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What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy, developed in 1987 by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro, is based on the theory that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing memories or thought processes under certain conditions.  Short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR therapy is “an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches” (

Most often, EMDR has been shown to be very effective in treading post traumatic stress.  But, EMDR has most recently also been shown to help with treatment of the following conditions:

 “Panic Attacks, Complicated Grief, Dissociative Disorders, Disturbing Memories, Phobias, Pain Disorders, Performance Anxiety, Stress Reduction, Addictions, Sexual and/or Physical Abuse, Body Dysmorphic Disorders, Personality Disorders” (

Although all forms of psychotherapy remain mysterious in regards to how exactly they function and work, it is common knowledge that brains can’t process information  normally and effectually when individuals are upset or stressed abnormally.  According to the EMDR International Association website, “One moment becomes “frozen in time,” and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people. 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. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.”