Hope For The Journey

Understanding the
EMDR Window of
Tolerance and Its
Significance in
PTSD Treatment

Understanding the EMDR Window of Tolerance and Its Significance in PTSD Treatment

If you have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), you may feel like your emotions are all over the place. You may go from feeling numb and disconnected from the world to feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and fear. Sometimes it might make sense why a memory was triggered. Other times, you might not have any idea that a memory is being triggered at all. You just suddenly feel emotions and body sensations flooding you. 

The experience can be very frustrating, and it may even seem like there is no way out. However, there is hope, and a type of therapy that is gaining popularity in recent times is proving to be highly effective in treating PTSD. This therapy is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). In this blog, we will talk about the EMDR window of tolerance and its significance in PTSD treatment.


What is EMDR?

Before we dive into what EMDR window of tolerance is and how it affects PTSD treatment, let us first understand what EMDR is. EMDR is a therapy that uses bilateral stimulation to help individuals process traumatic experiences. What in the world is bilateral stimulation? Great question! It involves guided eye movements, or tapping, or audio/electronic stimulation, that essentially gets your brain’s attention left and right, left and right. After proper preparation, this simple and painless exercise is used while the therapist asks the individual to recall a traumatic or still painful event. This tapping or other forms of bilateral stimulation helps to bridge the left and right sides of the brain, which can improve emotional regulation and help to process traumatic memories.


What is the EMDR Window of Tolerance?

Now, let us move on to the EMDR window of tolerance. The window of tolerance is a term used to describe the optimal intensity of emotions in which an individual can efficiently and safely process traumatic memories. It is the zone in which an individual is able to feel their feelings, but not get overwhelmed or disconnected from their feelings. In this zone, people are able to effectively address traumatic experiences into their long-term memory without being overly distressed or triggering a dissociated (or disconnected, numbed out) state. It is a balance between having positive emotions and processing memories related to negative emotions.

What Should I Know About my Window of Tolerance?

In PTSD, the individual may have a narrow or a wide window of tolerance. A narrow window of tolerance means that the individual may experience emotional distress more easily. As such, they are more likely to become triggered by things that are associated with traumatic events. On the other hand, a narrow window of tolerance can also mean that the individual may have numbed themselves too much to the point where they may not be experiencing any emotions at all.

A wide window of tolerance means that an individual can tolerate talking about and remembering hard things. This skill is crucial for successful EMDR processing that is safe and effective. It is also something that can and should be developed in treatment prior to starting work on traumatic memories. 

Through the use of EMDR, the therapist can help the patient expand their window of tolerance. This expansion allows the patient to manage their emotions effectively and keep them in the optimal zone. Expanding the window of tolerance not only leads to more positive experiences but also increases their resilience in dealing with stressful situations.

The EMDR window of tolerance is a crucial framework for EMDR therapists to work with to optimize therapeutic progress. When incorporating the window of tolerance into EMDR treatment, therapists can focus on facilitating emotional regulation, cognitive restructuring, and physical grounding. They may introduce coping mechanisms to improve the individual’s capacity to manage heightened emotional states and help the individual recognize their own warning signs.


EMDR has been an effective choice for the treatment of PTSD, and it is essential to understand the EMDR window of tolerance, and how its significance plays a major role in the treatment process. It helps individuals to manage their emotional responses to traumatic experiences and effectively process them without feeling triggered or disassociated. Expanding the window of tolerance is a crucial factor in EMDR treatment, and it makes individuals more resilient in dealing with future stressors. Hopefully, this blog helps you understand the importance of the EMDR window of tolerance and how this knowledge can bring you closer to finding hope and a way out of PTSD symptoms.

Our EMDR training goes above and beyond for our therapists enabling us to provide the best care to our clients.

At Hope For The Journey, our EMDR therapists receive regular, ongoing supervision and training.

  • EMDR Basic Training
  • Follow Up Consultation towards EMDR Training
  • Weekly supervision group
  • EMDR Certification Consultation
  • In-house Access to an EMDRIA Approved Consultant-In-Training
  • Dissociation/Complex Trauma Supervision

Begin Therapy in Round Rock, TX, Austin, TX and Across Texas

Our team of caring therapists are here to help with your PTSD healing journey through EMDR therapy. To start therapy with Hope For the Journey, please follow these simple steps:

  1. Contact Hope for the Journey
  2. Meet with a caring therapist
  3. Receive the support you need to start healing and thriving.

Other Services Offered At Hope For The Journey

Our team is happy to offer a number of services from our Round Rock and Austin therapy offices. Mental health services include therapy for anxiety and depressiondomestic violencesexual assaultPTSD, and EMDR. Our team also provides support for family members of all ages with counseling for teens and young adultschildren and tweenscouplesmen, and parents/partners. Contact us today to learn more about our team and community involvement!

Check out our community involvement page for information on events we offer plus so much more!

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