Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing (EMDR)



EDMR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a form of therapy for those who are suffering from trauma. Every human has memories that are linked to images, sensations and emotions. Progressive learning occurs when there are new happenings linked to things that are already stored within our memory. When traumatic events take place it is likely that information processing is incomplete due to the negative feelings associated with them. These have the potential to obstruct connections that are held within our memory bank. Every time that the individual thinks about the trauma it may feel as if they are reliving it due to strong sensations and emotions. EDMR is a psychotherapeutic approach that abides by a structure created to provide physiological and cognitive relief. There are multiple therapies used throughout the treatment such as interpersonal, body centered, experiential, psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral methods. EDMR abides by eight phases and addresses patients who are suffering from past experiences, worrisome emotions or dysfunctional sensations and beliefs. The purpose of therapy is to improve the patient's ability in adapting to their circumstances mentally, emotionally and physically.

Goals of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

The goal of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is to increase the patient's strength associated with the belief that they can replace negative feelings with positive ones. Toward the beginning of the treatment a patient may feel powerless over the sensations. The goal of EDMR is to replace terror with control and help the client realize that they now have a choice and strength in overcoming the situation for the purpose of moving forward. The therapist focuses on making them feel as if they are in control after they have accepted the truth and positivity within themselves. When the person becomes aware that they need to learn new processing skills and defense training they are already in control of this situation. As the patient begins to experience a positive outlook toward overcoming their trauma and they can speak about it openly, they have overcome the symptoms and can begin to move forward.

When Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Used?

EMDR is used on patients who have suffered from traumatically induced experiences such as combat, deaths, assault and sexual abuse. The patient is often diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder if some of these symptoms occur. The intrusive thoughts affect a patient and produce physicals symptoms such as flashbacks, lashing out and difficulty focusing or sleeping. EMDR is used when a patient has already been diagnosed with PTSD or been through a traumatic occurrence. Not all of the patients are diagnosed with PTSD because there are less disturbing experiences that can result in the same symptoms. Majority of these experiences may have occurred during childhood and the negativity associated with them has resulted in unprocessed memories. These patients have dealt with disturbing experiences and it has resulted in a memory connection dysfunction. Clients often experience negative self-talk and EMDR aims to replace this with strong coping mechanisms.

How Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Works

EDMR is effective because it is an information processing technique that is implemented to rid of the distress that is the result of a traumatic event. The therapist is going to obtain and process any past experiences that produce negativity in the perception of the client. When they begin to sense emotion and anxiety as a physiological symptom, the client will use treatment to reduce the fear. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing works because it accesses these traumas and helps the patient understand the experience thoroughly. The techniques show the patient how to be in control of the symptoms.

Therapists abide by a structured protocol consisting of interventions. These are EDMR specialists who use their license and education to treat a client through expressive, psychiatric and psychological therapies. The clinicians treating patients with trauma related conditions will go through many sessions and phases. The therapist will collect symptomatic information pertaining to distress or history related conflicts. Specialists look at the patient's support system and their ability to cope with emotions. After the therapist analyzes the information they will then identify the treatment plan and create a customized structure that meets the needs of the patient.

Criticisms of Expressive Therapy

There has been a significant amount of controversy toward EDMR since it was produced. There are some health care professionals who claim that eye movements don't play a role in the therapy and that the movements are analytical. Some claim that the treatment isn't as promising as exposure therapy is in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


Edmr therapy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.emdr-therapy.com/emdr-faq.html

Rothmayr, C. (n.d.). Treating post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd) with emdr. Retrieved from http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/emdr_ptsd.htm

TARTAKOVSKY, M. (2012). Using emdr therapy to heal your past. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/lib/using-emdr-therapy-to-heal-your-past-interview-with-creator-francine-shapiro/00011595

Help Us Improve This Article

Did you find an inaccuracy? We work hard to provide accurate and scientifically reliable information. If you have found an error of any kind, please let us know by sending an email to contact@theravive.com, please reference the article title and the issue you found.

Share Therapedia With Others