EMDR Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that was developed by Francine Shapiro to resolve the development of trauma-related disorders caused by exposure to distressing events such as rape or military combat. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories, reducing their lingering influence and allowing clients to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms.  While EMDR may be used to address various problems, its research support is primarily for disorders stemming from distressing life experiences, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The theory underlying EMDR treatment is that it works by helping the sufferer process distressing memories more fully, which reduces the distress. EMDR is based on a theoretical information processing model that says symptoms arise when events are inadequately processed and can be eradicated when the memory is fully processed. It is an integrative therapy, synthesizing elements of many traditional psychological orientations, such as psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, experiential, physiological and interpersonal therapies.

EMDR’s unique aspect is an unusual component of bilateral stimulation of the brain, such as eye movement, bilateral sound, or bilateral tactile stimulation coupled with cognitions, visualized images and body sensation. EMDR also utilizes dual-attention awareness to allow the individual to vacillate between the traumatic material and the safety of the present moment. This can help prevent re-traumatization from exposure to the disturbing memory.