EMDR therapy in psycho-oncology: A bridge between mind and body


Of the many life-threatening illnesses, cancer can be one of the most traumatic and distressful. It impacts the individual's sense of identity and interferes with essential features intrinsic to the person's uniqueness and self-awareness. It attacks patients' physical integrity, bringing death into the foreground and can directly threaten their sense of belonging to micro and macro social systems. This article stresses the importance of understanding that psychological pain and physical suffering are closely interconnected and, within the context of psycho-oncology, proposes a clinical perspective based on the eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) approach, in which the cancer event is nested in the history of life of the patient. EMDR is a therapeutic approach guided by the adaptive information processing (AIP) model. The AIP model postulates that psychopathology results when unprocessed experiences are stored in their own neural network, incapable of connecting with other more adaptive networks. In this perspective, the core of the clinical suffering is hypothesized as embedded in these dysfunctionally suspended memories. In line with recent scientific literature presented in this article, it appears that previous and cancer-related traumas maintain a vicious cycle between psychological and physical health, and the aim of EMDR therapy is to break this cycle. Recent scientific research has hypothesized that EMDR therapy is effective at both the psychological and physical levels. However, because of the consistent heterogeneity of the research design, the findings reported in this article highlight the need for further controlled research for more comprehensive examination.






Elise Farretta
Cristina Civilotti

Original Work Citation

Farretta, E., & Civilotti, C. (2016). EMDR therapy in psycho-oncology: A bridge between mind and body. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 10(3), 138-152. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.10.3.138



“EMDR therapy in psycho-oncology: A bridge between mind and body,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 29, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/24033.

Output Formats