What is EMDR?

By Stephanie Camins – MA, LPC 

verified by Psychology Today

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing aims to move disturbance to adaptive resolution. Disturbing events are often the basis of unhealthy, negative symptoms. EMDR is an approach to psychotherapy which incorporates knowledge from many therapeutic approaches. It utilizes an accelerated form of information processing used within a comprehensive treatment plan to promote recovery. EMDR is comprised of 8 phases which address thoughts, emotions, memories and bodily sensations. It uses not only eye movements, but other forms of bilateral stimulation (activation of both sides of the brain) to pair your own adaptive information processing abilities with memory networks. This associative process allows for the alleviation of disruptive symptoms and the enhancement of one’s own sense of well-being.


When something traumatic happens to you, that memory is stored with all five sensory components. These old experiences can cause uncomfortable symptoms in the present when triggered by current experiences. The sensory components of the original memory can create dysfunctional symptoms in the present. There may be times when you feel helpless in the face of these unexpected emotional responses. EMDR is one of the most thoroughly researched methods of therapy. Studies indicate 84-90% of people with a traumatic experience no longer experienced symptoms of PTSD after receiving EMDR treatment.

What issues are appropriate for EMDR?

Problems stemming from early psychological problems Trauma (abuse, neglect, accident, surgery, crime victim, natural disaster).

Performance Enhancement (for work and personal goals).

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