EMDR Therapy for Veterans

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Veterans often find they are limited to a few options for PTSD treatment. Unfortunately, for up to 20 percent of PTSD sufferers, traditional treatment options, like medications, don’t work to reduce symptoms. In addition, therapy isn’t always enough on its own. Thus, Sunrise Veterans is proud to offer EMDR therapy for veterans. This effectively treats the symptoms of their PTSD. Last but not least, this allows them to find a more complete recovery from their trauma.

What is EMDR Therapy?

emdr therapy for veterans
Cropped shot of mature psychologist smiling, shaking hands with middle aged military man after therapy session. Soldier suffering from depression, psychological trauma. PTSD concept. Focus on hands

EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It is a type of mental health treatment that uses lights or objects to alter eye movements. While traditional psychotherapy approaches involve discussing a traumatic event, EMDR focuses on the emotions brought on by trauma.

Therefore, by continuously processing these memories, the brain is able to heal naturally. It reduces these strong feelings of distress. Additionally, EMDR therapy allows veterans to process these traumatic memories in a safe and comfortable environment.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

Numerous studies have established that EMDR for veterans is a safe and effective option to treat their symptoms. All in all, it lessens the effect of trauma. There seems to be a connection between our eye movements and how we process, think, and feel about traumatic memories. Thus, by reprocessing trauma, therapists are able to help reduce the effect it has on a person’s mental health.

The therapist will accomplish this by having the person focus on their traumatic memory. Then, at the same time, they use a light or small object to alter eye movements. As the brain repeatedly processes these memories, the emotional responses decline, minimizing distress. As a result, these traumatic memories will have less impact on one’s mental well-being. EMDR therapy allows people to return to their daily life.

What Conditions Does EMDR Therapy Treat?

EMDR therapy is an extensively researched and effective psychotherapy method. It helps people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences. Furthermore, it can be an important component of addiction and mental health treatment.

The conditions that EMDR therapy treats include:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic Disorders

EMDR therapy has been shown to be effective in treating combat-related trauma, sexual abuse, and childhood trauma. Additionally, it has helped life-threatening accidents, and symptoms related to substance abuse.

How Effective is EMDR Therapy for Veterans?

Many believe EMDR therapy to be one of the best treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Thus many organizations, including the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Psychiatric Association, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) endorse it.

Side Effects of EMDR Therapy

Because EMDR is not a medication, it does not have obvious or predictable side effects. Therefore, doctors generally consider EMDR therapy to be safe, with fewer adverse reactions than medications for depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

Even so, the side effects of EMDR therapy are similar to those of other forms of psychotherapy. These side effects include:

  • An increase in distressing memories and the surfacing of new traumatic memories
  • Heightened emotions or physical sensations during sessions
  • Lightheadedness
  • Vivid dreams

Fortunately, side effects of EMDR therapy resolve themselves as treatment goes on. Patients should let their therapist know about any side effects of their EMDR therapy. Lastly, they should notify them of any new memories that come to the surface.

Symptoms of PTSD in Veterans

It is estimated that up to half of all veterans with PTSD never receive a formal diagnosis. This is mostly because of the stigma still sometimes attached to seeking treatment for mental health problems. Without appropriate treatment, PTSD symptoms aren’t going to get better, and may in fact get worse.

Unfortunately, the veteran suicide rate has been increasing since the early 2000s. Given that PTSD is a major factor in these deaths, it is crucial to identify symptoms of this disorder. Though some indicators might resemble that of anxiety and depression disorders, there are several key differences that set PTSD apart.

These include:

  • Reliving past trauma through nightmares or flashbacks
  • Having problems sleeping due to nightmare or night terrors
  • Avoiding people, places, situations, or activities that trigger trauma
  • Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Spending more time alone, and less time with friends and loved ones
  • Experiencing feelings of self-hatred, guilt, shame, or hopelessness
  • Having intense, inappropriate reactions to things people say or do
  • Issues controlling your anger
  • Using drugs or alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate your symptoms
  • Suffering from depression, anxiety, or chronic pain


What makes PTSD so difficult for people to deal with is that it makes them relive their traumatic experiences. This can come in the form of nightmares or flashbacks. Oftentimes, PTSD leads to mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Those suffering from PTSD will be glad to find that EMDR was in fact created specifically to treat this condition. EMDR helps people with PTSD, especially veterans, to reduce the impact that their trauma has on their lives. This, in turn, helps to reduce their mental health symptoms. 

Benefits of EMDR for Veterans

EMDR presents a valuable and innovative option to help veterans get their life back on track. Additionally, it is effective for veterans who have developed a drug or alcohol addiction as a result of their symptoms. Some veterans find traditional treatments like prescribed medications and therapy help in reducing their PTSD symptoms. Nevertheless, EMDR has many unique benefits.

These include:

  • Reducing the effect of traumatic experiences
  • Lessening the intensity of PTSD symptoms
  • Counteracting the negative thoughts and emotions caused by PTSD
  • Helping assimilate to civilian life
  • Improving overall quality of life

Begin EMDR Therapy at Sunrise Veterans Health

At Sunrise Veterans, we specialize in treating those who have served our country. We understand just how unique everyone’s experiences are, as well as how complex mental health care needs can be. Our range of treatment options is available in order to best address individual needs and symptoms. Additionally, our treatment takes into account how military service has shaped the way people think, feel, and react to situations.

If you are suffering from PTSD and traditional treatment options have not helped significantly reduce your symptoms, then EMDR therapy may be right for you. Visit our admissions page to get started right away or contact us to schedule your initial consultation. To speak with one of our experienced and dedicated team members call (866) 877-8288.

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