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MBSR and EMDR Therapy: The Perfect Union

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy are two evidence-based approaches that have been found to be effective in addressing a range of mental health concerns. While both approaches are distinct in their techniques and goals, they can work well together to enhance therapeutic outcomes.

MBSR is a mindfulness-based intervention that aims to reduce stress and promote well-being. Developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the late 1970s, MBSR has been used to help individuals cope with a range of physical and mental health concerns, including chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. MBSR involves the cultivation of mindfulness through various practices, including meditation, body awareness, and gentle movement. By focusing on the present moment, individuals can learn to observe their thoughts and feelings without judgment and develop a greater sense of self-awareness and emotional regulation.

EMDR therapy, on the other hand, is a trauma-focused therapy that aims to alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other traumatic experiences. EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s and involves a structured approach to processing traumatic memories. The therapy involves bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, tapping, or auditory tones, while the individual recalls the traumatic experience. This process is thought to facilitate the integration of the traumatic memory, reducing the distressing symptoms associated with the experience.

While MBSR and EMDR have different goals and techniques, they share common underlying principles, such as the importance of present moment awareness and the promotion of emotional regulation. Additionally, both approaches emphasize the role of the therapist-client relationship in promoting positive outcomes.

There are several ways in which MBSR and EMDR therapy can work well together. For individuals who have experienced trauma, MBSR can be a helpful adjunct to EMDR therapy. By cultivating mindfulness and emotional regulation skills, individuals can develop a greater sense of self-awareness and resilience, which can enhance the effectiveness of EMDR therapy. Additionally, MBSR can be used as a way to support individuals in between EMDR sessions, providing a way to cope with distressing emotions and promote well-being.

Incorporating mindfulness practices into EMDR therapy sessions can also be beneficial. By using mindfulness-based techniques, such as deep breathing or body scanning, individuals can calm their nervous system and increase their capacity for self-awareness, which can help to facilitate the processing of traumatic memories.

In conclusion, MBSR and EMDR therapy can work well together to enhance therapeutic outcomes. While these approaches have different goals and techniques, they share common principles and can be used to complement each other in the treatment of mental health concerns, particularly trauma-related symptoms. By incorporating mindfulness practices into EMDR therapy sessions and using MBSR as a way to support individuals in between sessions, therapists can provide a comprehensive approach to addressing the complex needs of their clients.


Interested in learning more about how EMDR and MBSR can help you? Schedule a free 15 min consult to learn more! With offices in Gilbert & Phoenix Arizona, our therapists are ready to help you achieve your limitless potential.


p: 480.448.1076



Gilbert Location: 2563 S. Val Vista Dr. Ste 108. Gilbert, AZ 8529

Phoenix Location: 1440 E. Missouri Ave. C270. Phoenix, AZ 85014

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