Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy Rochester NY

Weaken negative emotions through reprocessing memories

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Develop positive behaviors to combat past experiences

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is an effective therapy for individuals that have some type of event in their past that they are “stuck” on. EMDR is typically not the first session for an individual in therapy, but is recommended after a 1-2 sessions when it is clear to a therapist there’s some trauma or past history that’s distressing to a client and needs to be worked out. EMDR helps you remember those memories, recall details, and reframe those experiences into something more positive, helping you move forward in life rather than hold you back.

What to expect from EMDR Therapy

Ensuring EMDR is a good fit for a client

Before moving forward, one of the most important things I do is make sure someone is capable of handling EMDR therapy.

A person needs to have a stable life, both mentally and physically, have decent housing, aren’t struggling to put food on their table, etc…  Essentially, all of their basic needs are met. We make sure clients are able to tolerate the mental stress and regulate their own emotions as EMDR will bring up difficult memories.

While these seem like normal things, if you do not have them, you’re living in a completely different state of mind and EMDR might cause more harm than good. 

I make sure any client is ready before moving forward with EMDR.

Session duration and number of EMDR therapy sessions

An EMDR session is typically 60 minutes with 40-50 minutes of the session being focused on processing one memory while the final 10-20 minutes is “bringing you back” and  making sure we “close the loop” on the memory prior to you leaving the office. The timing of it all depends on the person and what you’re capable of handling.

I will note that NOT “closing a person down” properly could leave someone distressed after they leave the office. That’s unacceptable by our standards, but is the most common reason people have bad experiences with EMDR. 

Frequency of sessions for most clients is once every week, once every two weeks, or once a month. It really depends on your schedule and what we decide works best for you. 

The total number of EMDR sessions depends on your “trauma list.” If you have a long list of traumas you need to work through, then that’s obviously going to take longer. Typically in an EMDR session, we’re trying to process one memory at a time.  There are times when a memory takes more time and more than one session, or rarely we can work through multiple memories in one session. 

It depends and it’s very individualized per client.

Performing EMDR, your thoughts, emotions and "processing"

The EMDR therapy process is about taking a memory that you have, taking the negative feeling you have about it on a scale from 0-10 and bringing that down to zero, meaning no distress. How we do that is the following: 

  1. We take a trauma memory and have you think about it. 

  1. During this EMDR bilateral stimulation, your brain is activated to be able to “process” or “store” a memory. I help coach you through the memory, reframe it, and process it a way that doesn’t cause you distress or to have all the negative emotions attached to it. 

    This way you “store the memory” with a more positive outlook to help you move forward, rather than negatively “carrying it around,” bringing you down. 

    This is also why EMDR works so well to combat nightmares. Instead of only processing those negative memories while you’re asleep and having nightmares as a result, we’re able to have you process the memory while you’re awake with “more control” of how you feel about that memory.

  2. Once the memory is processed, I walk you through a “body scan,” which helps you dissolve any lingering negative emotions, and close up the session to bring you back into a calm state.

EMDR Treatment with Anita McLeod

As a licensed mental health professional with over 20 years experience using EMDR therapy, I have the experience to help you manage the emotions and anxiety that come with difficult memories. I strategically guide individuals to reprocess negative traumas, allowing the brain to heal and helping clients get “unstuck” from past events.

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Between EMDR sessions

When EMDR is performed correctly, between sessions you can expect to feel better about the memory that has been reprocessed. Not once in my 20+ year career of performing EMDR have I been called between sessions with someone in distress. If you are feeling worse, than the EMDR therapy is not being performed correctly and that's a red flag that you should look for a new counselor.

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EMDR and Your Overall Health

Past memories that affect emotional well-being can cause anxiety, physical stress, lack of sleep, and many other symptoms that can negatively affect your daily life. Reprocessing those memories, reframing, and storing them properly can give you a sense of relief, reduction of stress, and feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. With years of consistently performing EMDR and seeing how it affects people's lives so positively, I continue to help those in need with this remarkable therapy that has lifelong lasting effects.

How I help our counseling clients

EMDR therapy is a common approach for primarily trauma and grief counseling, but EMDR is just one of many solutions I can apply to help you feel better. Learn more about our other services and how I can help.
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What our EMDR therapy clients are saying

EMDR Treatment Testimonials

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Schedule An Appointment With McLeod Counseling, PLLC

For A Complimentary Phone Consultation

If you are a new client wanting to schedule a counseling session or or an assessment service, please call me at 585-967-9700 or fill out our form with your best phone number and email so I can get back to you within 2 business days. 

As a reminder, I am committed to your privacy. Do not include confidential or private information regarding your health or condition as this form is for general questions and appointments.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The most common use of EMDR is for traumatic events and PTSD. There may be other disorders where it can be applicable, but generally speaking, those disorders stem from a root cause of a traumatic event as well.

The bilateral stimulation of the left and right sides of the brain is really the key to EMDR.  That can be created by using theratappers, following someone’s finger or light mechanisms with your eyes, they all work. Performing one of these methods can help you access your memory, possibly remembering more of the memory then you were previously able to,  and reprocessing.

Stage 1: History And Treatment Planning

The initial stage of EMDR therapy involves building a therapeutic alliance with you, delving into your background, and establishing trust. This phase includes developing a treatment plan collaboratively, where I explore your goals and aspirations for therapy.

Identification of past traumas and current triggers is crucial, with myself probing into the associated thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This information serves as a guide for the subsequent EMDR therapy. 

Stage 2: Preparation

In the preparation phase, you are familiarized with the EMDR therapy process, its objectives, and potential reactions. Education on how EMDR works, your role during treatment, and strategies to manage reactions are provided.

You are equipped with relaxation techniques and stress management skills to navigate challenging memories and emotions. Establishing a “safe space” allows you to pause if overwhelmed, promoting a return to the memory later.

Stage 3: Assessment

This phase focuses on identifying specific memories targeted for treatment that you want to go over during the course of our therapy sessions.

During a single session, I will assess your current distress levels, negative beliefs, and associated thoughts for a memory. The subsequent reprocessing phases, involving bilateral stimulation (BLS), commence after this assessment.

Stage 4: Desensitization

Desensitization, the fourth phase, aims to reduce distress associated with the target memory. Techniques such as eye movements, auditory or tactile BLS are employed to lower the subjective units of disturbance (SUD) to zero. 

I have you bring up the memory and have you imagine the event. I will ask questions like:

  • What is the worst part of the memory?
  • What emotion or sensations do you feel during the memory?
  • What does this memory make you believe about yourself?

Stage 5: Installation

After desensitization, the installation phase enhances positive emotions associated with the memory. I’ll have you focus on positive beliefs or thoughts during continued bilateral stimulation, fostering a more positive outlook on the memory. I’ll ask questions like:

  • Are the beliefs you have about yourself, because of this memory, true or not true?
  • How would you like to think about yourself?

Stage 6: Body Scan

The body scan phase directs you to attend to bodily sensations, focusing on individual body parts, recognizing them, grounding you in reality and how you feel. Any lingering negative emotions are addressed through continued bilateral stimulation, increasing awareness of emotions and thoughts.

Stage 7: Closure

Closure, occurring at the end of each reprocessing session, this step returns you to a calm state. Completion is marked by neutral feelings about the event (SUD=0), fully embraced positive beliefs (VOC=7), and the absence of bodily disturbance.

Stage 8: Reevaluation

I will reassess your distress level for the memory (SUD) after closure. If distress has reduced, you may move on to the next target memory. Otherwise, additional sessions are considered. Reevaluation sets the stage for each new session, shaping your future treatment goals

It depends on the person but I typically work through one memory per session, with some memories taking one to three sessions. Generally speaking, the effects are felt immediate after a session.