Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
What is EMDR?
EMDR is a brain-based therapy that reduces feelings of emotional distress related to past experiences. By making your system less sensitive to certain memories, you can create opportunities for relief, freedom, and joy in everyday life.
EMDR can be conducted effectively online or in-person.
What does EMDR Treat?
Originally developed to treat PTSD and general trauma-related symptoms, EMDR is also effective in treating anxiety, panic, addiction, phobias, grief, depression, sexual dysfunction, dissociative disorders, somatic symptoms, and many forms of cognitive and emotional pain.
What to Expect
EMDR Therapy is not talk therapy and clients do not have to recall distressing events in detail. Through bilateral stimulation, EMDR helps the brain reprocess events and reduce the distress levels associated with painful memories. During a typical EMDR session, the client will identify and process a disturbing image, negative and positive beliefs, and body sensations associated with the experience. Flash is a specialized EMDR technique effective with uncomplicated disturbing past events.
The more repeated the trauma and the younger the person was at the time it occurred, the more complex the symptoms and their treatment. For more information about EMDR processing and overall treatment, read Experiencing EMDR therapy.
EMDR has an extraordinary amount of research considering that it is a relatively “young” therapy—roughly 45 years old. The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies rated EMDR a “Level A” treatment, the highest possible rating.
Controlled studies suggest that EMDR is as effective as CBT with exposure therapy. The advantages of EMDR over exposure therapy include that EMDR does not require any homework. Additionally, EMDR processing is not prolonged; rather, its length is determined by you and your therapist. Finally, EMDR is nonverbal, making it effective for those who prefer not to engage in exclusively talk-based therapy.
For more information, EMDR International has a comprehensive overview of EMDR.
Here is an introduction to EMDR therapy provided by the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA).