EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

EMDR is a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.  According to its founder, Francine Shapiro, traumatic or distressing experiences may overwhelm usual cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms.  The goal of EMDR therapy is to process  distressing memories and thoughts, reducing their lingering influence and allowing clients to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

EMDR was first developed to help clients overcome the anxiety associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders, such as phobias.  Since 1989, when the first scientific paper on it was published, EMDR has been successfully used to treat many other conditions such as depression, sexual dysfunction, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and even the psychological stress generated by cancer.

For further information:


Scientific American article about EMDR