Eye Movement & Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy


What is EMDR?


Courtesy of EMDR International Association:

EMDR Fingers

What kinds of challenges can EMDR treat? 


Scientific research has established EMDR Therapy as effective for post traumatic stress. However, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR Therapy in treatment of the following conditions:

Personality Disorders

Dissociative Disorders  

Pain Disorders

Stress Reduction

Panic Attacks  

Disturbing Memories

Performance Anxiety

Sexual and/or Physical Abuse

Complicated Grief    



Body Dysmorphic Disorders

For more in-depth information, I suggest reading Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro.

It is available here from Amazon:

Purple - Blue Gradient

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy based on the adaptive information processing (AIP) model, which posits that trauma is stored and stuck in the brain's neural network. Any memory of a traumatic event causes a person to connect to the negative feelings, body sensations and cognitions associated with it. The goal is to add adaptive emotions to the neural network. This is obtained through bilateral stimulation, a process that creates new neural pathways and the ability to access the stored trauma. This allows for the reprocessing of the trauma and a reduction of associated anxiety, thereby creating new associations with memories and increasing adaptive behaviours.


Who developed EMDR therapy?


American psychologist Dr Francine Shapiro, who died in 2019, devised EMDR. Having started out as an English teacher, she summed up her life’s work with William Blake’s line: “For the eye altering alters all.” Shapiro overcame opposition to make EMDR a mainstream therapy, after its efficacy had been demonstrated in more than 40 randomized controlled trials. It is now practiced in many countries and endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the WHO

Image of Office

How does EMDR therapy differ from other modalities, such as traditional talk therapy?


Traditional talk therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), looks at thinking patterns that influence behaviours and works to change maladaptive belief systems in order to improve current functioning. EMDR therapy looks at the memory networks that seem to be driving current symptoms and distress. Once those memory networks have been identified, the information held in these networks, including distressing images, beliefs, emotions, and physical sensations, are stimulated through the brain’s own information processing system. The disturbing memory can then link up to other adaptive memory networks and thus become integrated as part of our personal narrative without the previously held level of distress. As these memories move to adaptive resolution, one will experience healthier responses to current life stressors and a greater sense of safety, belonging, and esteem in relationships and life in general.

Light Bar

How long will EMDR therapy take?


One potential advantage of EMDR therapy is that it may allow clients to resolve trauma more efficiently and effectively than other approaches. There are many factors that contribute to the number of sessions needed for resolution, including extent and nature of trauma, access to positive or adaptive memory networks, level of internal and external resources and resiliency. While EMDR therapy can resolve traumatic memories rapidly, it is difficult to assess how many sessions may be needed.

I’ve been seeing my therapist for several sessions, and we haven’t started EMDR yet. Why not?

Many people equate bilateral eye movements with EMDR therapy. While eye movements are an important component of the memory reprocessing phases of EMDR therapy, they are just one piece of a robust eight-phase protocol, which includes history taking and preparation phases. From the moment you are introduced to your therapist, you begin EMDR therapy. For example, the preparation phase may include learning distress tolerance skills or mindfulness techniques. Your therapist is trained to determine what pace will be most beneficial for your needs.


For more information on EMDR therapy, please visit:

black grass_edited.jpg