Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a multistage therapy, typically using rapid eye movements or tapping in order to facilitate recovery from trauma. It is considered particularly effective for the treatment of anxiety, panic disorder, eating disorders, addictions, and especially posttraumatic stress disorder.

There are two unique characteristics of EMDR: it does not require talking about the triggering event(s) and the process follows a standardized protocol, regardless of practitioner. It appears to work by changing the individual's response to the memory of the trauma. EMDR is considered a brief therapy, often completed in as few as six to eight 90-minute sessions. The standard EMDR process consists of three segments and eight phases.

See also Post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Psychologist Hans Eysenck.

Psychologist Hans Eysenck.
(© Daily Mail/Rex/Alamy)



Shapiro, Francine. and Margo Silk Forrest. EMDR: The Breakthrough “Eye Movement” Therapy for Anxiety, Stress, and Trauma. 2 ed. New York: Basic Books, 2004.


Beaumont, Elaine, and Caroline Hollins Martin, “Using Compassionate Mind Training as a Resource in EMDR: A Case Study.” Journal of EMDR Practice and Research 7, no. 4 (2013): 186–99.

Greenwald, R., et al. “A Controlled Comparison of Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing and Progressive Counting.” Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma 22, no. 9 (2013): 981–96.


U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “PTSD: National Center for PTSD, Treatment of PTSD.” http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/treatment/therapy-med/treatment-ptsd.asp (accessed July 15, 2015).


Trauma Association of America, 650 Montana Ave., Ste. A, Las Cruces, NM, 88001, (575) 525-9511, https://www.traumacenters.org.

(MLA 8th Edition)