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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

What is EMDR

"EMDR — Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing — is an innovative method of psychotherapy which has been used by trained mental health professionals to help an estimated one million people of all ages from many different countries.

The focus of EMDR treatment is the resolution of emotional distress arising from difficult childhood experiences,or the recovery from the effects of critical incidents, such as automobile accidents, assault, natural disasters, and combat trauma. Other problems treated with EMDR are phobias, panic attacks, distress in children, and substance abuse.

Another innovative focus of EMDR is performance enhancement that aims to improve the functioning of people at work, in sports, and in performing arts. (quote from the EMDRIA website)

Is EMDR for me?

What happens after a very scary or painful event? Instead of getting over it, we often get stuck. This can lead to disturbances in how we feel, think, and act. We might not realize that a change in thinking feeling or acting has occurred until we remember how things were different before. Or the memory itself could be the problem, often popping up in unwelcomed ways.

The question is "How do I get "unstuck" and free of disturbance?" The general response from the experts is the only way out of these disturbances is going through them. We go through them by really facing and working through the upsetting memories. This can be done in many ways. Psychotherapists are trained to facilitate this process.

EMDR is an intensive and effective procedure for working through upsetting events. It should only be provided by a mental health professional with formal, supervised training in EMDR. It is safe, and does not involve hypnosis or drugs. Research has shown that EMDR can help to make treatment both fast and effective.

What Does The Press Say About EMDR®?

"EMDR therapy has emerged as a procedure to be reckoned with in psychology....Almost a million people have been treated ....Also, further research appears to support the remarkable claims made for EMDR therapy."- Reported in The Washington Post, July 21, 1995"Where traditional therapies may take years, EMDR takes only a few sessions." - Reported in The Stars and Stripes, February 12, 1995"New type of psychotherapy seen as boon to traumatic disorders." - Reported in The New York Times, October 26, 1997

What Are My Clients Saying About EMDR®?

* "I am amazed. I don't have those thoughts anymore" * " The fear has been eliminated" * "EMDR worked so simply. I can think more clearly now"

Common Questions About EMDR®

As the therapist guides the client in concentrating on a troubling memory or emotion, alternating bilateral stimulation is utilized. Bilateral or left-right stimulation, occurs naturally during dreaming. It also facilitates a client’s ability to heal from disturbing emotions or events. EMDR has helped an estimated one million people of all ages relieve many different types of psychological distress.

How Was EMDR® Developed?

In 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro discovered that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts in certain situations. She researched this effect and, in 1989, she reported success using EMDR to treat trauma victims in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

How Does EMDR® Work?

No one knows exactly how EMDR works. When a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it ordinarily would . Remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t been processed. These memories can remain disturbing for many years, affecting the way the person relates to the world. EMDR seems to facilitate the brain in the processing of disturbing information. The event is still remembered, but it is less upsetting. Utilizing EMDR often accelerates the speed at which this processing occurs. As a result, the client is able to remember the event and not experience the associated disturbance.


Many studies have been conducted on the efficacy of the EMDR protocol. For more specific information on the research go to

What Kinds of Problems Can EMDR® Treat?

  • depression

  • obsessive compulsive behaviors

  • post-traumatic stress

  • phobias

  • panic attacks

  • performance anxiety

  • dissociative disorders

  • stress reduction

  • sexual and/or physical abuse

  • disturbing memories

  • complicated grief

  • anxiety disorders

  • addictions



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