As someone who has struggled with depression for most of my adult life, I was always on the lookout for new therapies or treatments that could help me manage my symptoms. After some research, I came across Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, and I decided to give it a try. And let me tell you, although I was a little apprehensive, it was a great experience!

human eye close-up photography

I was immediately put at ease by the warm and welcoming environment. My therapist explained the process of EMDR therapy to me, and we began the session.

I guess there are different methods to approach it. But, during the therapy, my therapist guided me through a series of eye movements while I recalled past experiences that triggered my depression. I thought of the extreme grief that occurred when my mom passed away. I also thought about how much I simply miss growing up in my house as a kid.

Free Fox Young Fox photo and picture

To me, it’s funny, no one ever talks about leaving the nest egg, it seems like. But I remember as a kid, watching these movies where the mother fox would literally chase away the kid foxes. That seemed so sad to me. After all those years of playing, then she just turns on them.

Other animals don’t seem to give a crap. You see these birds just kick their young right out of the nest!

Anyway, as we progressed, I felt a shift in my emotions, and I strangely began to feel more in control of my thoughts and feelings. It was an incredibly empowering experience.

Over the course of several sessions, and of doing various concepts on this basic idea, I noticed a significant improvement in my mood and outlook on life. My depression symptoms started to lessen. That crazy weight that was on my shoulders just kind of lightened up. My wife noticed I stopped wanting to escape every two seconds.

And I just found myself feeling more, well, positive. Which is hard in these dark winter months of Missoula, right?

EMDR Benefits

One of the most significant benefits of EMDR therapy is that it can help with a wide range of mental health issues. In addition to depression, EMDR has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other trauma-related conditions. It’s a versatile therapy that can be tailored to the specific needs of each individual patient.

Another advantage of EMDR is that it’s a relatively short-term therapy. While the exact number of sessions needed will vary depending on the individual and the severity of their symptoms, many people start to see improvements after just a few sessions. This makes it a great option for people who are looking for a more immediate solution to their mental health struggles.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a type of psychotherapy that was developed in the late 1980s by Francine Shapiro, a psychologist who was studying the effects of eye movements on disturbing memories. Shapiro discovered that by moving her eyes back and forth rapidly while thinking about a traumatic experience, she was able to reduce the intensity of the negative emotions associated with the memory.

Based on this observation, Shapiro developed a structured protocol for EMDR therapy, which involves a series of steps that help patients process traumatic memories and other disturbing experiences. The therapy typically begins with the patient identifying a specific event or situation that is causing distress, and then rating the intensity of their emotional response to that event on a scale from 0 to 10.

Next, the therapist guides the patient through a series of bilateral eye movements, which can involve following a light or a hand movement, or listening to tones played through headphones that alternate between the left and right ears. During the eye movements, the patient is asked to focus on the distressing memory or thought, while also paying attention to any new thoughts, images, or sensations that come up.

After a set of eye movements, the therapist checks in with the patient to see how they are feeling and what they are experiencing. If there are still negative emotions or distress associated with the memory, the eye movements are repeated until the intensity of the emotions decreases.

Throughout the session, the therapist may also use other techniques, such as guided visualization or cognitive restructuring, to help the patient reframe negative thoughts or beliefs and develop more positive coping strategies.

person about to touch the calm water

One of the key theories behind EMDR therapy is that traumatic experiences can become “stuck” in the brain, causing persistent distress and negative emotions. By engaging in bilateral eye movements and other sensory input, EMDR therapy is believed to help the brain process and integrate these memories in a way that reduces their emotional impact.

While EMDR therapy was originally developed to treat PTSD and other trauma-related conditions, it has since been used to help people with a wide range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, phobias, and addiction. It is a recognized treatment option by the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Reach out today

If you’re looking for EMDR therapy in Missoula, MT, I highly recommend Sunflower Counseling MT. The team there is incredibly knowledgeable and compassionate, and they create a safe and supportive space for their patients to heal.

Overall, EMDR therapy has been a game-changer for me in managing my depression. My kids noticed that I seem to be showing up more, too. It’s a powerful and effective therapy that can help people overcome a wide range of mental health issues. If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or other trauma-related conditions, I encourage you to consider EMDR therapy as a possible solution.

John Michaels is a local Missoula author who graduated from Brown University in creative writing. In between raising kids, he spends his time meandering around downtown Missoula – writing screenplays, playing music, and working at Sunflower Counseling, MT.