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How EMDR Therapy works for Eating Disorders in Westchester, NY

Updated: Jan 12

EMDR Therapy and Eating Disorders from an Eating Disorder Therapist in Westchester, NY

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Working in the mental health world, we are always looking for new research and new methods to help clients recover and reach their goals. One therapeutic approach we use here at Peaceful Living in Scarsdale is EMDR therapy: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, in order to help our clients process their trauma and live their most authentic life.

As an emdr therapy eating disorder therapist in Westchester, I discuss trauma as an underlying cause to someone's eating disorder. I have integrated EMDR therapy into my work with clients struggling with eating disorders and have found great success. In this post, I will discuss how EMDR therapy and the treatment of Eating Disorders overlaps.

Navigating the Phases of EMDR Therapy:

The Eight-Phase Framework:

EMDR therapy unfolds systematically in eight phases, touching on client history, treatment planning, processing memories and integrating the new, adaptive information. This structured approach serves as a foundation for understanding how EMDR can be used in addressing the multifaceted challenges associated with eating disorders.

EMDR and Eating Disorders: A Complementary Approach

1. Addressing Trauma:

There is not one single cause to an eating disorder, however, for many who struggle with eating disorders in Westchester, at the core of many eating disorders lies a history of trauma. EMDR therapy serves as a powerful tool for processing and integrating these traumatic experiences, allowing individuals to gain insight into the roots of their disordered eating behaviors.

Understanding where their eating disorders comes from helps many clients in Westchester be able to replace behaviors with other, more beneficial ones in hopes of extinguishing their eating disorder completely.

2. Targeting Body Image and Self-Esteem Issues:

Negative self-beliefs and distorted body image often accompany eating disorders. EMDR facilitates the reprocessing of past experiences (which are called targets) and offers the individual the opportunity to create a more positive narrative about themselves.

Often times I discuss specific memories with clients where their self-image or body was attacked, shamed or picked on. These memories creates the foundation that the client is not good enough and can breed disordered behaviors.

3. Managing Triggers and Urges:

EMDR therapy assists individuals in identifying and managing triggers associated with disordered eating. With EMDR, we can desensitize the impact these triggers have on the client and increase the self regulation skills a client has to manage the trigger. In helping a client identify a list of triggers, we would look at different aspects of their life and look at the different behaviors they are using as emotion regulation.

4. Enhancing Coping Skills:

Building resilient coping strategies is fundamental to sustained recovery. EMDR supports individuals in developing healthier mechanisms to navigate stress, reducing reliance on disordered eating as a coping mechanism.

In EMDR therapy, we also look at the moments in a client's life that they used skills appropriately and strengthen the neural network to those coping tools in order to make them more automatic.

5. Improving Emotional Regulation:

Emotional regulation is a key facet of eating disorder recovery. EMDR facilitates the processing and integration of distressing emotions related to trauma or body image, contributing to the building and upkeep of adaptive emotional regulation skills.

Helping someone be more present in their body is a key component of EMDR therapy which can be extremely difficult for someone struggling with an eating disorder. This piece of the work is taken slowly in order for a client to feel more comfortable.

Tailoring EMDR to Individual Needs:

While EMDR is not a stand-alone treatment for eating disorders, its integration into an individualized treatment plan can be transformative, particularly for those with a history of trauma contributing to their eating disorder.

EMDR therapy very easily integrates with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and other mindfulness practices to make a seamless treatment for a client.

Conclusion: A Holistic Approach to Recovery

EMDR is an incredible asset to someone's eating disorder recovery in Westchester, NY. Seeking a trained EMDR therapist to add to your team, or finding an EMDR and eating disorder therapist near you, can be key in the next steps in someone's journey.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about EMDR, please reach out to us at Peaceful Living in Scarsdale. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out for help, you are deserving.


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Stephanie Polizzi is a licensed psychotherapist (LMHC) and eating disorder specialist in Scarsdale, NY at Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling, serving clients living in NY, NJ and FL.


Stephanie specializes in working with children, teens and adults struggling with anxiety, eating disorders, behavioral challenges, life transitions and trauma. 


Stephanie uses a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)and EMDR Therapy in her work with clients.


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