Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a therapeutic method that uses eye movements to assist patients to process distressing memories and beliefs.

What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing or EMDR is a system of psychotherapy that comprises specific principles and protocols combining saccadic eye movements (or other dual-attention stimulation) and aspects of other major psychotherapeutic schools such as psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioural, experiential therapies, clinical hypnotherapy, and system’s theory.

The standard three-pronged protocol is designed to help the patient to process:

  1. Negative experiences from the past
  2. Current triggers that are inadequately distressing
  3. Memory templates for appropriate action in the future

The EMDR treatment consists of eight phases:

  1. History taking and planning
  2. Preparation
  3. Assessment
  4. Desensitization
  5. Installation
  6. Body scan
  7. Closure
  8. Reevaluation

What is EMDR used for?

Trauma Therapy

EMDR’s clinical effectiveness has been supported for the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in:

  1. Combat veterans
  2. Victims of crime
  3. Police officers, firefighters, and field workers
  4. Victims of natural and human-made disasters
  5. Accident, surgery, and burn victims
  6. Sexual assaults
  7. Interpersonal violence
  8. Victims of family, marital, and sexual dysfunction

Other issues

  1. Relief of excessive grief
  2. Anxiety disorders
  3. Performance anxiety in school, business, performing arts, or sports
  4. Addictions
  5. Dissociative disorders
  6. Depression
  7. Somatic problems: Migraines, chronic pain, phantom limb pain


Shapiro F (2001) Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols and Procedures 2nd edition Guildford Press