What is EMDR? August 23, 2020

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, works a little like REM sleep, where the things we experience when we are awake are sorted out while we dream. EMDR sorts through adverse life experiences, keeping the lessons and letting go of the terror or fear.

It was originally developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1980s, and found to help heal people with traumatic experiences. In EMDR, the patient is asked to recall distressing images; then the therapist directs the patient in one type of bilateral stimulation, such as side-to-side eye movements or hand tapping. This sounds a lot like "hocus pocus" but after years of study and research, the World Health Organization published a practice guideline in 2013 which stated, in part, "This therapy [EMDR] is based on the idea that negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours are the result of unprocessed memories. The treatment involves standardized procedures that include focusing simultaneously on (a) spontaneous associations of traumatic images, thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations and (b) bilateral stimulation that is most commonly in the form of repeated eye movements."[2]

Today, EMDR is one of the five modalities recommended for TRAUMA by the American Psychological Association, and has been found to be effective in helping heal ANXIETY and DEPRESSION, EATING DISORDERS, COMPLICATED GRIEF, DISSOCIATIVE DISORDERS and ADDICTIONS.


Not everyone is suitable for EMDR therapy, which is why it must always be provided by a trained therapist who can determine whether an individual would benefit from EMDR. Ask for your therapist's certification before you take part in EMDR sessions.

See the video below for stories from patients who healed with EMDR.

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