Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing:  A new method in the treatment of performance anxiety for singers


The purpose of this thesis is to provide information and exposure for EMDR therapy as it relates to performance anxiety in singers and other musicians. Since EMDR therapy is a relatively new approach to relieving issues of anxiety, this thesis provides a description of its discovery, background, development, and proper procedures and protocols. In 1987 Francine Shapiro discovered and began to develop a new method in the treatment of trauma using guided eye movements. These guided eye movements were theorized to create bilateral brain stimulation, which through the simultaneous component of recalling ones trauma both physically and emotionally, an individuals trauma can be processed toward a state of mental health. This is similar to what is theorized to happen during REM sleep. Francine Shapiro states that every human being possesses an innate information processing system that guides each individual toward a balanced state of mental health, similar to the way our bodies heal physically. Once an individual experiences a trauma, the events become locked into the nervous system into its own separate neuro-network, unable to be accessed by the individual for positive processing. Our ability to process the traumatic experience is hindered and the trauma relives itself through nightmares, flashbacks, disturbing or intrusive thoughts, anxiety, or any number of life hindering events. The theory of EMDR is that through guided eye movements, or other sources of bilateral brain stimulation such as hand taps, alternating lights or sounds, or hand buzzers, the traumatic information held in its separate neuro-network is able to bridge itself to more positive information stored in the individuals memory. EMDR not only helps to desensitize our traumatic memories but also helps to reprocess our thoughts and feelings regarding the trauma with positive statements and beliefs such as I am in control and I deserve this. One of the most impressive aspects of the therapy is the rate in which patients improve. The success rate of EMDR is between 84 and 90 percent effective in one to three sessions or less, depending on the severity of the trauma. EMDR began treating patients suffering primarily from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome) but has expanded over the years to include a wide range of pathologies, traumas, and anxiety disorders. Francine Shapiro is continuously striving to enhance the protocols and procedures of EMDR in order to better understand and improve its effectiveness. I discovered EMDR only a ew years ago and realized that it was being used by therapists across the country in the treatment of performance anxiety, but very little had been written on this topic. Therefore, my goal is to expose both singers and instrumentalists to this new method as a new option in the treatment of performance anxiety.






Raymond Scott Feener

Original Work Citation

Feener, R. S. (2005). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: A new method in the treatment of performance anxiety for singers. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 65(12-B), 6648



“Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing:  A new method in the treatment of performance anxiety for singers,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed August 3, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/15430.

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