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EMDR for Eating Disorders

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Our bodies and brains are naturally wired to want to be well. When we experience trauma or adverse life experiences, those experiences and memories can get locked in the brain. This can often lead to maladaptive symptoms. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy that can help individuals process traumatic experiences, alleviate negative symptoms, and find relief and freedom in their lives.

What is EMDR?

EMDR is an evidence-based psychotherapy that is based on the model called Adaptive Information Processing (AIP). EMDR was developed over 30 years ago. It is often used for PTSD, but it’s also successful with other disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD, eating disorders, chronic pain, addictions, grief, and other distressing life experiences.

When a person experiences a traumatic event, the information, memories, and experiences can be stored in the brain maladaptively. EMDR activates the system within your brain to allow it to reprocess the experience(s), and therefore getting them “unstuck” and stored properly. Your brain is very powerful and does the healing throughout EMDR.


In practice, EMDR uses an 8-phase, 3-pronged approach (past/present/future) that targets past experiences, present and current triggers, and future potential challenges. EMDR follows a standardized set of procedures and protocols which incorporate dual focus of attention and bilateral stimulation (BLS). BLS is used to stimulate the reprocessing of a traumatic event with the use of tactile approaches such as buzzers/tappers, or through eye movements, or auditory means. You can read all about the 8 phases of EMDR here.


Any client considering EMDR would have a thorough discussion with their clinician so that they have a clear understanding of the entire process before beginning.

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Is EMDR Effective?

EMDR is a thoroughly researched and studied therapeutic practice. Since its initial development in the late 1980s by Dr. Francine Shapiro, “EMDR therapy has been demonstrated to be effective for treating trauma in randomized clinical trials, case studies, and millions of clinical hours treating trauma and trauma-related disorders across the globe.”1

Many reputable mental health and government organizations, including The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the World Health Organization, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S Department of Defense recognize EMDR therapy as an effective treatment.2 EMDR is widely used worldwide, and in fact, “more than 7 million people have been treated successfully by 110,000 therapists in 130 countries since 2016.”3

Does EMDR work for Eating Disorders?

Many eating disorders have roots in traumatic experiences.  In fact, one-fourth of all people diagnosed with an eating disorder will also have symptoms of C-PTSD. Sadly, it is often a co-occurring diagnosis. At Recovered and Restored, our therapists use a trauma-informed approach and employ several eclectic models to assist clients on their healing journey. Therapists have used EMDR effectively for treating eating disorders. This is why we’re excited to be able to offer EMDR to our clients.

Can EMDR be done virtually?

Yes! EMDR can be done through virtual therapy sessions. Recovered and Restored offers virtual therapy and so is able to offer EMDR virtually to current or new clients for whom it is deemed appropriate.

How long does EMDR take to work?

It’s important to keep in mind that there is no definitive schedule for how long EMDR takes to be successful. Among other factors, it can depend on the magnitude and quantity of traumatic events that a person has experienced. Research has shown patients seeing success from EMDR after varying number of sessions. For example:

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Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.  Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions.  In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions.4

As with starting any therapy, it’s important to not put a timeframe on it. If beginning with EMDR, our therapist will work with you to set expectation and an understanding of the process.

Who can administer EMDR?

EMDR therapy is a mental health intervention, and therefore should only be offered by properly trained and licensed mental health clinicians. Therapists can undergo training administered by EMDR International Administration (EMDRIA). At Recovered and Restored, Breanna Potts, one of our masters level clinicians, is Level 1 EMDR trained and able to offer EMDR therapy to current and new clients.

How do I get started with EMDR?

If you are interested in learning more about EMDR and working with our team, please get in touch with us here. We are here for you, rooting you on in your recovery!

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