbacks or other trauma symptoms during the week, and would like immediate assistance, rather than having to wait until the next scheduled therapy session to get help.
Another good thing about BetterHelp is their pricing – because they only provide online therapy, BetterHelp is relatively inexpensive. You can get help for about $60-$90 per week, and there are further discounts available for those on low incomes, as well as certain socioeconomic groups, such as veterans. However, unlike in-person EMDR therapy, BetterHelp isn’t covered by most US health insurance plans.
2. EMDR Therapist Directory
The EMDR Therapist Directory is a service that helps you find EMDR therapists in your area. This website is run by the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) as a service to members of the general public in the United States, Canada, and other countries.
The directory allows you to search for EMDR therapy specialists based on their location, specialty, and other parameters.
This directory is a great resource, in large part due to its filtering options. By default, it has many therapists’ profiles listed, but as you start filtering, you can find the right therapist for your specific needs.
For example, you might like to only show therapists near you who specialize in helping with abuse/neglect, or PTSD. You can also filter to show therapists who provide online therapy sessions.
For each therapist, there is detailed information about their qualifications and treatment methods on their profile. In addition, you can contact each therapist directly through the directory, and view their website, if they have one.
The only downside to this website is there aren’t a huge number of therapists listed – in some cities, it can be hard to find a local therapist. Also, although there is plenty of useful information listed on each therapist’s profile, such as the insurance networks they work with, this information is a bit inconsistent – some therapists don’t have a lot of information available about their services.
What is EMDR therapy?
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a type of treatment that can help you recover from psychological traumas and mental health conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, sleeping disorders, and depression, among others. Research has shown that through EMDR therapy, people can experience benefits that would have taken years to accomplish with conventional psychotherapy.
The memories of past traumas can be hard to remove or erase because they are stored in our deep subconscious. An EMDR therapist helps you process and modify the physical manifestations of these memories. Once these memories’ physical or somatic manifestations are modified, you may begin to feel in control again, even if you still remember the traumatic event.
Basic principles of EMDR therapy
When you face mental trauma or psychological stress, the memories of these incidents get stored in your mind. These memories can return to our consciousness, such as in the form of flashbacks or nightmares.
Subsequently, these flashbacks can cause severe distress when they return to our conscious thoughts.
Since these memories cannot be erased, the practice of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing can change the way they are stored in the brain, making them easier to handle.
How does EMDR therapy work?
EMDR therapy comprises eight phases, each of which has a specific purpose and specific benefits.
Phase I: Treatment planning
In this phase, you will discuss your problem with the therapist, especially what brought you to seek therapy, and what you are looking to achieve with EMDR.
Your therapist may review your symptoms and problems, ask you about the history of your issue, and then develop a treatment plan that will work best for you.
Phase II: Preparation
In this phase, you and your therapist work together to prepare techniques to cope with stressful situations, and deal with the things that emotionally agitate you.
Phase III: Assessment
In the third phase of EMDR, your therapist identifies the target events that trigger unwanted beliefs, distressing thoughts/feelings, and painful emotions.
Phase IV: Desensitization
This phase involves making specific eye movements, tapping your hands, listening to audio tones, or viewing blinking lights. This is known as bilateral stimulation (BLS).
After being exposed to these stimuli, with help from your EMDR therapist, you’ll allow your mind to wander, and pay attention to any naturally occurring thoughts or feelings that you encounter. Your therapist may have you reflect on a specific memory, or move on to another if that memory no longer provokes unwanted feelings that you need to overcome.
Phase V: Installation
After the desensitization process has been completed, you can begin to develop and reinforce a positive belief pertaining to the target event, until it feels completely true. This is what the fifth stage of EMDR therapy aims to achieve.
Phase VI: Body scan
In this phase, your therapist will inquire whether the targeted memory still causes any unpleasant physical discomfort or sensations. If this is the case, your therapist will take you through another round of BLS, as occurred in step four.
Phase VII: Closure
In this phase, your therapist will review your progress after each session and suggest relaxation methods and other coping skills to help you maintain and reinforce the progress that you have made.
Phase VIII: Re-evaluation
At this point, your therapist may inquire about the memories and feelings you discussed in prior therapy sessions.
If these memories still disturb you, you may continue to target them through further desensitization, installation, and body scans.
What can you expect from EMDR therapy?
During EMDR therapy, you and your therapist will go through different phases of EMDR to promote and preserve your mental health.
A bad perception, belief, emotion, or body experience associated with past trauma will be examined, until you have overcome the issues that this incident is causing in your life.
An EMDR therapy session typically lasts 60-90 minutes – if bilateral stimulation is overwhelming, your therapist may choose to conduct shorter therapy sessions, to make the process easier for you.
A therapist may use EMDR therapy in conjunction with another type of therapy or as a standalone treatment, depending on the range of symptoms that you display.
Who can benefit from EMDR therapy?
Adults and children of various ages benefit from EMDR therapy. This type of treatment is used by therapists to manage a variety of issues, such as:
- Depression and related subtypes
- PTSD and other trauma and stress-related issues
- Grief and loss
- Stress and anxiety
- Low self-esteem and self-confidence
- Sleeping disorders
- Relationship issues (especially to do with trauma, such as a difficult breakup)
How does EMDR therapy differ from other types of therapy?
The main focus of EMDR therapy is the modification of recurring thoughts and feelings that are affecting your mental health. For this purpose, EMDR therapy helps you access and process painful memories or psychological traumas that exist deep in your subconscious, by exposing you to visual and auditory stimuli, and with hand/eye movements.
However, other common types of therapy work in different ways. For example:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps you resolve your mental health issues and modify negative behaviors by talking with a therapist. For those who have experienced significant trauma, talking about your experience can be very difficult. This is why EMDR is considered more effective than CBT in managing post-traumatic disorders.
- Counseling involves open-ended talking sessions where you can share your inner thoughts, releasing stress and anxiety, and overcoming depression. Thus, it is less focused on a specific memory or trauma, as compared to EMDR.
Effectiveness of online EMDR therapy
A 2021 study polled 33 EMDR therapists who provided information on 93 adult, child, and adolescent treatment clients who had received EMDR online. According to the findings, EMDR delivered via the internet is effective in alleviating mental health problems.
Therefore, you can achieve good results using online EMDR therapy. However, what matters most is accessing the type of therapy that you would feel most comfortable with. If you’d prefer to speak with a therapist in-person, and would feel more comfortable in doing so, it would be best to find an EMDR therapist that you can see face-to-face, if possible.
Advantages of EMDR
EMDR is a powerful type of therapy that has helped significant numbers of people to overcome the consequences of trauma. The focus of this eight-stage approach is on the patient’s ideas about their past, present, and future, as well as the bad events that have affected them.
There are a number of specific benefits of using EMDR therapy.
Broadens your mindset, and helps to overcome negative self-talk
Many of us have self-limiting views based on negative events from our past. Similarly, we may become introverted in expressing our thoughts because of traumatic events in the past. A belief that you need to be perfect for example may even be connected back to past experiences, such as a traumatic breakup.
EMDR therapy helps to de-emphasize negative beliefs you might hold, by demonstrating that they are just one interpretation of an event and that there are other, more valid, and more positive interpretations possible.
Helps you to recover from psychological trauma
EMDR is often incredibly successful at processing different types of mental trauma, so psychologists often prescribe EMDR therapy to patients suffering from many different types of psychological trauma. Depression, anxiety, nightmares, loss, divorce, bullying, abuse, and various other life traumas have all been demonstrated to be treatable with the help of EMDR.
Allows for constant self-improvement
EMDR therapy is not only beneficial to those who are suffering from symptomatic mental illnesses. It can also be helpful more generally, as it can alter negative beliefs, improve your confidence, job satisfaction, imagination, physical health, and other aspects of your life. Using EMDR, you can unlock your full potential, by reducing your negative inner thoughts.
EMDR therapy can be highly beneficial if you are struggling with mental health concerns developed due to past psychological trauma. You may become more creative and productive in your life if your mind is devoid of any bad beliefs, thoughts, or events from your past. EMDR can help you to live a happier and fuller life without past traumatic events clouding your mind.
BetterHelp is an online platform where you can get help from experienced and certified EMDR therapists over the internet. On the other hand, if you want to locate an EMDR therapist for in-person sessions directly, the EMDR Therapist Directory can help you to find the closest EMDR therapist to where you live.