EMDR Therapy Side Effects: Uncovering the Truth

Jan 12, 2024


EMDR therapy, short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, is a powerful and effective treatment approach that has gained significant recognition in the field of counseling and mental health. This therapy technique, developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, has shown promising results in alleviating various emotional distress and trauma-related disorders.

Understanding EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy utilizes a combination of vivid recall of distressing memories or experiences with simultaneous bilateral stimulation, usually through eye movements. The therapist guides the client's eye movements or other forms of alternating stimuli while focusing on the distressing memory or trigger.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to help individuals process unresolved traumas and distressing events by enabling the brain to integrate the traumatic memory in a healthier way, reducing the emotional and physiological distress associated with it.

The Effectiveness of EMDR Therapy

Extensive research supports the effectiveness of EMDR therapy in treating various mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, and more. EMDR therapy has shown particularly positive outcomes for individuals who have experienced traumatic events or distressing life experiences.

Studies have consistently demonstrated that EMDR therapy can lead to significant reductions in distressing symptoms, decrease the impact of traumatic memories, and improve overall well-being. This therapy approach has been recognized by reputable organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Safety of EMDR Therapy

One of the reasons EMDR therapy has gained popularity is its excellent safety profile. EMDR therapy is considered a non-invasive and low-risk treatment option, making it suitable for a wide range of individuals seeking counseling and mental health support.

Unlike some other interventions, EMDR therapy does not involve the use of medications, which means there are no associated risks of drug interactions or side effects typically associated with pharmacological interventions.

Addressing Concerns about EMDR Therapy Side Effects

While EMDR therapy is generally well-tolerated, it's essential to address concerns surrounding potential side effects. It's natural for individuals considering EMDR therapy to have questions about how it may affect them and what to expect from the treatment.

1. Emotional Discomfort during EMDR Therapy: Some individuals may experience temporary emotional discomfort or intensification of distress during EMDR therapy sessions. However, this is a normal and expected part of the healing process and often subsides as the therapy progresses.

2. Vivid Dreams or Nightmares: As EMDR therapy involves the processing of traumatic memories, it can occasionally result in vivid dreams or nightmares during the treatment phase. These experiences are usually transient and diminish over time.

3. Temporary Heightened Awareness: Some individuals may report increased sensitivity or awareness of their surroundings following EMDR therapy sessions. This heightened awareness typically resolves on its own and is often seen as a positive sign of progress.

4. Physical Sensations: It's not uncommon for people to experience physical sensations such as fatigue, tension, or changes in appetite during or after EMDR therapy. These effects are generally short-lived and considered manageable.


EMDR therapy is a valuable tool in the field of counseling and mental health, offering a safe and effective approach for treating trauma and distressing experiences. It has been widely recognized by professionals and has shown positive results for individuals seeking relief from various mental health conditions.

At drericmeyer.com, we provide experienced and compassionate therapists who specialize in EMDR therapy. If you are considering EMDR therapy or have any questions or concerns about this treatment approach, we are here to guide you through the process and help you achieve lasting healing and well-being.