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EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a psychotherapy treatment that was developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro. Shapiro discovered accidentally that eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) could reduce the intensity of the impact of difficult memories and disturbing thoughts.

When a person experiences an experience that is too intense for them (trauma), their brain is unable to process the information in the same way that it normally does. The memory of the traumatic event remains "frozen in time" along with the sounds, smells, emotions, and sensations. Any spontaneous or unplanned recollection is experienced as difficult, as if the person is re-experiencing the trauma in the present.


EMDR is an integrative therapy that has been extensively researched and proven to be effective in the treatment of a variety of psychological complaints related to, among other things, trauma and anxiety.

The method can lead to rapid processing of traumatic memories, improvement in cognitive and emotional state, and significant relief of behavioral-physical symptoms.

Research on EMDR and how the method works is still ongoing, but it is likely that it involves a combination of components, each of which contributes to the effectiveness of the method.


It is possible that traumatic memories are "engraved" in the right hemisphere and do not receive the attention of the left hemisphere. EMDR treatment facilitates the opening of communication channels between the two hemispheres, thereby allowing for the processing of traumatic memories.


The assumption is that processing through movement is similar to what happens naturally during sleep in the REM stage, in which a process of information processing occurs during eye movements.

Here is a more detailed explanation of how EMDR works:

In EMDR therapy, the therapist guides the client through a series of steps, which include:

  • Recalling the traumatic memory: The client is asked to recall the traumatic memory in as much detail as possible, including the sights, sounds, smells, emotions, and sensations they experienced.

  • Identifying negative beliefs and emotions: The client is asked to identify the negative beliefs and emotions that they associate with the traumatic memory. For example, they may believe that they are not safe, that they are to blame for the trauma, or that they are not worthy of love.

  • Developing positive beliefs: The client is asked to develop positive beliefs that they would like to replace the negative beliefs. For example, they may believe that they are safe, that they are not to blame for the trauma, or that they are worthy of love.

  • Bilateral stimulation: The client is then exposed to bilateral stimulation, which can be done in a variety of ways, such as by following the therapist's fingers with their eyes, listening to tones that alternate from one ear to the other, or holding vibrating devices in each hand.​


The bilateral stimulation is thought to help to activate both hemispheres of the brain, which allows for the processing of the traumatic memory. As the client focuses on the traumatic memory and the positive beliefs, they may experience a variety of physical and emotional sensations, such as eye movements, body movements, or changes in emotions.


Over the course of several EMDR sessions, the client typically experiences a reduction in the intensity of the negative beliefs and emotions associated with the traumatic memory. They may also experience improvements in their cognitive and emotional functioning, such as improved sleep, reduced anxiety, and increased self-esteem.

EMDR is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of psychological complaints related to trauma and anxiety. It is important to note that EMDR is not a quick fix, and it may take several sessions to achieve significant results.

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