Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)


We offer EMDR therapy to treat trauma and PTSD for First Responders, Police and others.

What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy?

EMDR was originally developed to treat trauma and PTSD and so has a long record of clinical success for these conditions.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) involves talk therapy plus a stimulation of a client’s eyes. Essentially, the client is asked to recall and process their trauma with visual stimulation from either a device or other visual cues (our therapists at Acuity use tactile pads or hand cues). Either way that it is conducted, this method is an effective therapy as it helps clients to access and become desensitized to traumatic memories.

EMDR works because it allows traumatic memories to be dealt with in a therapeutic environment that accelerates relearning and coping processes.

Our EMDR encourages clients to develop a deeper understanding and processing of the trauma, which helps to desensitize them to their traumatic memory and adjust their behavior accordingly. Just as you have to remove a splinter to heal a wound fully, EMDR helps you remove the negative emotions attached to a difficult memory. 

People react instinctively to trauma, and in one of three ways. Either we get angry and ready for conflict, we feel the desperate need to escape the situation we find ourselves in, or we freeze in place. Oftentimes we find ourselves re-experiencing the event and reacting the same way as when we first experienced it. Respectively these responses can look like (to the untrained eye) poor mood control, anxiety, or depression. 

Contact us to schedule an appointment or ask a question:

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What Conditions is EMDR Treatment Used For?

EMDR is most effective when dealing with a past trauma, but the specific conditions attached to that trauma may vary, because we all respond in different ways.

Some conditions or situations that EMDR can help resolve include:

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias 
  • Chronic illness and medical issues
  • Depression and bipolar disorders
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Grief and loss including chronic disease diagnosis
  • Pain
  • Performance anxiety
  • Personality disorders
  • PTSD and other trauma and stress-related issues
  • Sexual assault
  • Sleep dysfunction
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Violence and abuse
  • Source: Edmria.org

EMDR is Focused on Desensitization

About Triggers and Desensitization

At any given moment:

Our minds have to process hundreds of sounds, looks, smells, thoughts and feelings.  When we go through a trauma any of these stimuli can be associated with the original trauma, “triggering” us to revisit or relive that moment. Oftentimes these are obvious and can be avoided, such as certain people or places. However other triggers may be less obvious. 

For instance:

Let’s imagine that when you were in school you were bullied over your weight, particularly so on pizza day. Now as an adult any hint of pizza (commercials, smells near a pizzeria) brings up that difficult memory. In this case, we may say that pizza is a trigger of your bullying, or we could say that you are sensitized to pizza. 

EMDR is focused on desensitization.

Making it so that you can go back to your daily life without having to be controlled by your sensitivity to certain triggers. Another way to understand this is that if you think of difficult memories as landmines, you can spend your whole life stepping around them, but if you can locate the mine and make it powerless, your life gets significantly less stressful. The process of looking at it the trauma straight on may be stressful for a time, but leads to a better quality of life in the long run.

EMDR at Acuity Counseling

We typically prescribe EMDR for patients that find it difficult to talk about or revisit past traumas through traditional talk therapy.

1: History Taking

We usually start EMDR therapy with a history taking session where we cover the memories and events that cause you the most distress. Is it one specific event or an accumulation of many? Are these events that happen quite often your current life? Some clients find benefit in working on issues that preceded the specific event they have in mind (potentially in childhood).

Usually we take a full client history starting with the earliest relevant memory. Gaining insight at this stage itself can cause emotional relief. Keep in mind that childhood and recurring traumas in particular can take longer to resolve due to their unique difficulties. 

2: Coping

Usually, revisiting painful memories can cause significant distress. That’s why early on in the process before we apply EMDR we work to equip clients with coping skills for emotional distress. We teach certain stress reduction techniques that can be used as difficult memories arise. We also communicate with clients what to do if they are overwhelmed during therapy. 


For each difficult memory we follow 4 steps:

  1. We ask that you keep the memory in mind.
  2. We probe deeper. What are your negative beliefs about yourself surrounding the event? (e.g. Do you feel responsible or deserving of it?)
  3. We consider the relationship between your emotions surrounding the event and your feelings currently both emotional and physical.
  4. We ask about your goals. What is the emotion or belief related to the event that you would like to feel by the end of therapy? (e.g. I want to feel that I control my life and how I respond to the world)

As you focus on the memory and your associations with the memory, we stimulate your eyes with a device, physical taps or directions. As we do so you will notice spontaneous thoughts and feelings. After this stimulation, we will explore the first thing to come into your mind (with therapist direction).

What we have found is that the more we “restart” your thoughts around the traumatic event using EMDR, the more you are able to reduce the power of your negative thoughts around the event. 

4. Develop Closure

After these sessions you will be asked to keep track of the related experiences you have surrounding your targeted memories. As you go through this you can apply the stress reduction techniques that we taught early on. You will find that as the event is triggered in these following days, the less power it has.

5. Follow-Up

As we follow-up after each session we track your progress with check-ins. How comfortably you are dealing with the past, how you are coping with current challenges and if you can deal with future events that will require you to act differently. We use a variety of outcome measures to keep our therapists as accountable to your growth as possible, which in turn helps us best direct treatment to your specific requirements. 

EMDR Therapy Available Online (Covid-19)

Please note that during the coronavirus pandemic we offer a modulated EMDR that can be done virtually. With some minor adjustments we are able to do EMDR completely from the comfort of your home. As long as you are able to connect to the internet and your computer audio functions we are able to perform EMDR. Your therapist will discuss the logistics with you during your initial sessions. 

Frequently Asked Questions for EMDR Therapy

Why does EMDR therapy work?

The exact reason EMDR works remains a mystery. Some say that what happens in REM sleep (another type of eye movement) plays an important role in processing trauma. Others suggest that by distracting our conscious mind with visuals, we can better delve into the unconscious and repressed memories. In any case, extensive empirical research has proven it as an effective treatment for trauma, in all its forms.

Can I do EMDR online?

Yes, you can do EMDR online. In fact we have found ways to adapt the traditional, in-person EMDR to be done over a Zoom video conference, available from Acuity.

Which therapist is right for us?

Let us help you find the right therapist. Many of our therapists specialize in anxiety, so view our profiles online to learn more about specific counselors specializing in anxiety treatment or speak with our Client Care Coordinator, who can help you with a personalized match to the right therapist for your needs. 

Finding the RIGHT therapist is the most important piece of reaching your goals.

How long does Therapy take?

Counseling works best within the framework of a safe and trusted therapeutic alliance. Since it takes time to build this relationship with your therapist, we recommend committing to weekly sessions for at least 8 weeks. Research shows that consistency adds to the positive outcomes of therapy. Once you reach your 8-week goal, you and your therapist can discuss a frequency of sessions that will support your continued success.

I’ve never done therapy before...What can I expect in my sessions?

The unknown of anything new can make it scary. Especially if you’ve never been to counseling before. Let us show you the “roadmap” so you know what to expect:

1st Session:
This first meeting is an introduction for both you and your counselor. Your therapist will explain the therapy process and go over the specifics of informed consent. From there, your therapist will gather additional information about your history, current circumstances, as well as struggles and personal strengths, which will help them to define a treatment plan that aligns with your goals. 

This is also the chance for you to learn more about your therapist. We encourage you to ask questions and get to know them; the relationship you build with your therapist will be the most important part of your work together. 

2nd Session and Future sessions:
In your weekly sessions, you and your therapist will use evidenced based therapies such as CBT, Mindfulness or ACT, to help you address your symptoms of worry, stress and anxiety. For anxiety rooted in trauma, or related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), your therapist may recommend treatment with EMDR.

Closing Sessions:
Our goal is for you to find relief from your anxiety and be ready to “graduate” from therapy. In the last few sessions with your therapist, you will review your initial goals, the progress you have made, and solidify your new skills for managing anxiety in your life. At your last meeting together, you’ll have the time for the meaningful goodbye with your therapist.

How much does Counseling cost?

We strive to create access to high quality mental healthcare for everyone. Our therapists’ rates vary by experience and specialized training. We will make every effort to find the right therapist for you. 

Acuity Counseling also accepts health insurance and offers both in-network and out-of-network coverage. 

We are in-network partners with: 



First Choice

Premera Blue Cross

* We do not participate in EAP plans

Why don’t you only use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

While we use CBT as an aspect of our therapeutic approaches, we know that every individual is different. No one responds to any method perfectly, so by employing many techniques we are able to provide the most personalized support. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is talked about in relation to mental health so often because it has a large body of research behind it and is easy to replicate across all cases. This is why you may hear it called “evidence based,” which it certainly is. However, we use other evidence based therapies in conjunction with CBT in our therapies.

How can I evaluate whether therapy is working?

Acuity is unique because we use research backed questionnaires to assess your mood, goals and progress. From time to time we may share with you your progress on these reports, “you report being angry 30% less days than when you started therapy,” and then ask what your goals for the future may be. We have found that by having clients set their own goals and following up regularly we can achieve better results.

Is medication used in conjunction with your therapy?

Some conditions for some people are best treated with the help of medication. If we find it necessary after our initial assessments, we will discuss types of medication, your comfort with it, and the pros and cons of medication with you. If you so choose, we can refer you to the appropriate psychopharmacologist in the area. If you are already on medication, we will coordinate treatment with your primary provider.

How long does therapy take?

Counseling works best within the framework of a safe and trusted therapeutic alliance. Since it takes time to build this relationship with your therapist, we recommend committing to weekly sessions for at least 8 weeks. Research shows that consistency adds to the positive outcomes of therapy. Once you reach your 8-week goal, you and your therapist can discuss a frequency of sessions that will support your continued success.

Break-free and begin your journey to

Your best

There is a future life where trauma does not control your day. Imagine yourself feeling calm, confident and ready to handle new situations with ease. The tools to living the life you have always envisioned are here, at your fingertips.

LifeStance Health can help.


Reach out directly to our Client Care Coordinator for questions, matching, and scheduling:

Online Counseling

Our services are also available online through Zoom. Telehealth/Online counseling gives you the opportunity to explore your challenges in life without complicating your daily schedule.


First Session Within 72 Hours of Calling

We book you an appointment within 24 hours of contacting us (usually less) and make sure your first appointment is soon after.


Call our office to schedule your appointment, or for any changes regarding scheduling.

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Counseling services are often covered in full or in part by your health insurance company. LifeStance proudly accepts most major health insurance plans.
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