An overview of EMDR: A handbook for clinicians considering EMDR training


EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR therapy is a psychological treatment used for posttraumatic stress and related disorders caused by overwhelming like experience, whether single or chronic, recent or repeated throughout childhood. Ovewhelming experiences are not stored in the same way as the rest of experience which is assimilated into narrative, cognitive memory schemes and becomes useful in keeping us safe, making decisions and planning actions. They appear to be frozen in their original state and may be only partally accessible or not accessible at all to the individial due to complete or partial dissociation from the trauma. Traumatic experience(s) exist(s) in the state experienced at the time of the orignal overwhelming experience(s), that is the physiologcal, stressful, sensory or somatic episodic fragments from the orginating event(s). In order to heal, clients must access these frightening memories in a safe situation wher they are simultaeously calmed (desenstization) and reprocess the disturbing materual through their own associative networks into narrative, verbal memory, integrated into their existing schema. When disturbing memories are transoformed and integrated into the rest of cognitive memory, they can be easily and mental processes, such as reason and judgment can help the client put the event into perspective in his life. He no longer is at the mercy of unconscious and partial conscious disturbance, but is able to think of and respond to the traumatic memory more calmly and realistically. [Excerpt]






Donna Emery Dorsey

Original Work Citation

Dorsey, D. E. (2003). An overview of EMDR: A handbook for clinicians considering EMDR training. (Master's thesis, California State University)



“An overview of EMDR: A handbook for clinicians considering EMDR training,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 24, 2021,

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