How Long Does EMDR Therapy Take to Work?

EMDR, short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is an innovative therapy technique. Primarily used for individuals grappling with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s transformed many lives. As you wade through mental health treatment options, understanding the time and effectiveness of therapies like EMDR is essential. Hence, we address: How long does EMDR therapy take to work?

The Roots of EMDR

Before diving into the duration, let’s shed light on its origins:

  • Developed in the late 1980s by Dr. Francine Shapiro.
  • Aims to allow individuals to process distressing memories more naturally.
  • Uses bilateral stimulation, often in the form of eye movements.

The Step-by-Step EMDR Process

To appreciate the therapy’s duration, understanding its phases is vital:

  • Phase 1: History-taking to understand the trauma and treatment planning.
  • Phase 2: Preparation involves the therapist equipping the client with coping mechanisms.
  • Phase 3-6: Assessment of traumatic memories, desensitization, installation of positive beliefs, and a body scan.
  • Phase 7: Closure to ensure the client’s stable state.
  • Phase 8: Re-evaluation ensures the traumatic memory is adequately processed.

When to Anticipate Results?

EMDR therapy isn’t one-size-fits-all. Results can be summarized as:

  • Immediate relief can be seen in a few sessions for single traumatic events.
  • For multifaceted trauma like prolonged abuse, treatment might stretch to several months or even longer.
  • Weekly sessions are recommended for consistent and tangible progress.

Factors That Play a Role in EMDR’s Duration

The therapy isn’t solely about eye movements; many factors influence its span:

  • Nature and Duration of Trauma: Longer, more complex traumas might require extended sessions.
  • Personal Resilience and Coping Mechanisms: These can speed up or lengthen the therapy.
  • Client’s Dedication: Being proactive, attending sessions, and working on assigned tasks are crucial.
  • Quality of Therapist-Client Relationship: Trust and understanding between the two can significantly influence outcomes.

Complementary Therapies to EMDR

EMDR is powerful, but when combined with other therapies, it can work wonders:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps in restructuring harmful thought patterns.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Aids in grounding and centering the individual.
  • Talk Therapy: Provides an outlet for emotions and insights.

A Message to Our Readers

For anyone reading this, feeling anxious or overwhelmed about starting therapy is okay. Remember, healing is a journey. It’s not merely about ‘how long,’ but about ‘how profound and lasting.’ With EMDR, the emphasis is on lasting relief.

Call 12 South Recovery Today!

Are traumas from the past holding you back? EMDR therapy at 12 South Recovery in Lake Forest, CA, might be the answer. Our seasoned therapists are eager to guide you on the road to healing. Embark on your therapeutic journey today!


Dr. Francine Shapiro developed EMDR in the late 1980s.

The number of sessions varies based on individual needs and the trauma’s complexity.

EMDR boasts high success rates, but it’s essential to consult a therapist to gauge its suitability for you.

Therapies like CBT, mindfulness, and traditional talk therapy often complement EMDR.

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