Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic approach to help individuals who have experienced trauma. EMDR therapy was initially developed in 1987 to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) based on the Adaptive Information Processing model. Our EMDR therapy Phoenix center provides a safe and supportive environment for clients to work through past traumas and emotional distress.

Soldier sitting on the floor suffering from PTSD symptoms concept image for AZ EMDR therapy and grief counseling


The experience of trauma can impact you in many ways. Some people can effectively manage their complex trauma experience without having it significantly and negatively impact their lives. For others, the experience of trauma can cause significant dysfunction in their lives, and they may find it difficult to cope. If you are finding it hard to live life after traumatic experiences, we offer mental health services and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing may be appropriate for you. The therapeutic process of EMDR can be a powerful tool in helping individuals overcome the debilitating effects of trauma.


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How is EMDR Different from Other Therapies?

EMDR therapy is different from other therapies that focus on modifying emotions and thoughts associated with traumatic memories; EMDR targets the memory itself and works to change the way the memory gets stored in the brain resulting in a reduction or elimination of problematic symptoms. The Adaptive Processing model recognizes PTSD symptoms to be a result of past disturbing experiences that have not been sufficiently processed which results in distressing symptoms.

So how does EMDR work? EMDR therapy incorporates rapid eye movements with other types of rhythmic left-right (bilateral) stimulation like tones or taps. Bilateral stimulation is also known as BLS. The idea is that while focusing on the trauma memory while concurrently experiencing bilateral stimulation, the emotion and richness of the memory are decreased.

The Structure of EMDR Therapy

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy is highly structured and operates in eight different phases, each of which will be explored further.

Phase 1: History taking and treatment planning. This includes a full and comprehensive assessment and working with your therapist to identify targets for treatment, including future goals, current triggers, and disturbing memories.

Phase 2: Preparation. The therapist introduces you to EMDR treatment, orients you to EMDR procedures, practicing the eye movement, and other components; the therapist confirms that you have adequate skills for emotional management and leads the client through the Safe/Calm Place exercise. Our EMDR therapists in Phoenix are highly trained in providing you with the necessary tools and techniques to manage emotions during the EMDR process.

Phase 3: Assessing the target memory. Through assessment, the target memory is activated by identifying and targeting components of the memory such as cognition, imagery, body sensation, and affect; Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) and Validity of Cognition (VOC) are evaluative tools to measure changes in thoughts and feelings.

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Phases 4-7: Processing the memory through adaptive resolution. This includes desensitization, installation, body scan, and closure.

Phase 4: Desensitization. You focus on the traumatic memory while engaging in eye movements and report whatever new thoughts have emerged to your therapist.

Phase 5: Installation. The preferred positive cognition/thought is strengthened.

Phase 6: Body scan. You are asked to observe your physical reactions while thinking about the memory and positive thought, as well as any outstanding somatic reaction.

Phase 7: Closure. Closure ends the session and if the memory hasn’t been fully processed and resolved in session, instructions are given to ensure safety and provide containment until the next session.

Phase 8: Re-evaluation. The therapist assesses your present psychological state, the effectiveness of treatment, whether treatment effects have been sustained, new memories that have appeared, and identifies targets for the current session.

Length of EMDR Therapy in Phoenix, AZ

EMDR is rather brief in length. Sessions are usually conducted 1-2 times per week for a total of 6-12 sessions. Your frequency of sessions may vary, and the number of sessions you require may be less than 6, depending on your symptoms and objectives.

Trauma and Addiction

If trauma is left unresolved, the symptoms can be intense and cause impairment in your ability to perform daily tasks such as going to work, school, and caring for your family. Your everyday life may be impacted in various ways, including difficulty sleeping, mood changes, and decreased concentration. Unresolved trauma, or trauma that results in significant symptoms, may increase your risk of using drugs and alcohol to cope with the symptoms. If you have experienced trauma and are struggling with substance use as a result, help is available to you.

At Camelback Recovery, we recognize the importance of treating trauma alongside addiction. Our trauma therapy treatment in Phoenix, Arizona focuses on addressing the underlying issues that contribute to substance use and helps you develop healthy coping mechanisms. That’s why we work with you to create a treatment plan specific to you and your needs to help provide you with the appropriate skills and tools for a sober life. Experiencing trauma can leave you feeling helpless and out of control. We can help you regain control and a sense of empowerment over your life. Don’t let trauma steal your happiness and your ability to create a life worth living for yourself. You deserve to be happy. Let Camelback Recovery, the best mental health and addiction treatment center, help you work through your trauma and end your addiction today.