What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative therapy established by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the 1980’s. Research has shown EMDR to be highly effective in the treatment of trauma, and is also useful in treating PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR therapy incorporates elements from multiple treatment approaches but is unique in that it isn’t traditional talk therapy. EMDR involves a technique called bilateral stimulation (BLS), which is used to repeatedly activate opposite sides of the brain. BLS is traditionally achieved through eye movements, but tapping and auditory stimulation may also be used. These eye movements mimic the period of sleep referred to as rapid eye movement or REM sleep, and this portion of sleep is frequently considered to be the time when the brain processes the recent events in a person’s life.

When someone is in danger, whether it’s physical or perceived danger, the brain dedicates its energy to keeping them safe, which means it isn’t working to store and process memories in the way it typically would. EMDR helps the brain reprocess memories that are stored incorrectly and challenge inaccurate beliefs about the self that have developed in response to those memories.

If you’d like to learn more about EMDR, I recommend checking out these resources:

EMDR – Client Handout

How EMDR Works

EMDR International Association