Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy in San Diego

In the United States, 223.4 million people have had at least one traumatic experience. Unresolved trauma can lead to the development of mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD and even to the development of substance use disorders. 

At Pacific Bay Recovery, we offer eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in San Diego to help you work through trauma. Contact us today at 619-350-8220 to begin treatment. 

Understanding Trauma

Trauma is the lasting emotional response that occurs after living through a distressing event. Experiencing trauma can harm your sense of self and safety, as well as impact how you regulate emotions and navigate relationships. 

There are different types of trauma, including:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Complex trauma
  • Developmental trauma
  • Chronic trauma
  • Acute trauma
  • Intergenerational trauma

Distressing events activate the amygdala, which is the structure in your brain that can detect threats. The amygdala’s response is to send alarms throughout the body to prepare it for defensive actions, causing your nervous system to release adrenaline, noradrenaline, and stress hormones. 

For some people, the amygdala becomes hyperactive, holding the emotional significance of the distressing event and leading to lasting trauma.  


What Is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing?

Eye movement desensitization treatment is a mental health therapy method that focuses on reprocessing traumatic experiences. It encourages you to focus briefly on the traumatic memory while experiencing bilateral stimulation by making specific eye movements. 

Bilateral stimulation is associated with a reduction in the emotion and vividness attached to the memory. 

EMDR therapy in San Diego works on the principle that your brain stores normal and traumatic memories differently. With normal memories, your brain stores them smoothly, connecting them to other things you remember. 

During upsetting events, however, that connection does not work correctly, producing a disconnection between what you feel, hear, and see and what your brain stores as a memory. All of this makes the traumatic memory similar to a wound in your brain that does not heal. 

To begin the healing process, EMDR therapy encourages you to access traumatic memories in very specific ways and then start bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation stimulates both sides of your brain in an alternating left and right manner, allowing you to access your subconscious mind while at the same time processing the memory. 

EMDR in San Diego allows you to stay anchored in the present while you revisit the trauma. Learn more about EMDR by calling us at 619-350-8220.

Benefits of Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy in San Diego, CA

EMDR is a therapeutic option that works more rapidly than other forms of trauma treatment. Some people can start feeling a decrease in anxiety and depression after just one session with our EMDR specialists, while those with severe trauma can require up to six sessions.

This type of therapy also does not require journaling or other types of homework, which is important for people who have severe trauma and cannot manage to focus on this kind of work. 

EMDR is also a less stressful type of therapy because it does not require that you speak about the traumatic experience or in any way relive it. 

EMDR therapy is individualized, allowing us to make adjustments and tackle the challenges you face in unique ways.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

The Phases of EMDR Treatment in San Diego

When you begin treatment at our EMDR center in San Diego, you will have one or two sessions a week, beginning with the history-taking phase. 

History Taking

After our assessment, we will work with you to put together a treatment plan as well as goals. During this phase, we will speak about your history, what symptoms you experience, and what triggers you have. At this phase, we can determine whether EMDR is a good option for you.


During the preparation phase, our eye movement desensitization specialists will explain how EMDR works. We can also offer coping mechanisms that can help you manage the symptoms of trauma while you receive treatment so that you do not turn to self-harm or substance abuse. These can include breathing exercises and more. 

Memory Assessment

This phase allows us to pinpoint the memory you want to process. We will assess cognition, imagery, affect, and body sensations related to the memory using diagnostic scales. We can then use these results as your starting point.

Desensitization and Reprocessing

During this phase, our specialists will encourage you to activate the memory by helping you identify and focus on a negative feeling, thought, or body sensation. They will also guide you in the eye movements you need to make. 


We will then focus on the positive belief you want to build as you process the memory. 

Body Scan

Our San Diego EMDR specialists will then focus on how you feel, especially if you experience any of the usual symptoms you associate with the memory. It helps us identify the progress you make throughout the sessions. As treatment progresses, you should experience fewer symptoms.

Closure and Stabilization

At this phase of treatment, we help you learn how to stabilize yourself between sessions. Our specialists will not end a session until you feel safe and calm. 

Reevaluation and Continuing Care

Reevaluation and continued care allow us to go over your progress with you, helping us determine whether you will need additional treatment sessions or if you want to adjust your goals. We can also help you explore what you may expect to experience in the future. 

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Visit Our Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Clinic

If unresolved trauma impacts your life, EMDR in San Diego can be a way to start healing. By allowing you to process the memory with both sides of your brain, EMDR therapy can start removing the powerful negative emotions associated with it. 

At Pacific Bay Recovery in San Diego, CA, we offer the latest therapeutic options to help you overcome substance use disorders and mental health conditions. Call us at our San Diego eye movement desensitization and reprocessing clinic today at 619-350-8220.

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