Where Can I Find EMDR Therapy in Orange County, CA?

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If you’re dealing with trauma, therapy can help you. Trauma therapy is a safe and effective option for relieving the symptoms of mental health disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), childhood trauma, complex trauma, and more. There are many evidence-based and holistic therapies for trauma.

One of the most effective treatment methods for trauma is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. Behavioral health professionals at South Coast Behavioral Health offer EMDR therapy to our clients with traumatic memories. In this article, you’ll learn about the trauma-healing benefits of EMDR therapy in Orange County, CA, and where you can find help.

What Is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of psychotherapy used to treat those suffering from trauma. In the late 1980s, psychologist Francine Shapiro invented the technique to lessen the impact of distressing memories associated with a traumatic experience.

The core premise of EMDR is to lessen the impact of painful memories through the application of guided bilateral stimulation. To induce bilateral stimulation, certified EMDR therapists perform hand-tapping techniques, sound devices, or light pulses that alternate positions from left to right.

These movements or sounds are then mirrored by the client’s eyes. As their eyes move from side to side, clients drift into a state of relaxation. This calming state allows the therapist to address a distressing memory with the client without triggering their automatic stress response.

During an EMDR session, the therapist guides the client in recalling distressing memories. At the same time, they engage in these bilateral stimulations. This process aims to help the individual reprocess traumatic memories. It also reduces their emotional reactivity and integrates more adaptive beliefs and emotions.

What Is the Goal of EMDR?

EMDR therapy in Orange County requires the expertise of a licensed EMDR therapist who has received specialized training in this therapeutic approach. These include psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and other qualified practitioners.

The goals of EMDR therapy include:

  • Desensitization: To help individuals become less reactive to traumatic memories and experiences.
  • Reprocessing: To facilitate processing traumatic memories while integrating more adaptive beliefs and emotions.
  • Resolution of symptoms: To reduce or eliminate symptoms associated with trauma, such as flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, and avoidance behaviors.
  • Enhancing coping skills: To equip individuals with effective coping strategies to manage distressing emotions and triggers related to trauma.


By inducing brief recollections of a trauma memory experiencing bilateral stimulation, EMDR aims to reduce the distress caused by traumatic experiences and promote psychological healing and resilience. It is an evidence-based treatment for trauma, PTSD, and a wide range of trauma-related conditions.

What Mental Health Disorders Does EMDR Therapy Treat?

Due to its adaptive nature, EMDR can provide relief to those struggling to process distressing memories. For this reason, EMDR is an effective treatment option for various types of trauma, including PTSD, childhood abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters.

It can also be used to address other mental health issues, such as:

  • Anxiety Disorders: EMDR therapy has shown promise in treating various anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. By targeting distressing memories, EMDR can reduce anxiety symptoms and improve coping skills.
  • Depression: EMDR therapy can assist in treating depression by processing underlying traumas and negative beliefs. EMDR can contribute to reducing depressive symptoms and promoting emotional well-being.
  • Phobias and Fears: EMDR therapy treats specific phobias and irrational fears by desensitizing an individual’s response to triggering stimuli. It also addresses traumatic experiences or negative beliefs associated with the phobia.
  • Addictions and Substance Abuse: EMDR therapy can occur alongside other comprehensive treatment services for substance abuse and addiction. It can help individuals process trauma and address triggers of psychological distress.


If you want to try EMDR therapy in Orange County, CA, it is important to find a certified therapist who has received specialized training in this technique. At South Coast Behavioral Health, our EMDR-certified therapists can help you create a safe and supportive environment during your sessions.

Remember, seeking help for trauma takes courage and strength. EMDR can be a powerful tool in the healing process, providing relief from distressing symptoms and allowing for the processing of traumatic events in a safe and effective manner. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you or someone you know is struggling with trauma-related issues. Together, we can work toward finding peace and resilience in the face of adversity.

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What Is EMDR Therapy in Orange County Like?

EMDR therapy in Orange County can provide immense benefits for those suffering from PTSD and other disorders linked to painful memories like depression and anxiety. At quality treatment centers like South Coast Behavioral Health, licensed and experienced therapists follow a structured, evidence-based approach to assist clients in processing and healing from trauma.

EMDR therapy involves a specific eight-phase approach that includes the following:

  1. History taking
  2. Preparation
  3. Assessment
  4. Desensitization
  5. Installation
  6. Body scan
  7. Closure
  8. Reevaluation


When performed by a certified EMDR therapist, this trauma-informed technique is considered by many experts to be a highly effective and efficient method of psychotherapy. It is based on the theory that traumatic experiences can become “stuck” in the brain, causing ongoing distress and symptoms.

History Taking and Treatment Planning

9. The therapist begins by conducting a thorough assessment of your history, including past traumatic experiences, current symptoms, and goals for therapy. Together, you and the therapist develop a treatment plan. Your plan identifies specific targets for processing during EMDR sessions.

EMDR Preparation

10. In this phase, the therapist educates you about EMDR therapy, explains the process, and teaches coping skills to manage distress and regulate emotions. This phase ensures you feel safe and prepared to engage in the therapeutic process.


11. The therapist helps you identify specific memories, beliefs, sensations, and emotions related to the targeted issue or trauma. This involves identifying the most distressing aspects of the memory or experience to target during EMDR processing.


12. This is the core phase of EMDR therapy. During desensitization, you focus on the distressing memory or target while at the same time engaging in bilateral stimulation, such as following the therapist’s hand movements with your eyes or listening to alternating sounds. The bilateral stimulation helps the processing and integration of the traumatic memory, reducing its emotional charge.


13. In this phase, positive beliefs and emotions get stronger and integrated to replace negative beliefs associated with the traumatic memory. You work with the therapist to cultivate feelings of safety, empowerment, and self-compassion related to the targeted issue.

Body Scan

14. The therapist guides you in scanning your body to identify any residual tension, discomfort, or emotional distress after desensitization and installation. This phase helps ensure that the processing is thorough and complete.


15. At the end of each session, the therapist helps you stabilize and return to a state of emotional equilibrium. This may involve relaxation techniques, grounding exercises, or other strategies to promote safety and containment until the next session.


16. In future sessions, the therapist reassesses your progress and identifies any remaining targets for processing. EMDR therapy happens over several sessions, with the number of sessions varying depending on the complexity of the issues addressed and your individual treatment goals.

What Are the Benefits of EMDR Vs Traditional Therapies?

Research comparing the efficacy of EMDR and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) in the treatment of trauma and PTSD found EMDR therapy to be a faster, more effective treatment method. This is because EMDR targets the root cause of a client’s distress rather than simply managing symptoms over the course of several months or years. As a result, individuals are able to experience quicker, long-lasting relief from their trauma.

Unlike traditional therapies like CBT which include weekly sessions over the course of 12 to 20 weeks, EMDR therapy typically occurs over a total of 6-12 consecutive days. As a result, people can experience the therapeutic benefits faster and are far less likely to quit before completing their treatment.

Another benefit of EMDR is that it does not require the same level of verbalization and processing as other therapies. This can be particularly helpful for those who struggle with talking about their traumatic experiences or have difficulty expressing their emotions. EMDR allows individuals to access and process these experiences on a deeper level without having to fully relive them through words. Alternatively, TF-CBT requires repetitive descriptions of an event both in and outside of therapy in the form of homework assignments.

After completing EMDR therapy, clients can experience the benefits of treatment through a reduction in symptoms, increased resilience, self-empowerment, and self-acceptance.

To ensure a client’s continued success in recovery, therapists can also provide recommendations for ongoing self-care and support. This helps to maintain the gains achieved during treatment. Follow-up sessions or booster sessions are often recommended as needed to address any remaining symptoms or issues. As a result, EMDR offers an accelerated path to healing with built-in follow up care to ensure each client maintains their progress after completing their time in treatment.

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Why Does EMDR Work for Trauma?

How does simply moving your eyes back and forth treat trauma? It may seem strange on the surface, but because of how our brains and memories work, it acts as an effective treatment for trauma. This is because vision and memory are closely intertwined.

When you and your therapist begin talking about a traumatic memory, you will likely begin to form mental images of what happened. At this point, most people suffering from PTSD reflexively experience a fight-or-flight response as a subconscious form of self-protection. Unfortunately, this can make it incredibly difficult to remain present long enough to process and heal from the traumatic experience.

According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, when a therapist then engages in bilateral stimulation, it helps reduce the vividness of traumatic memories. They aren’t as sharp and life-like as before. The most progress was made when people held the traumatic memory at the forefront of their minds while treatment occurred. Through repeated sessions, those memories can fade even further, hopefully to the point where they no longer cause stress, anxiety, or fear.

It is important to note that EMDR isn’t a standalone treatment for trauma. A trauma recovery plan from the team at South Coast Behavioral Health often includes other evidence-based and holistic treatment options for a well-rounded approach to recovery. Psychotherapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy, along with holistic practices like meditation, yoga, and adventure therapy, can all aid in recovery from trauma. 

EMDR For Veterans

Trauma associated with combat is something many veterans bring home with them. Flashbacks from their time on the battlefield can cause issues after returning to civilian life. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs recognizes EMDR as an effective treatment for PTSD. It helps dull the painful memories that can linger long after combat. As these memories fade, symptoms of PTSD should become less debilitating and more easily managed through counseling.

A comparative study of EMDR approaches published in the National Library of Medicine found that veterans with PTSD undergoing EMDR once per week had similarly effective results to those who underwent the treatments twice per day for ten days. Outpatient care is one program where once-per-week EMDR treatments could be part of someone’s treatment plan. The flexibility of outpatient treatment means you can still attend work and school or fulfill family obligations while following a regular treatment schedule created by your therapy team. At South Coast, we aim to provide trauma treatment for veterans that suits your needs. 

Can EMDR Therapists in Orange County Help Me?

By working with an EMDR therapist in Orange County, you can receive ongoing support and guidance as you navigate your healing journey. Your therapist will work with you to identify triggers and develop coping strategies while also helping you work through any unresolved trauma that may be impacting your daily life.

EMDR therapists in Orange County can help you in several ways if you are struggling with trauma or other distressing life experiences, such as:

  • Processing Traumatic Memories: EMDR therapy helps your brain process these traumatic memories. It reduces their lingering effects on your mental health. Through bilateral stimulation), EMDR therapy helps to access and process traumatic memories and bring about adaptive resolution.
  • Reducing Emotional Distress: By reprocessing the memory of the event, EMDR therapy aims to reduce the emotional distress linked to it. It helps desensitize your body’s reaction to the traumatic or triggering stimuli, making the memory less disturbing and reducing the emotional response.
  • Changing Negative Beliefs: EMDR therapy involves identifying and challenging negative beliefs about oneself, which are often linked to the traumatic event. The therapist helps you form positive beliefs to replace these negative ones, which leads to improved self-esteem and personal beliefs about yourself.
  • Decreasing Symptoms of PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression: EMDR is effective in treating symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. It can help decrease or dismiss symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts.
  • Improving Daily Functioning: By addressing the root causes of your distress, EMDR therapy can help improve your functioning in daily life. This includes better relationships, increased work performance, and a greater ability to engage with and enjoy life.


It’s important to remember that therapy outcomes vary among individuals. EMDR can provide a practical approach to PTSD treatment for those looking to overcome the effects of trauma.

How To Find a Good EMDR Therapist in Orange County

If you are considering seeking help from an EMDR therapist in Orange County, know that there are many skilled practitioners who specialize in a variety of areas, such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression. They can also work with clients of all ages, from children to adults.

To find a good EMDR therapist, it’s important to look for a licensed professional trained in EMDR. They will be able to assess your specific situation and tailor your treatment plan to meet your specific needs and goals. A certified EMDR therapist will also provide a safe and supportive environment for you to share your experiences without fear of judgment.

As a professional trained in trauma-informed care, they understand how trauma can impact individuals and are equipped to guide you through the healing process. Additionally, they can provide resources and tools to help you manage any symptoms or challenges that may arise during your therapy sessions.

If you have experienced trauma or are struggling with symptoms related to past events, seeking support from an EMDR therapist in Orange County could greatly benefit your well-being. With their expertise and compassionate care, you can begin to heal and move forward toward a healthier and happier life. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help – EMDR therapy could be the key to unlocking a brighter future.

Where Can I Find EMDR Therapy in Southern California?

Asking for help is the first step in recovery from trauma. Trying to ignore the symptoms of PTSD or deal with it on your own can lead to far worse problems. Often, people turn to alcohol and drugs in an attempt to self-medicate or numb the pain.

When trauma turns to addiction, South Coast Behavioral Health is uniquely prepared to help you heal. Our integrative approach utilizes dual diagnosis treatment to address substance use and mental health disorders at the same time. During treatment, you can work with our EMDR-certified therapists to fully process and heal from the damaging effects of PTSD.

You don’t have to live with the effects of painful, vivid memories of past trauma. There are safe and effective EMDR therapy options in Orange County that are ready to help you start healing today. Our team is available to provide unparalleled guidance and support as you take the necessary steps to heal from trauma. Call us today at (866) 881-1184 to learn more about how our Orange County EMDR treatment center can help.

Pierce Willans
Kelly McIntyre
Medically Reviewed by Kelly McIntyre, MS, LMFT
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