Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a specialized form of therapy designed to help you process and heal from traumatic memories.

Have you experienced disruption in your life?  Were you attacked, abused, left to survive a difficult situation, or experienced an event you can’t seem to get over? Have you found yourself at times:

  • Reliving the negative experience via flashbacks or nightmares?

  • Getting scared or panicky – even when things are safe?

  • Have difficulties sleeping?

  • Constantly on-edge and or alert?

  • Unable to shake the sadness or sense of hopelessness?

  • Unmotivated or even unable to engage in your life?


If so, you may be experiencing the after-effects of trauma, known as posttraumatic stress (sometimes referred to as PTSD). 


Although there are many forms of therapy for trauma, one of the most effective treatments is known as EMDR. This article is all about helping you learn more about EMDR, how it can help, and why I offer it as a specialty service


What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a specialized form of therapy designed to help you process and heal from traumatic memories. 


EMDR can look different from most psychotherapies. Your therapist will give you the task of focusing your gaze on a moving object, such as a light, while you talk about the story of the trauma. The eye movement creates an effect known as “bilateral stimulation,” which activates the ocular nerves and muscles to help tap into traumatic material from the brain so that it can be properly dealt with:

EMDR Diagram1.png

The pace of EMDR is also quite different in-session.  EMDR therapists (like me!) take time to pay attention to your emotional experience and stress level so that you do not feel overwhelmed.  This is important, as EMDR is known for “getting to the root” of the problem quickly so that you can begin to see results early in treatment. 


EMDR is particularly useful for processing intense traumatic life events, such as:


  • Being the victim of violence

  • Death of a loved one or a pet

  • Military combat experience

  • Childhood abuse or neglect

  • Serious health issues or near-death experiences

  • Vehicle accidents

  • Witnessing or experiencing domestic abuse

  • Sexual abuse, assault, or rape

  • Single incident event that was unexpected


If you or a loved one have experienced something traumatic and would like help moving forward, consider giving EMDR a try.  I provide EMDR services for people from all over San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland because I love helping others move past the past.  If you are ready to sign up for your first session or would like to learn more, contact me today.  To read about how EMDR addresses symptoms of trauma, read on!


How can EMDR help with my trauma?


When we experience a traumatic event, our minds try to protect us by helping us avoid similar situations.  This can emerge through painful reminders, reexperiencing through nightmares and flashbacks, and feeling fearful or tense in otherwise safe situations.

EMDR Diagram2.png

Over time, these experiences become “normal” as the brain begins to believe this is the best way to keep the body alive. 


The process of EMDR allows your brain a chance to understand, reprocess, and change those old patterns


As you learn to engage with difficult emotions and become desensitized to the deeper pain, the brain and body learn to disengage or “turn off” the survival strategies that cause symptoms of posttraumatic stress.

EMDR Diagram3.png

Once the traumatic memories are processed properly, people gain a great deal of freedom.  The brain learns to let down those defenses and move forward from being “stuck” in the past. 


This is why EMDR is such an effective treatment for PTSD and other issues that emerge after traumatic life events, and it is why I offer this specialty treatment for people from all over the San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland region – people just like you. 


If you are ready and interested in signing up for your first session, contact me today! 


What does EMDR therapy look like with Kristina Nakamura?


You don't have to let your pain and your fears continue to overwhelm you.  I can help you find the healing and restoration you deserve.


Each session is completely confidential and specifically designed to meet your goals.  During the first meeting, I will ask you questions about your story to get a sense of what might be contributing to the problem.  This also gives us a chance to get to know each other a bit better and answer any questions you might have before moving forward with therapy. 


EMDR is different from other therapies.  We will follow an eight phase, research-based process to help you reach your goals as effectively as possible:


  • Phase 1: History and Treatment Planning

    • We gather details from your story and begin to set targets for treatment

  • Phase 2: Preparation

    • We focus on developing trust and teamwork as you learn the theory of EMDR, how it works, and what to expect during and after treatment

  • Phase 3: Assessment

    • We analyze and measure each treatment target in a safe, controlled, and thorough manner

  • Phase 4: Desensitization

    • This phase focuses on your emotions and sensations through desensitization

  • Phase 5: Installation

    • This phase is all about replacing unhealthy, distorted, and painful thoughts and experiences with positive, helpful ones

  • Phase 6: Body scan

    • In this phase, we will train you to notice and address the physiological reactions to trauma, such as tension or a racing heart

  • Phase 7: Closure

    • Each session is designed to help you leave feeling better than when you came in, and so we work hard to wrap things up with closure

  • Phase 8: Reevaluation

    • At the beginning of subsequent sessions, we evaluate your progress and wellbeing to ensure that the treatment is effective


To learn more about these eight phases, check out the EMDR International Association’s website descriptions.


As you make progress in therapy for trauma, you will learn to:

  • Relax and sleep well

  • Find freedom from painful memories

  • Use coping strategies that actually work

  • Understand yourself on a deeper level

  • Put the past behind you and honor the present

  • Break free from unhealthy patterns

  • Be mindful and self-aware


You deserve to live a life that is happy, healthy, and worry-free. 


Together, I believe we can get you there. 




Interested in hearing more about my practice?  In addition to EMDR, I also provide individual therapy, couples counseling, and therapy for relational issues.  


Want to learn more about how I can help?  I would love to hear from you. 


Phone Number: 628-333-9775


San Francisco Office: 582 Market Street Suite 1108 | San Francisco | CA | 94104


Oakland Office: 2940 Summit St. | Oakland | CA | 94609


Berkeley Office: 1918 Bonita Ave | Berkeley | CA | 94704