EMDR Therapy


EMDR Therapists Chicago

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) was developed by an American psychologist named Francine Shapiro who in 1987 made the chance observation that moving her eyes from side to side reduced the distress of negative thoughts and memories.  This experience led her to examine this phenomenon more systemically. She developed standardized procedures to maximize therapeutic outcomes, conducted additional research, and a published controlled study.

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR is an evidence based treatment that is used to heal from traumatic memories. Unlike traditional talk based therapies, EMDR uses eye movements to bilaterally stimulate the brain to process and resolve the traumatic event by unblocking the emotions and reprogramming the mental processes of the brain.  High arousal states from adverse life experiences may result in disruptions to the information processing system, leading to memories that are inadequately processed and maladaptively stored in state-specific form.EMDR uses a three pronged approach: the traumatic memory and associated beliefs are accessed and processed using new, adaptive information; current triggers are desensitized; and future events are re-imagined in a peaceful, capable, and functional manner.  EMDR is effective with singular traumas, or complex, repeated traumas. It may be used for recent traumatic events, or events from childhood. EMDR can help heal the emotional distress, cognitive beliefs, and physiological responses associated with trauma. 

​If you are specifically interested in EDMR therapy, please contact one of our excellent EMDR therapist’s Emily Dawson, LCSW  or Chelsea Dillavou, LCSW to schedule an appointment.

Emily Dawson, LCSW EMDR Therapist Chicago
Emily Dawson, LCSW
EMDR Therapist Chicago


Chelsea Dillavou, LCSW EMDR Therapist Chicago
Chelsea Dillavou, LCSW
EMDR Therapist Chicago

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

When you have experienced a traumatic event, your brain may not be able to process information the way it normally does. This is because your nervous system goes into a reactive, or “triggered,” state. During EMDR sessions, your therapist will ask you to focus on a disturbing memory, emotion or body sensation, while at the same time applying bilateral stimulation (visual, audio or tactile) which repeatedly activates the right and left side of the brain. Bilateral stimulation assists the neurophysiological system to release emotional experiences that get “stuck” in the nervous system. Therapy involves rating your distress around the experience. You are fully awake during session and at no point are you asleep or in a trance. Clients who have been through EMDR therapy report the traumatic event to be less distressing to them following EMDR. It is a highly effective trauma therapy.

Check out this blog post for a simpler version of what you can expect during EMDR therapy sessions.

Curious how Reprocessing in EMDR Therapy works?

It’s widely accepted that EMDR “unlocks” the negative memories and emotions stored in the nervous system, and it helps the brain to adequately process the experience. “Reprocessing takes place when dual attention on a past memory, combined with bilateral stimulation, activates an associative process that allows relevant connections to be made. When reprocessing is successful, the previously disturbing memories are neutralized and effectively integrated with other similar experiences. What is useful is stored, available to inform future experiences; what is no longer adaptive is discarded, such as negative images, feelings, beliefs, etc.”

Francine Shapiro, PhD

Who can benefit from EMDR Therapy?

  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Depression
  • Attachment disorder
  • Conduct problems
  • Self-esteem
  • Grief and mourning
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Sexual dysfuncation
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraine headaches
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Medically unexplained physical symptoms
if you’re looking for an EMDR therapist in chicago, Cityscape counseling would love to work with you.

We know that seeking out therapy can be a daunting endeavor so we’re dedicated to helping you each step of the way. Start by calling or emailing us to set up your first appointment.