Introduction to EMDR therapy


This presentation will introduce the basics of EMDR therapy and provide an overview of treatment. Both the theoretical foundation and recent research findings will be explored. EMDR is an evidence-based psychotherapy supported by more than 20 randomized controlled studies. Meta-analyses have indicated that the effects of EMDR on PTSD symptoms are comparable to those of trauma-focused CBT. However, EMDR therapy does not require homework, sustained arousal, detailed descriptions of the index trauma, or extended exposure to the event. While the eye movement component has been the subject of controversy, in the past decade an additional 20 randomized trials have evaluated the eye movements and demonstrated significantly superior effects compared to “exposure-only” conditions. The eye movements have been shown to (a) decrease the emotionality and vividness of memories, (b) create physiological relaxation responses, (c) facilitate access to associative memories and (d) lead to an increase in recognition of correct information. Two dominant theories regarding the role of the eye movements have emerged: (1) disruption of working memory and (2) elicitation of an orienting response. The research and clinical implications will be examined. The goals of this presentation parallel those of the conference itself by allowing participants to evaluate ways in which EMDR therapy offers innovations in both conceptualization and clinical treatment. These innovations include ways to support therapy retention and increase stability for those clients ordinarily considered too fragile to tolerate memory processing. Outreach can also be increased through the use of consecutive-day trauma treatment. Relevant research will be reported on the use of EMDR therapy with diverse populations. Participants will learn how the adaptive information processing theory that guides EMDR therapy practice offers a reconceptualization of (a) psychopathology, (b) therapeutic change, (c) the therapy relationship, (d) preparation for processing and (e) the multiple methods included in the therapy. The presentation will provide participants with the theoretical basis for EMDR therapy, an overview of the eight treatment phases, the three-pronged selection of processing targets, pertinent research, as well as applications to the full range of trauma victims. Videotaped sessions will demonstrate diverse treatment effects and provide participants with comparisons to other research-supported trauma treatments.
1-Describe the relevant research findings 2-Identify the components of the standard EMDR therapy three-pronged approach to processing 3-Contrast EMDR therapy with other empirically supported trauma treatments






Francine Shapiro

Original Work Citation

Shapiro, F. (2012, October). Introduction to EMDR therapy. Presentation at the pre-meeting of the 28th Annual Meeting of ISTSS, Los Angeles, CA



“Introduction to EMDR therapy,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 9, 2020,

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