Understanding the Side Effects of EMDR Therapy

Jan 1, 2024

Welcome to drericmeyer.com, where we provide comprehensive information and guidance on various aspects of counseling and mental health. In this article, we will explore the side effects of EMDR therapy, a widely-used treatment for traumatic experiences and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is a scientifically-backed psychotherapy technique that aims to help individuals overcome the negative impacts of traumatic experiences. It was originally developed in the late 1980s and has gained widespread recognition and acceptance in the mental health field.

During an EMDR therapy session, a trained therapist guides the client through a structured process that combines eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation with focused attention on the distressing memories or thoughts. The goal is to facilitate the brain's natural healing mechanisms, reducing the emotional intensity surrounding traumatic memories and promoting adaptive resolution.

The Potential Side Effects of EMDR Therapy

While EMDR therapy is generally safe and well-tolerated by most individuals, it's important to understand that there can be potential side effects or temporary repercussions as the therapy progresses.

1. Temporary Discomfort: Some individuals may experience a temporary increase in distress or discomfort during or after an EMDR session. This can be due to the reactivation of traumatic memories or as a result of intense emotional processing. It is important to communicate openly and honestly with your therapist throughout the process so that they can provide appropriate support and guidance.

2. Vivid Dreams or Nightmares: It is common for individuals undergoing EMDR therapy to experience more intense dreams or nightmares. This can be attributed to the brain's natural processing and integration of traumatic memories. If such dreams become bothersome or significantly impact your well-being, make sure to discuss them with your therapist.

3. Emotional Reactivity: EMDR therapy may evoke strong emotional responses as traumatic memories are processed. This is a normal part of the healing process, but it's crucial to have proper support systems in place to manage and cope with these emotions effectively. Your therapist will guide you in developing self-soothing techniques and emotional regulation strategies.

4. Physical Sensations: Some individuals may experience physical sensations during or after EMDR sessions. This can include muscle tension, headaches, or fatigue. These sensations are usually temporary and tend to subside as the therapy progresses. It is essential to communicate with your therapist about any physical discomfort you may experience.

Managing and Minimizing EMDR Therapy Side Effects

Although some side effects may arise during EMDR therapy, there are several strategies to manage and minimize them:

  • Regular Communication with your Therapist: Effective communication is key to successful EMDR therapy. Discuss any concerns, discomfort, or side effects openly with your therapist, who can provide guidance and reassurance throughout the treatment process.
  • Self-Care and Emotional Support: Engage in self-care practices that promote relaxation and emotional well-being. This may include activities such as exercise, journaling, meditation, or spending time with loved ones who provide emotional support.
  • Follow the Recommended Treatment Plan: Adherence to the treatment plan provided by your therapist is crucial. Consistency and commitment to attending therapy sessions will help facilitate the therapeutic progress and minimize any potential side effects.
  • Engage in Stress-Relief Activities: Incorporate stress-relief activities into your routine to help manage any temporary discomfort or emotional reactivity. This can include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or engaging in hobbies that bring joy and relaxation.


EMDR therapy is a well-established and effective treatment modality for individuals struggling with traumatic experiences or PTSD. While there may be some potential side effects associated with EMDR therapy, they are often temporary and manageable with proper support and guidance from a trained therapist.

At drericmeyer.com, we aim to provide you with reliable information, support, and resources to help you make informed decisions about your mental health and well-being. Understanding the potential side effects of EMDR therapy is essential for individuals considering this treatment option.

If you have any further questions or concerns about EMDR therapy or any other topics related to counseling and mental health, feel free to explore our website for more valuable content, or reach out to our team of professionals who are always ready to assist you.

Remember, your mental health matters, and seeking appropriate help and support is an important step towards healing and personal growth.