Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapeutic approach developed by Francine Shapiro to resolve symptoms resulting from exposure to a traumatic or distressing event. Clinical trials have demonstrated EMDR’s efficacy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It has shown to be more effective than some alternative treatments and equivalent to cognitive behavioral and exposure therapies (see effectiveness sections below).

The theoretical model underlying EMDR treatment hypothesizes that EMDR works by processing distressing memories. EMDR is based on a theoretical information processing model which posits that 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.

“The aim of EMDR treatment is to achieve the most profound and comprehensive treatment effects in the shortest period of time.”
– From the EMDR International Association’s Definition of EMDR

“The speed at which change occurs during EMDR contradicts the traditional notion of time as essential for psychological healing. EMDR has integrated elements from many different schools of psychotherapy into its protocols, making EMDR applicable to a variety of clinical populations.”
– Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD, Boston University School of Medicine

Read the EMDR Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).