An overview of EMDR


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a method of psychotherapy developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro as a treatment for psychological distress associated with trauma, when she chanced to notice a connection between a decrease in her own emotional distress over a personal concern after having spontaneously moved her eyes back and forth. Integrating her eye movement (em) observation with aspects of, at least, imaginal exposure, cognitive therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and mindfulness teachings, and adding an early positive psychology idea, Shapiro developed a treatment, which she informally tested. Shapiro (1989a) first systematically tested her work in a wait list control study of 21 subjects recruited from local mental health centers, including a DVA veteran readjustment center. Remarkably, all of her first 21 subjects showed profound single session desensitization effects. In addition, Shapiro (1989b) published a case study in a journal edited by Joseph Wolpe, an originator of behavior therapy, in which Wolpe, in an editorial footnote, endorsed Shapiro’s rapid effects from his own informal replication. [Excerpt]






Howard Lipke

Original Work Citation

Lipke, H. (2011, August). An overview of EMDR. Author



“An overview of EMDR,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 24, 2021,

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