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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a comprehensive, integrative psychotherapy approach developed by Francine Shapiro.  It is used to help with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  According to Shapiro, when a traumatic or distressing experience occurs, it may overwhelm normal coping mechanisms. The memory and associated stimuli are inadequately processed and stored in an isolated memory network.


The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories, reducing their long lasting effects and allowing the person to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms.  This is done in an eight-phase approach that includes having the person recall distressing images while receiving one of several types of bilateral sensory input, including side to side eye movements.  The use of EMDR was originally developed to treat adults with PTSD; however, it is also used to treat other conditions and children.

Still uncertain what EMDR is?

Watch this brief video from Psychotherapy Networker for a more detailed look at EMDR

EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain's information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

Is EMDR right for me?

Ask yourself the questions below:


  • Are you losing productivity at home or at work because of symptoms of anxiety?

  • Are you still feeling depressed or lonely, despite the practice of positive thinking? Are you angry all the time, and don't know why?

  • Are you frustrated that the "real you" is buried by hair-trigger, out of control emotions?

  • Have phobias limited your life, despite your best efforts to overcome them?

  • Have you been in therapy "forever," wrestling with the same old problems?

  • Have you tried cognitive therapies only to find your emotions still ruling your life?

  • Do you want to calm the chaos of self-defeating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors?

  • Do you want to get to the root cause of chronic symptoms?

  • Do you want to reduce stress and its negative impact on your physical health?


If you answered yes to any of the questions above, EMDR may be a great option for you!

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