Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

What is EMDR?

EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR procedures facilitate the effective reprocessing of traumatic events or adverse life experiences and associated beliefs to an adaptive resolution

How does it work?

A thorough history is taken and a treatment plan is developed to define the specific targets on which to use EMDR. The targets include events from the past that created the problem, the present situations that cause distress, and the key skills or behaviors that are needed to learn for future well-being. The person seeking treatment does not have to discuss any of the disturbing memories in detail, which might otherwise re-traumatize the individual.

Specific steps are then used to access and reprocess information that incorporates alternating bilateral visual stimulation, although auditory or tactile stimulation are sometimes used.

EMDR is based on the theory that traumatic or disturbing experiences are incompletely processed during and after the trauma. Emotional, mental and physical memories of the trauma are retained, as if the trauma is continuing in real time for months or years after the event has occurred.

The process of EMDR facilitates the resumption of normal information processing and integration, allowing a person to release inappropriate emotions, beliefs, and body sensations. The goal of EMDR therapy is to leave you with the emotions, understanding, and perspectives that will lead to healthy and useful behaviors and interactions.

Does research support EMDR?

Initially EMDR was utilized and studied as a therapy for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). More than 20 controlled clinical trials of EMDR have been completed and reported, attesting to its value and demonstrating its usefulness across all ages, genders, and cultures for post-traumatic stress disorders. Tens of thousands of clinicians have been trained in EMDR and have applied the protocols of this psychotherapy to many other conditions, including panic attacks, performance anxiety, stress reduction, disturbing memories, addictions, phobias, pain disorders, sexual and/or physical abuse and body dysmorphic disorders.

EMDR is listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs & Department of Defense Practice Guidelines A category as highly recommended for the treatment of trauma. It has also received a high level of recommendation by the American Psychiatric Association and by the mental health departments of several countries.