Patricia Morgan PhDHot air balloons reflecting in lake, butterfly


Phone: 814-297-7079

Local Service Providers

Helpful Techniques
1-2-3 Timeout
Comforting Others
Positive Coaching
Mental Health for
College Life
at Work
Traditional Therapies
Glossary of Terms


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a late-stage, trauma resolution method. Developed in the late 1980's, EMDR has more scientific research as a treatment for trauma than any other non-pharmaceutical intervention. Based on empirical evidence as well as thousands of client and clinician testimonials, EMDR has proven an efficacious and rapid method of reprocessing traumatic experiences.

EMDR is about integration—bilateral hemispheric (right/left brain) integration; triune brain (brain stem, limbic system and cerebral cortex) integration; and some type of mind/body integration. It is a way to convince the mind and body that the traumatic event is over. Instead of staying stuck and feeling like it’s happening all over again with the same thoughts, emotions and sensations, EMDR puts the past where it belongs—in the past.

Is EMDR Dangerous?

  • EMDR activates traumatic memories.

  • EMDR can be fear-inducing and traumatizing.

  • EMDR by a qualified therapist is not dangerous.

  • Clients must be adequately prepared before EMDR.

  • EMDR by someone lacking the required training is dangerous and irresponsible.

EMDR is accomplished in four steps

1. Establishment of Safety—Safety within the therapeutic relationship and safety within each individual EMDR session. Your therapist will begin each EMDR session by activating your internal resources. She will guide you in an imaginal, multisensory imagery exercise designed to activate images, emotions and body sensations of safety, protection, nurture and comfort, followed by the actual trauma reprocessing.

2. Activating the Traumatic Memory Network—The therapist will ask a series of questions regarding your traumatic memory to activate your traumatic memory network.

3. Adding Alternating Bilateral Stimulation—Once the traumatic memory is activated, the therapist will add alternating bilateral stimulation via any or all of the following:

  1. Begin the buzzing in your hands by turning on the Theratapper

  2. Playing alternating auditory tones via headphones or ear buds

  3. Moving her fingers back and forth, so you may visually track the movement across your body’s midline

4. Reestablishment of Safety—Regardless of whether the traumatic material was completely processed or not, the session will end at a pre-set time. Before you leave, you will be stable, embodied, oriented and calm. Depending on you and your therapist’s preferences, this may be accomplished in a variety of ways including, but not limited to re-activating your own internal resources, breathing exercises, prolonged muscle relaxation, etc.

What Can I Expect?

Expect your clinician to continuously attend to your safety and stabilization needs. You are entitled to the following:

  • A solid therapeutic relationship, i.e. a good rapport and adequate trust in your therapist

  • An explicit crisis plan—co-written by you

  • Psychoeducation regarding trauma—Its effects and current treatment options, including the modalities used.

  • Skill training in self-regulation of emotion, arousal reduction, and distress tolerance prior to EMDR.

  • Before reprocessing trauma, you should:

- Feel stable

- Have access to an external support system

- Have a decent sense of self and identity

- In a relatively healthy manner, be able to handle the intensity of your own emotions

If this is not clear, ask what all of this means and how to best prepare for EMDR