Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy that is remarkably effective for helping clients work through and resolve the lingering impact of trauma. It is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and systemic desensitization therapy. EMDR has been extensively researched and proven efficacious for treating symptoms related to traumatic events from both the recent and distant past. It can be useful for dealing with the impact of serious accidents, injuries, intrusive medical procedures, natural disaster, and loss. It can also help with the trauma of abuse, neglect and relational trauma.

EMDR uses a technique called bilateral alternating stimulation to repeatedly activate opposite sides of the brain. Therapists often use eye movements to facilitate the bilateral alternating stimulation. Auditory and tactile bilateral alternating stimulation can also be used to facilitate the desensitization and reprocessing that takes place in EMDR.

EMDR works by activating the mind and the body’s natural capacity to process and neutralize emotionally painful experiences. When an individual experiences a trauma, the intensity of the trauma may overwhelm the person’s capacity to adequately process the experience while it is happening. As a result, the traumatic memory may be stored, and later triggered, with an intense emotional and often physical charge. EMDR neutralizes the intensity of the trapped memories in such a way that normal information processing is resumed. Once the intensity of the traumatic memory is neutralized, clients can reconsider and transform maladaptive beliefs that developed in response to the trauma. In this way, clients come to see themselves as survivors rather than victims. EMDR does not change the past, but it changes how you relate to the past and how you choose to live your life in the future.

Originally established as helpful for PTSD, EMDR has also been proven useful for treatment of:

  • Panic Attacks
  • Complicated Grief
  • Dissociative Orders
  • Disturbing Memories
  • Phobias
  • Pain Disorders
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Addictions
  • Stress Reduction
  • Sexual and/or Physical Abuse
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders
  • Personality Disorders