Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

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EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an intervention that has been demonstrated to be effective for the treatment of trauma.  EMDR has a strong research base and is an evidence-based psychotherapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). EMDR has also been demonstrated to be effective for the treatment of depression, anxiety, phobias, addictions, and other psychiatric disorders, including somatic (physical) symptoms. The model on which EMDR is based is called Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) which proposes that many types of emotional, psychological, and physiological symptoms are related to inadequately processed traumatic or distressing life experiences.

The AIP model posits that incompletely processed traumatic events and/or distressing life experiences can become stored in memory in ways that link them inappropriately within emotional, cognitive, somatosensory, and temporal systems. This means that aspects of traumatic or distressing memories may be activated or recalled without respect to current time, place, and context, and thus may be experienced as disconnected and confusing sensory events. Furthermore, because important links to other memory networks containing adaptive information may have been impaired, new information, positive experiences, and positive emotions are unable to properly connect with the traumatic memory.  EMDR facilitates the resumption of normal information processing and integration which results in the alleviation of trauma-related symptoms, reduction or elimination of distress from the traumatic memory, a more adaptive, positive view of the self, relief from bodily disturbance, and resolution of present and future anticipated triggers.

EMDR is endorsed by:

  • The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies – 2009
  • The Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Health (approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council) – 2007
  • American Psychiatric Association – 2004
  • Clinical Division of the American Psychological Association – 1998S
  • Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defence – 2004

For the full description of the EMDR International Association (EMDRAA) Definition of EMDR please visit: http://www.emdria.org/associations/12049/files/EMDRIA%20Definition%20of%20EMDR.pdf