How EMDR Therapy Can Help You Overcome OCD

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on May 17, 2023
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Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide.

It is characterized by intrusive thoughts, images, or impulses that lead to compulsive behaviors. These repetitive behaviors can hurt individuals’ quality of life, relationships, and work.

Fortunately, EMDR virtual therapy has been proven to be an effective OCD treatment that addresses both the symptoms and underlying causes of the disorder.

The Online Mental Health Reviews team is qualified to write about EMDR therapy for OCD due to our background in mental health, belief in the intersection of technology and mental health, and mission to improve mental health decision-making and accessibility.

We have conducted extensive research on the subject, including an evaluation of EMDR’s efficacy for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

What is Virtual EMDR and Who For?

EMDR Therapy Quick Overview

1. Understanding EMDR Therapy

#1 Reason You Are still STUCK In OCD

EMDR (also known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy technique used to treat individuals who have experienced trauma. It works by stimulating the brain’s natural information-processing mechanisms through bilateral stimulation.

When used for OCD, it helps the individual access and process suppressed emotions and negative beliefs that contribute to their compulsive behavior.

2. How EMDR Therapy Tackles OCD

EMDR therapy helps individuals with OCD address and reduce the severity of their symptoms in a few key ways:

  • Helps individuals gain insight into the root causes of their OCD
  • Helps individuals process associated feelings such as other anxiety disorders, trauma, and depression
  • Provides a safe space for individuals to explore their OCD triggers without judgment
  • Encourages individuals to reframe their negative thoughts and beliefs into more positive ones
  • Helps individuals learn and utilize self-soothing techniques to manage stress and anxiety outside of therapy

3. Success Rates of EMDR Therapy

Multiple studies have shown that EMDR therapy is highly effective in reducing OCD symptoms and improving overall quality of life.

However, it is important to note that while EMDR may help treat OCD symptoms, it is not an evidence-based treatment for the disorder itself (yet). It may serve as a useful adjunct to CBT or Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), which are the primary evidence-based treatments for OCD.

In terms of EMDR and OCD science, a systematic review of EMDR treatment outcome studies reports1, “Despite the moderate evidence, EMDR clearly has clinical benefits, and meta-analytical findings particularly support the effectiveness of EMDR within anxiety and depression”.

Overall, preliminary research suggests that EMDR may be beneficial in reducing symptoms of OCD when used alongside other treatments such as ERP or CBT. More research is needed before EMDR can be considered an evidence-based treatment for OCD itself – although initial results are promising.

4. How EMDR Differs from Other Mental Health Approaches

EMDR is different from other therapy approaches such as CBT because EDMR does not require the client to talk, or medication. For example, the eye movement technique can be done without the client needing to say anything about what they are experiencing internally.

This unique approach means that EMDR is uniquely suited for people who cannot express themselves well or don’t feel safe enough sharing their traumatic memories.

5. Finding the Right EMDR Therapist

If you’re considering EMDR therapy for your OCD, it’s important to find a licensed therapist or OCD doctor who is specifically trained in this technique.

The EMDR International Association maintains a directory of OCD-trained professionals and certified therapists to help guide your search. Additionally, it’s important to find a therapist who you feel comfortable sharing your experiences with and who is willing to work collaboratively with you to achieve your goals.

How does EMDR help intrusive thoughts?

Studies have shown that EMDR can be effective in reducing intrusive thoughts and imagery associated with OCD.

EMDR works by helping the person identify and challenge the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their mental health issues.

  • It also helps create a safe place in the mind for the person to go back to when they are feeling overwhelmed.
  • It can also help people feel more in control of their thoughts and emotions.
  • Techniques used in EMDR include eye movements, tapping, or sound stimulation which help the person focus on their memories or feelings related to their intrusive thoughts.

If you are considering using EMDR for intrusive thoughts, it is important to find a therapist who is experienced in this type of therapy. A qualified therapist will be able to guide you through the process and provide support as you work through your intrusive thoughts.

Overall, EMDR can be an effective treatment for intrusive thoughts and other mental health issues such as OCD. If you are struggling with intrusive thoughts, consider talking to a qualified therapist about whether this type of therapy could be right for you.

Evidence and Research Supporting the Effectiveness of EMDR for Treating OCD

Studies have found that EMDR can be effective in reducing symptoms of OCD such as anxiety, depression, obsessions, and compulsions.

  • One study compared EMDR to the antidepressant citalopram and found that both treatments were effective in improving obsessive–compulsive symptoms.
  • Other studies have shown that EMDR can be as effective as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in treating Recurrent Depressive Disorder.
  • A 2020 randomized controlled trial3 compared EMDR with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) as potential treatments for OCD. The results showed that both 30.2% of those who received EMDR attained reliable and clinically significant improvement in OCD symptoms. While 30% may seem low, it’s actually pretty high once you consider other factors.

It is important to note that the success rate of EMDR for OCD varies from person to person, and it is not a guaranteed cure. It may be necessary to combine EMDR with other forms of therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Exposure Response Prevention, to achieve the best results.

Potential Costs of EMDR Therapy for Treating OCD Symptoms

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is an effective treatment for OCD symptoms. It can help reduce anxiety, depression, and intrusive thoughts associated with OCD.

The cost of EMDR therapy varies depending on the therapist and location.

Generally, the cost of a single session in the United States ranges from $75 to $250 per hour.

Potential Risk Associated with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for Managing OCD

Although EMDR is generally considered safe, there are potential risks associated with it. These risks include feeling overwhelmed or triggered by the memories being processed during the therapy session. It’s important to discuss any concerns you may have about EMDR with your therapist before beginning treatment.

Tips on locating an experienced specialist in EMDR therapy

  • Search the EMDRIA’s “Find an EMDR Therapist Directory” ( to find a therapist in your area who is experienced in providing EMDR therapy.
  • Consider factors such as experience, qualifications, and specializations when selecting a therapist.
  • Make sure that the therapist you choose is experienced in treating OCD with EMDR.
  • Ask your therapist about their approach to EMDR therapy and what you can expect from treatment.
  • Be aware of potential risks associated with EMDR therapy, such as side effects or myths about the treatment process.

How Talkspace and Insurance Cover Online Therapy for OCD

Talkspace is a well-known online therapy tool that helps people with mental health problems like OCD and others. The app gets people in touch with licensed therapists who can help with OCD and other mental health issues.

Talkspace wants to make it easier and cheaper for more than 40 million Americans with health insurance to get mental health care. The app offers personalized treatment plans that may include medicine, as well as easy-to-use ways to talk, such as texting, phone, and video sessions.

In our Talkspace online review, we talk about what it was like to buy the service and share records of our therapy and medication sessions with a Talkspace therapist and doctor. We were moved to tears by what the doctor said.

But it is important to remember that Talkspace might not be the best choice for everyone. People whose biggest worry is anxiety or depression may do better with other tools or treatments, like Brightside Health. It’s important to think about your own wants and preferences when choosing an online therapy service.

What to Expect from EMDR Therapy, Including Techniques Used and Length of Treatment

A course of EMDR therapy typically consists of eight phases.

  1. During the initial phase, your therapist will ask you about your history and develop a treatment plan for you.
  2. The second phase involves preparing you for the EMDR process by educating you on how it works and what to expect during the session.
  3. In the third phase, your therapist will assess your current state and identify any areas where EMDR can be beneficial.
  4. The fourth phase is called desensitization and reprocessing. This is when the actual eye movement part of the therapy begins. Your therapist will ask you to focus on a specific memory or thought while they guide your eyes back and forth using hand movements or sound cues like tapping or tones. This helps to break up negative patterns in your brain associated with memory or thought.
  5. The fifth phase is installation, which focuses on replacing negative thoughts with positive ones related to the memory or thought being processed.
  6. The sixth phase involves a body scan, which helps identify any physical sensations associated with the memory or thought being processed.
  7. The seventh phase is closure, which allows time for processing any new insights gained from the session before ending it.
  8. Finally, in the eighth phase, your therapist will review what was discussed in the session and provide further guidance if needed before concluding it.

Average Length of EMDR Treatment

A course of EMDR therapy typically lasts anywhere from 8-12 sessions depending on individual needs; however, some people may require more sessions than others depending on their situation.

During each session, techniques such as eye movements, sound cues, tapping, or tones are used to help break up negative patterns in your brain associated with traumatic memories or thoughts so that they can be processed more effectively.

Who Would be Best Suited for EMDR Therapy

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is a type of psychotherapy that can be used to treat trauma, PTSD, anxiety, and panic. It is considered one of the best treatments for these conditions.

Generally speaking, people who are dealing with intense traumatic memories or have experienced a traumatic event may be good candidates for EMDR therapy.

Remember, EMDR is best suited for persons who find it difficult to explain themselves or who don’t feel comfortable expressing their terrible experiences because of this novel technique.

Alternative Therapies Available to Those with OCD, Such as Meditation, Somatic Experiencing, or Creative Therapies

If you’re living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), there are a variety of alternative therapies available to help manage your symptoms.

Meditation, somatic experience, and creative therapies are all viable options for those looking to supplement traditional treatments.

  1. Meditation is a practice that involves focusing on the present moment and calming the mind. It can be done in a variety of ways, such as guided meditation or mindfulness-based stress reduction. Research has found that it can reduce anxiety levels and improve overall mental health. Try Headspace’s free 2-week trial for training in mindfulness meditation which has been shown to help with stress and sleep.
  2. Somatic experiencing is another alternative therapy for OCD. This type of therapy focuses on the body’s physical response to stress-reducing anxiety and trauma, helping people to process their emotions in a safe environment. It can also help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression associated with OCD.
  3. Creative therapies are another option for those with OCD. These types of therapies involve activities such as art, music, or dance to help people positively express themselves. Creative therapies can help people gain insight into their thoughts and feelings, which can lead to improved mental health outcomes.
  4. Mindfulness practice and Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) are also important components of treatment for OCD. Mindfulness practice helps people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings without judgment, while ERP helps them confront their fears and anxieties related to their obsessions and rituals.
  5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps people learn how to manage their obsessive thoughts, and behaviors related to their OCD. In addition, it can also be used in combination with medication, such as Citalopram, which has been found to have a significant effect on improving obsessive signs. Brightside Health (save $50 first month) offers what is in our opinion the best CBT online therapy + medication plan for anxiety and depression evidence-based mental health management.

No matter what type of alternative therapy you choose, it’s important to remember that it probably should be used in conjunction with traditional, evidence-based treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication.

Working with your doctor or therapist will ensure that you get the best possible care for your condition.

Steps Towards Self-Healing, Including Setting Boundaries and Practicing Self-Care for Those Struggling with OCD

If you are struggling with OCD, it can be difficult to take the steps towards self-healing. However, setting boundaries and practicing self-care can help you make progress.

  1. The first step is to recognize that you need help and decide that you are ready to try self-healing. This can be a difficult decision, but it is an important one to start the process of healing.
  2. Once you have decided to begin your journey of self-healing, there are a few things that you can do to get started. One of the most important things is to become aware of your breath. Taking time each day to sit in a comfortable position and tools that help you focus on your breathing can help bring clarity and peace into your life.
  3. It is also important to practice self-care by taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Eating well and mindfully, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, listening to podcasts or music that inspires you, and writing love letters to yourself – these are all ways that you can practice self-care and start the healing process. If you struggle with sleep, you may want to see what Udemy’s most popular sleep masterclass can teach you in your quest for a good night’s sleep.
  4. Setting boundaries is another key part of self-healing for those with OCD. It is important to know what triggers your symptoms so that you can avoid them or find ways to cope with them when they arise. You should also set boundaries with others so that they understand how their behavior affects you and respect your needs as much as possible.
  5. Finally, don’t forget about forgiveness – both forgiving yourself for any mistakes or setbacks along the way and forgiving others who may have hurt or wronged you in some way. Forgiveness will help free up energy so that it can be used for healing instead of being stuck in negative emotions such as anger or resentment.

These are just a few steps towards self-healing for those struggling with OCD; there are many more out there depending on what works best for each person’s situation. With dedication and perseverance, it is possible to make progress on this journey of healing oneself from within!

Can I try out EMDR before paying?

Virtual EMDR’s 3-day free trial gives people a place to try EMDR online in a safe and secure setting. You’ll get access to a quality platform that guides you through EMDR exercises through unique step-by-step virtual tools.

You can try EMDR for free for 3 days to see what it’s all about and decide if it’s the right method for you. With this free version, users can try out the different EMDR methods and find the one that works best for them, or at least get a taste of EMDR in a professional setting.

But because trauma is so sensitive, it’s probably best for you in the long run to find a therapist or other health care provider near you who can see you in person. Even so, Virtual EMDR is a great place to start if you want to try EDMR.

Free Resources Available for OCD Struggles

If you’re struggling with OCD, there are many free resources available to help.

  • The International OCD Foundation provides educational resources, including websites, blogs, and podcasts. OCDChallenge is a free online interactive program designed to help people suffering from OCD.
  • TreatMyOCD also offers 11 online resources to treat OCD, such as helplines and support groups. PsychCentral has an OCD Resource Directory with information on helplines and local NAMI chapters for support groups.
  • The Peace of Mind Foundation offers a free online self-help website for individuals suffering from OCD, called OCD Challenge. The Sheppard Pratt Health System also has recommended resources for those struggling with OCD, such as self-help books and articles about overcoming the disorder.
  • Finally, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Resource Center provides information on treatment options and other helpful resources for those dealing with OCD in children and adolescents.

EMDR Therapy for OCD Conclusion:

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a challenging mental health condition, but with the right treatment, it can be managed and overcome.

EMDR therapy has shown impressive results in helping individuals with OCD gain insight into negative thought patterns and current triggers, process underlying emotions, and develop self-soothing techniques to manage symptoms outside of therapy.

If you’re interested in exploring this treatment option for yourself, take comfort in knowing that there is hope and effective treatment available.

For further reading, check these articles about how EMDR therapy works, where to find, EMDR insurance, benefits, pros and cons, login info, EMDR training, and EMDR for OCD. For online, virtual self-EMDR, see our Virtual EMDR review.

Our team invites you to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Let us know which mental health software products, apps, or courses that Online Mental Health Reviews should explore and review next.


  1. Scelles, C., & Bulnes, L. C. (2021, September 20). EMDR as Treatment Option for Conditions Other Than PTSD: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in Psychology, 12.
  2. Cusimano, A. (2018, November). EMDR in the Treatment of Adolescent Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Case Study. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 12(4), 242–254.
  3. Marsden, Z., Lovell, K., Blore, D., Ali, S., & Delgadillo, J. (2017, July 28). A randomized controlled trial comparing EMDR and CBT for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 25(1), e10–e18.

If You Are In Crisis

If you are in a crisis, it may not be safe to wait for an online therapy appointment. Now, if you need help right away, call 911. Plans to hurt yourself or others are part of this. You can call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 if you are thinking about hurting yourself. Help is available 24/7.

You can also call 800-662-HELP, which is the number for the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (4357). The SAMHSA line is a free, confidential service that helps people with mental or substance abuse disorders find treatment and get information about it 24/7, 365 days a year.

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