EMDR and Grief

Asma Rehman, LPC

In our Grief Recovery Center in Houston, TX we often see clients who deal with trauma and emotional distress on a daily basis. This type of experience is not healthy for anyone trying to move forward with carrying on with their lives.

Any event that had traumatized your emotional wellbeing in the past can make it overwhelmingly impossible to put your foot forward to heal. When a distressing experience or a disturbance cause your mental capacity to be overloaded, your mind can freeze in that experience, making it impossible to process it. Later on down the road, because you have not yet treated the traumatic experience, any trigger can remind you of the event. As the trigger brings you back to the exact moment of disturbance, you recall the distress you felt, and you end up reliving the pain and negative images all over again.

There is a multitude of therapy strategies available to remedy this emotional distress. However, our experienced counselors have found that EMDR and Grief sessions have worked really well with our clients.

If you are wondering what EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is, it is a form of psychotherapy technique that is unique to helping individuals dissociate distress from memories of traumatic events. In EMDR and Grief therapy sessions, our licensed counselors will help you naturally cope with the unsettling feelings and anxieties, while learning strategies to heal correctly.

What Can EMDR treat?


EMDR was initially founded by Dr. Francine Shapiro to conquer any disruptive and negative thoughts. Since its founding, EMDR has been utilized by therapists to relieve individuals with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma, anxiety, addictions, depression, and other complicated types of grief.

While controversial, many of our clients have found their EMDR and grief sessions to be used for other types of ailments as well as sleep problems, phobias, panic disorders, and stress. The goal of EMDR and grief strategies are to allow our clients to take specific emotions about past memories and positively address them to improve their emotional health.

What is the Connection between EMDR and Grief?

Grieving and mourning the loss of a loved one can usually elicit a wide range of emotions. As such, it is not uncommon to feel anger, shock, and sadness all at the same moment. When these emotions get out of hand, however, it can enter the stages of becoming complicated or traumatic grief. Traumatic grief can occur when the loss was unexpected, or the event surrounding the loss was distressing.

All-consuming anger can be an issue that dominates your life. Consider taking anger management classes in Houston to learn how to control your emotions better and live a happier life!

In the event of a client experiencing complicated grief that cannot be resolved with conventional psychotherapy, EMDR strategies are implemented. As a part of the healing process to help the client ease into their grief recovery, the EMDR and grief approach work at unlocking the negative thoughts and intense physical feelings so that the trauma can actually be processed.

During a therapy session using EMDR and grief strategies, the goal of our experienced counselors is to help the client fully manage experiences that negatively impacted them in the past. All emotions and thoughts are put on the table to be sorted out, and strategies are implemented to replace any disturbances with positivity. This can also allow the counselor to encourage healthy coping instead of being stuck to the reliving the trauma again.

What Should You Expect from an EMDR and Grief Therapy Session?

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In an EMDR and grief therapy session, you should expect to get worse before you can get better. This is because the courses require you to face your anxieties surrounding the traumatic experience head-on. Fortunately, you will be in the presence of a professional who can control the experience to minimize the trauma being relived. Ultimately, you should come to expect the below during a session EMDR for grief:

  • Expect your sessions to last a minimum 60 minutes where you will be awake and alert during the entire treatment. You will be present during the session as this is not a hypnosis session, and you will have total control to pause, stop, or end the session entirely if needed.
  • The therapist will teach you relaxation techniques to help you cope with the recall before and after the session.
  • Treatment plan options will be discussed and explained in detail so that you may establish trust with the therapist.
  • Be prepared to acknowledge past histories and to recall the disturbing thought or memory and the emotions that come along with that event.
  • You don’t necessarily have to disclose in full detail the traumatic experience, but you will need to be able to communicate the emotions and negative thoughts attached to it that is relevant to your treatment plan.
  • As you recall the painful feelings and thoughts, your therapist will engage you in the EMDR exercise. Your eyes will follow the therapist’s back and forth movements with their finger or some type of instrument briefly followed by a blank or positive thought or feeling to replace the unsettling feeling you had.
  • During the first couple of tries, you may experience some anxieties that may be overwhelming because of the intensity of the trauma you are reliving. However, the intense feelings should subside as the procedure is repeated.
  • Your therapist may or may not repeat the treatment in subsequent therapy sessions, but you can be assured that they will follow up with an assessment of whether the traumatic recall will draw on negative feelings again. If so, a follow up devoted to reinforcing positive feelings and thoughts will be repeated.

Are You Interested in Learning More About EMDR and Grief Therapy Sessions?

EMDR and grief therapy have been utilized by our therapists with valid results in the past. However, no single plan can be the “end-all, be-all” cure for any emotional distress. Many of our clients have found significance in combining several therapy treatments with EMDR and Grief sessions for their healing process. If you are interested in learning more about it, don’t hesitate to let us know. You can contact us at the Grief Recovery Center in Houston, TX for more info today.

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