What is EMDR Therapy? Mental Health w Kati Morton | Kati Morton

Today we’re talking, drumroll please, about EMDR Therapy. What is it and why do we use it? *Intro Music* So, what is EMDR? Well, EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. I know that that’s a mouthful, but it honestly is very descriptive as to what EMDR is, And we’ll get into it, and I’ll explain exactly how it works to the best of my ability. But I want you all to know that I’ve done a significant amount of research on this. I’ve actually spent time with three different clinicians who do EMDR. I am not trained in EMDR, and I do not practice it myself, But I have found it to be very helpful for many of my clients struggling with processing through a trauma. Now the basics of EMDR are that it is short term. There is no set number of sessions that you need to have, but they say that it’s not like a year long process. It all depends on your level of traumatization, how able you are to stay present, because dissociation is very common, If you want more on dissociation click over here. I’ve done a video on that. But if dissociation is very common for you, it may take you a little longer, because the whole point of EMDR is for you to be able to stay present in your body while they work on desensitizing and reprocessing the traumas. An interesting part of EMDR, and many of the clinicians that I talked with spoke about this. Is how important REM sleep is in our brain’s ability to process through our day. That’s actually why sleep is so important. I know I’ve talked about that before in the video where I got a new mattress, I talked about the importance of sleep and what that does for us. But REM sleep, if you aren’t aware is Rapid Eye Movement. So it means that our eyes are (whirring sounds) and by them going left to right our brain is actually processing through what’s happened that day. And that they think explains why dreams are so random, because there are certain things that happen that weren’t important in our day and other things that were. And things that maybe happened that we haven’t had time to process. So maybe when we have that one long night of sleep, we’re able to go through more than normal. There are a lot of factors in it. But they talk about how REM sleep is the reason the EMDR works. Because REM while our eyes are moving back and forth, and that’s involuntary, our brain is processing our day. EMDR is creating that in session, in order for you to go back to those traumatizing experiences, and let your brain take the time to actually process through it. Now there are many ways that they can do what they call bilateral stimulation. Meaning like left to right, so that we are in essence simulating the left to right eye movement that we have during REM sleep. Some of the people that I talked with always have people follow their hand or fingers. And they will do this during session. Others have what we call tappers, which are little they’re connected with a cord and they buzz. Buzz left to right. There are also headphones we can put in, which make sounds. Either beeps or little bings in left to right ears. Anything to stimulate the left to right sensation. Other people sometimes do like tapping on their arms. There are a lot of different ways that we can get that bilateral stimulation that is key to EMDR working Much of the research about EMDR proves it to be just as effective as CBT in the treatment of traumas. But there is a lot of chatter in the psychological community about this. Some people completely disagree with it, saying that it doesn’t do anything. Others saying it’s like magic. It helps patients so much. I would just encourage you to talk with your clinician, if it’s something that you’re interested in trying, try it. I have a friend, Paul Gilmartin, who’s been on my videos who’s done EMDR, and he said that it was key to his recovery. It wasn’t this huge part of his treatment, but it was a short-term treatment that he did in addition to his regular talk therapy that really helped him process through what he had been through as a child. And so I also have many clients do really really well with it. And I just, I like it. I’m on board with it. I know other clinicians may disagree, and that is fine. But if it’s something you’re considering, I hope that this video at least gives you can idea of what to expect, so that you are able to get the treatment that you need and deserve as you work through your traumas. Now to get into EMDR a little bit more, I’m going to talk about the 8 phases. And the clinicians that I spoke with say that sometimes you go straight through them exactly as the phases go. Sometimes you have to go back. Some phases take longer than others. And so I’m just going to briefly tell you what they are. And I will link in the description more information on this, if you want to read about each of the phases. But just know that it’s really your clinicians discretion as they’re working with you. And how long they take in each of these, and may be going back and forth between them as needed for you and your process. So the first phase is history and treatment planning. That’s like what are we going to do. Where have you come from? What are you working on? The second is preparation. Letting you prepare for the actual EMDR. Helping you calm yourself down and be present, stay in your body. Three is assessment. Four is desensitization. Five is installation. Six is body scan. Seven is closure. And eight is re-evaluation. Now I didn’t want to go into too much detail. I’ll tell you overall what my experience has been talking with people and seeing it done with clients. EMDR helps you internalize, and I think the word they use, installation, positive cognitions around a negative trauma. So let’s say we had, we were physically abused as a child. They will take you back to that time and have you maybe alter the image or the scenario that plays out. Maybe the flashback. Have you try to slow it down, speed it up. Make it black and white. They’ll have you try to change it, and they’ll have you try to bring in some positive cognitions. Maybe it’s your best friend. Maybe it’s your dog. Maybe it’s your husband. Maybe it’s you know a joke, a person who always tells great jokes and makes you laugh. You bring in certain things to the room within that flashback, so that you’re in control And you have support in that scenario. Like changing that scenario for yourself. And that’s a huge part of EMDR, is being able to bring resources into the trauma. And knowing that you’re in control of it and helping you process through it. And not feel so helpless, because often what we find happens in PTSD and C-PTSD symptomology is that we feel helpless and instead of fight-or-flight, we froze. And so part of the treatment of EMDR is letting us know that we have control. We have the ability to bring people in. We have the ability to leave, maybe. And they’ll have you work out different scenarios that feel right for you, so that you feel more in control of that scenario. It doesn’t feel like it keeps happening over and over, which is kind of what flashbacks do. They can re traumatize us, so they try to help you get control of that, and process through it. So in conclusion I just hope that if EMDR is something that your therapist is talking to you about, that you consider it. It doesn’t mean that it is going to cure everything. It doesn’t mean that in three sessions, poof, you’ll feel better and nothing will ever bother you again. But I do think that EMDR is a resource. It’s something that I’ve seen help many of my clients. It’s something that many of you have reported has helped you, and so I would encourage you to look into it. To talk more in depth. To maybe make an appointment with an EMDR specialist and check it out. If you go, and you don’t like it or it makes you feel uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean you have to continue. Just like finding a regular therapist, it’s important that you feel comfortable with your EMDR therapist. It’s even, honestly, I would say is even more important, because essentially they’re going to take you back to those really really nasty tricky traumatizing times. And they’re going to help you reprocess it and be able to stay present and calm yourself. And so you need to feel calm and relaxed in their office. And you need to really have a good feeling about them and feel like you can trust them with this process. I hope you found this helpful. Please leave your thoughts and experiences on EMDR in the comments. It’s so helpful that we get to share that. And please share the video. We never know who is contemplating this, who’s struggling. You never know who it’s gonna help. And if you’re new to my channel and you haven’t subscribed, why is that? Click over here to subscribe. I put out videos all the time, and you don’t want to miss them. And I’ll see you next time.


  1. Excellent explanation thank you. I am about to complete 16 EMDR sessions for PTSD, numerous Road traffic Accidents,childhood abuse , violence and long term health issues and am amazed and grateful on how effective this process has been. I feel safer,more outgoing and sociable,trusting and able to feel peace with everything.

  2. Hi Kati and all. Today I was approached by my therapist to try EMDR with him as apart of our therapy. I heard of EMDR of a few years ago when I lived in Philadelphia. Since I was just starting out in the therapy world and never heard of EMDR, I ran away from the therapist that suggested it. However, now I am a little older and less freaked, I am still a little creeped out though. He thinks it would help me in some of the trauma I have had in my life. I trust his instincts and his expertise, however, I am a bit apprehensive about it. Any advice you can help me with would be appreciated. Thanks and have a great day.

  3. I’ve tried EMDR very basically when I’ve got a worry or conflict situation going over & over in my head. I have found that following my finger side to side helps me put the brakes on my runaway thinking. I talk through the issue and tell myself I’m allowed to let it go. Or if it’s ‘lie’ type anxiety I tell myself it’s not true as I follow my finger.
    It’s worked really well. It seems to take the sting out of the thoughts.

  4. Because you have to go back to nasty things it's not a comfy thing to do, but that's not a reason to stop. It's not a theeparty. But a good therapist will bring you back to your safe place and get you grounded. It's not a very long process to go through. So in a way it's easier than talking about your problem all the time.

  5. I had this a while ago and I agree it was very helpful for me! My therapist had a light bar where the light traced from left to right that I followed with my eyes while we were talking. She suggested while mediating (something I already did) or first getting into bed, to close my eyes and slowly "look" left to right for a minute and be aware of breathing. I had 4 sessions with the EMDR light bar during a 6 week block. Very short but it was great for me. 😊

  6. My therapist just diagnosed me with EMDR and I can't read so your video help me out a lot thank you

  7. EMDR is not always short-term. When working with complex trauma it can take a while to re-integrate all the parts of the self that have been split of due to adverse life experiences and developmental trauma. The main theory now is that the eye movements occupy the short term memory allowing the brain to process traumatic events without defending against dysregulation. See the work or Ad de jongh etc.

  8. I did EMDR for childhood issues/bad memories that were giving me panic attacks when dealing with my family. It felt silly at the time, but after I did notice that the memories didn't have that Visceral gut churning, punch in the stomach feeling and I was able to to stand up for myself and remove myself from a bad situation which had previously not been possible.

    I do feel like these memories have been peacefully reintegrated, but it did take quite a lot of sessions to do that and it didn't correct my behaviours and habits that might have come from my past experiences.

  9. I met with a therapist a couple days ago for the first time to get help for my eating issues. She's referred me to the eating disorder specialist that they have on staff there and said that EMDR could be very beneficial to me. So I'm trying to find out what to expect and I'm honestly excited and nervous after watching this video.

  10. I have extreme acrophobia which really impacts my quality of life. It's getting worst, to the point where I can't even ride an escalator when Im stressed out. I'm not sure what caused it, do you think EMDR could help?

  11. It worked for me when I had about a dozen sessions around 2000. I had multiple traumas from age 5 to 8 including being with my parents when they found a guy who committed suicide,, and a cow trying to trample me at age 7.

  12. Hey guys i only recently found this channel (which I love btw), after my current therapist suggested trying EMDR next week with her and she told me to do some research. I am open to the concept of anything that might be helpful, but would be lying if I said it didn't make me anxious. I am wondering if it is something that is till a possibility when i am emotionally detached from all my trauma consciously? I do have a physical tensing to flashbacks, but I am concerned I won't be able to focus or will just not have anything pop up and it will be ineffective. Has anyone else experienced this and still had success from EMDR?







  14. Thank you for all the time, energy, effort, and information! I appreciate it and your videos always help me!

  15. I am currently using EMDR, and personally, I am a believer. The emotional charge that those memories have has been significantly reduced, after only two sessions. If you're considering it, go for it! It's rough but worth it.

  16. I'm starting this today because I was raped and developed depression and agorophobia from it and I'm like,, nervous lol

  17. My therapist is wanting to try this with me. The thing is though, I have repressed a lot (a LOT) of my memories as a child and idk what all has traumatized me. I just don’t recall. I mean, there are a few that I know of for sure, be it a memory or a family member telling me about it, and some more recent and small things. Basically what I’m tryna ask is does this treatment bring back those memories ??

  18. Can this help me with my cptsd and depersonalization.. I'm scared cuz I might remember things that I forgot that were worse than the traumas I remember

  19. Someone was telling me about this today – does it have to be about a specific event, or does it work for childhood emotional neglect?

  20. Kati, I love your videos. I hope you can answer this. I'm sure you get a lot of questions. How is EMDR different from hypnosis? It sounds kind of similar.

  21. I don't know if this has been answered yet but I have suffered from cptsd for most of my life but I don't remember the things I experienced as a kid because of dissociations and depersonalisation. how could those memories be brought back to be worked on? I'm very interested in emdr and curious

  22. I got the idea before that EMDR was this really flakey thing. My previous therapist suggested this to me as something that might be able to help me. She never explained it quite as good as you did here, and she tried it on me once (for a few minutes!) and then decided it wouldn't help me. I remember having a hard time focusing in part because it all seemed so weird, and I didn't get exactly what I was supposed to think about either. It was just messy. :p

  23. After a childhood with daily abuse on all levels from 2 high ranking Marine Corp./Vietnam Vet parents and an extremely abusive brother (who tried to kill me 3 separate times) at age 42 I received this therapy and it really worked wonders for reprogramming my brain. Made it so..I'm..not looking over my shoulder all of the time and I can actually be mindful.present. I highly recommend it.

  24. I am about to try this therapy i think it will help for one event in a persons life but my concern is that when there are so much abuse and truma that when all of is comes flooding out and my head starts spinning because it's so over whelming . I thing this is great for rape and like things that were like out of no were and like truma but not long term abuse not for people that were abused for days and years like my self because to say one thing one moment one person one event . Your right not for everyone i think this would be wonderful for some people but not for me and this video just helped me realized what i want to get out of my EMDR therapy. Not for my childhood abuse but My Rape My Kidnapping my …….. the 4 days of my life that I am survivor not a victim any more thank you Katie!!!!!!!

  25. I start EMDR soon. Mine will be handled slightly different. My therapist said I never disassociate. She seemed amazed not sure if that means anything.

  26. I have had a great experience with emdr so far. I'm very grateful for the option. My provider has me go into the emotion of the memory. if it's anger, we have to go deeper for what preceded the anger. hold onto it as long as I can while watching the lights. it can be very very difficult to hold onto the emotion as the lights have an almost hypnotic soothing effect – but the longer I have been able to hold onto the negative emotion while watching the lights, the more emotion will come out and then it's gone. I have had two areas of trauma that we have completed, and there is no more negative emotion associated with the memories. those areas just feel "light". How well it works has been very surprising.

  27. I find it would be very helpful to stress the copious amount of evidence based research supporting its validity and efficacy. This is not some hokey unresearched therapy option.

  28. After reading the comments….I think my only option is old fashioned lobotomy! Trying to make myself laugh here…;) Have cptsd and nothing works. Not dead yet! ♡

  29. I would never recommend this to anyone just saying from my personal experience it was horrible my dad is dead and gone from cancer since 2004 I would have been way better off not remembering what happened when I went to this therapy in 2013 because it almost had me killing myself that's my experience with it and if I could go back in time and take it back I would I think I would be a white much more and healthier and happier at peace person if I would not have come to this therapy

  30. I'm kind of thinking from all the comments in whatever that I've descried through that I had a really shady therapist and I'm kind of pisse now but whatever it is what it is but no I would not recommend this to anyone sings the fact that almost killed myself and 2013 in here I am in 2019 alive and well I'm about to be 46 years old and I would rather not of been given the opportunity to you relive that tromma that I blocked out and I'm just being honest

  31. Intriguing, Kati… was not aware of this; I use to provide Therapy…but never used that!! Please come over to my channel.

  32. I was looking for an actual description of what EMDR was and how it works. This was a very good explanation of it, thank you so much!

  33. I just want to say this therapy has worked and helped me. My therapist made sure I was comfortable with them first and we did talk therapy beforehand for some time. I think its worth a try if you think it would help if you have ptsd or cptsd

  34. I am just starting emdr thursday and don't know what is going to happen. Any advice for self care, relaxation etc.. Thanks. It would be much appreciated.

  35. I just don’t get it because when I did emdr she didn’t give me any techniques or anything like that. She didn’t give me a safe place. She just said to think about “the traumatic thing” and then asked “what do you notice?” Every 30 seconds. I was just making things up the whole time.. it was kinda annoying

  36. So I'm considering this, but at the same time I've been working with myself to recognize and come back. My recent flash backs come from finding my mother's body, so in my bedroom I have worked my way through game of thrones. Dissociating left and right but as an exercise of thanking my body for protecting me but remembering that I'm safe now. I'm crocheting as well to keep concentration when I would zone out before.

  37. Had my first EMDR session today. It was incredibly revealing and brought forward a lot of subconscious issues that I did not know were affecting me. I feel very positive for the future and what EMDR is capable in doing to alleviate my anxiety and PTSD. PLEASE do not discount this practice! It works!

  38. I'm doing this right now and it's interesting to understand a bit more about what I'm doing. Thanks for explaining!!
    I've had a few sessions now, and I feel like I'm starting to be more aware of my feelings and what I can do to change things. I've actually now decided to change my name, and so now going by "Alice". All of my friends have been really supportive but my family, as always, with the exception of one or two people are very negative about it. I'm trying to learn to deal with these feelings more and I hope that EMDR will help me along the way.

  39. Thank you for your engaging explanation. I was sent this by Clinical Psychologist Chris Hayes who's going to help me with Complex Trauma and PTSD. I am scared but will face my fears 🤗💕

  40. So helpful. I've used EMDR and it was absolutely a game-changer. My therapist used the tappers and we still use them from time to time to process other components of the residual effects of the trauma like anxiety in dating. It's been hugely helpful and definitely agree that it's worth trying. It took me about four months to go through all the sessions, and at one point it got to be too intense that I had to stop the therapy and do some more talk therapy before we tried it again.

  41. My therapist mentioned this to me last week, I'm doing the research on it and have discovered the dissociation part of my bpd. I haven't even talked to a specialist yet and I'm scared to death about it. I'm sitting here crying my eyes out I'm so scared.

  42. It worked for me, no talk therapy or visualizing done, just finger & eye movement, now my brain is processing it, not re playing

  43. I start EMDR this week. It's a little scary of the unknown but I trust my therapist. We shall see.

  44. I did one EMDR session with my therapist and after I left the session I felt some weight lifted off my shoulders. It truly allowed me to be open and make my inner self feel better, and in control. I would like to try it again to continue processing other traumatic moments in my life.

  45. I was diagnosed with PTSD and they recommend EMDR. It helped SO much. My father was killed in a small plane accident when I was 14. The plane was missing for 6 months. At 14 (40 years ago!) the worst period of my life. I never dealt with it. Fast forward to a just a few years ago. Something traumatic triggered me. Anyhow, during the first session, I was holding the tappers, one in each hand. As they started alternately buzzing in my hands , I looked down to the space between my fists. Then something a little freaky happened. I saw smoke emanating from each of my closed fists. In the space between my fistsw I saw an oscillating globe like shape with a funnel coming up to to top and then an upside down funnel inside the globe. I researched and what I saw is called a Torus or a Toroid. A torus is basically a form of sacred geometry that is used to describe the self-reflective nature of consciousness. I asked my therapist what the heck happened. She just turned it around in a matter of fact way and asked me what I thought it was. Well first, it was a hallucination (likely from the brain stimulation) and that it looked like “energy”. That was the only way to describe it. My psychiatrist acted like it was no big deal and just said that I was under stress. You think he’d be dolling out an antipsychotic. Anyhow it only happened that one time. I was hoping It would happen again because it was amazing. I did call the institute that trains therapists in EMDR to ask if this has happened before. She said she had never heard of it before. Anyhow, I wonder sometimes if anyone else had this experience.

  46. I want to try this. I think it could really help me get through some emotional trauma that I have experienced .

  47. Thank you for your excellent video. I am about to use this therapy and this helped to explain the process. I am working with medical trauma from childhood because I must have a surgery in the next month.
    Complete random question. Is that "The Fool" card tucked in the mirror behind you?

  48. I’ve had EDMR therapy for some trauma i experienced in my teenage years and I’m one of the people that call it “magical”! I think it will only work if you go into it willing to give it an honest try. I was in a desperate place, so I was very willing and it worked within one session. It’s very intense in the moment, your body reacts with anxiety to the trauma very strongly, but if you have a good therapist, they’ll direct you well and tell you to focus on the right thoughts and it will get better almost in one round. It does make you feel exhausted afterwards. But one good thing I’ve found was that before the treatment I was having nightmares where people I loved‘s faces would turn into my abusers and they would start to hurt me. I started having very different dreams after just one session of EDMR where I would feel strong amounts of love for these people and we would just have very loving and positive interactions in my dreams. No faces morphing into abusers, just love and peace! ❤️

    I think people who aren’t on board simply haven’t given it an honest chance or actually listened to how it’s helped people. Even my therapist told me she thought she got hijinked when she took the training to get certified for it, but she gave it an honest try with her clients and that’s when she really believed it worked because she saw huge changes in the first couple sessions with people who carried very heavy mental baggage from their past!

  49. Me and my therapist tried to do EMDR. For some reason, it made me highly uncomfortable and I know my therapist wants me to continue doing it but I just can't seem to

  50. I had my first EMDR session last week, and shed more tears in that 1 session that the last 5 years of therapy with other clinicians. My stress and anxiety levels for the next few days dropped, I think this is going to be the therapeutic method I've been needing for half of my life. PTSD is a horrific nightmare both literally and metaphorically. I'm really glad I found this great therapist, he's the PTSD clinician of choice for our emergency services I believe, & I see exactly why now.

  51. Hi Kati: Thanks for your thoughtful review of EMDR! I love that you went through the 8 stages, and didn't focus only on the eye movements because it is a comprehensive therapy technique! I love using it with my clients because of the improvements I see – it is highly, highly effective for panic attacks, PTSD, recent traumatic events and a number of other things. I've posted a video on "How Does EMDR Work | And Can It Help Me?" which I think will also help people figure out if they should try it!

  52. I was researching EMDR Trauma Therapy since a friend will be starting it in two weeks and she is a little apprehensive about it, but wants it. I have read a lot and watched several videos before I came across your video. I love how you delivered the information to everyone so we can understand! And you are always nice and enthusiastic, yet compassionate at the same time. Thank you!

    I am sending your link to my friend. She watched a few YouTube videos on EMDR and it scared her. (She is getting the EMDR with Light Bar Therapy.) Right now, everything scares her. I think your video will provide some comfort to her.

    I have never subscribed to a YouTube channel before and I just subscribed to yours. I pray for your continued success!

    Numbers 6:24-26

    May The LORD bless you and protect you.
    May The LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
    May The LORD show you His favor and give you His peace.

  53. I only just started therapy after years of ignoring the possibility of having PTSD. My therapist gave me a pamphlet on EMDR but it's really wordy and hard to understand so here I am! I've seen a few videos and articles on it, most of it seems pretty positive and at the very least harmless. This was a great video and I think I'll go ahead and try it, she really wants me to so… after this I feel a bit better with going that direction.
    I'll let you know how it went!

  54. I had EMDR therapy. It was really great for me. I ended up having disassociation and we had to keep me in the moment to be able to process my trauma, but it did work really well for me. I know it's supposed to be short term, but my therapy was over a year because I had a complicated trauma.

  55. I’m a very skeptical person so when my psychologist suggested EMDR I was hesitant but I trusted him and tried it. It worked wonders for my body image issues, eating disorder & overall self esteem (concerning my appearance). We used the tappers & long story short over many months I was able to reshape the way I thought people thought about me! I was basically constantly worried others were judging me. “What a (insert word) fatty, slob, loser, freak etc” He with the help of EMDR helped me see that just because I am hyper aware of my surroundings & others appearances doesn’t mean everyone else is. As painful as it was I also had to admit that I wasn’t ugly. I wasn’t fat. They were just lies I told myself. Now I’m just trying to work on my “inner self esteem” which is incredibly low. If only it didn’t seem so daunting. 😕 But Yes EMDR was a great tool for me for many issues & VERY relaxing. 👍🏻

  56. I did EMDR for 4 months, twice a week. My therapist and I broke down my trauma's by person and then covered one then the next and went from bad to worse. We joked about how out of all of them my mom took the longest. It took 1 session for my dad and 2 weeks for my mom lol!

  57. If I started to get very panicked or distraught in therapy my therapist would give me the little vibrating emdr things and have me take some deep breaths and it always calmed me down and helped my speak about what I needed to again.

  58. I've had EMDR treatment in the past, but I recently found a much more powerful way of using it. I would totally recommend anyone to explore EMDR. It can be used in positive, life affirming ways other than merely therapeutic ones.

  59. Thank you for explaining this style of therapy, It makes sense to me… I feel more empowered about this now that I have an understanding of how it works.

  60. I know a lady that says it got her through her severe trauma and she did quit drinking alcohol and partying which I think she typically did because of her trauma. She seems like a totally different and well adjusted person now. So who knows. I think Im going to suggest my brother does it.

  61. Kati, I subscribe and watch your videos weekly. I recently started brainspotting treatment for the trauma of my child's suicide. I get a lot of information out of your videos and I would like to request a video on the topic of brainspotting. Thank you for everything you do. 💙💜💙💜💙💜

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