Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapeutic approach that emphasizes the role of the brain’s information processing system. Mental health problems, excluding those caused by lack of information, organic deficit, toxicity, or physical injury, are conceptualized as the result of inadequately processed memories of disturbing or traumatic experiences. These unprocessed memories contain the emotions, physical sensations, and perspectives experienced at the time of the original disturbing event. EMDR comprises eight phases and a three-pronged methodology to identify and process (1) memories of past adverse life experiences that underlie present problems, (2) current situations that elicit disturbance, and (3) needed skills that will provide positive memory templates to guide the client’s future behavior. Using standardized procedures, which include sets of eye movements or other forms of bilateral dual attention stimuli (tactile or auditory), the client’s memories are accessed and processed to an adaptive resolution. Stimulating the information processing system causes internal connections to form as the problematic experience is appropriately integrated and resolved. During this processing, insights automatically arise, along with positive emotions, beliefs, and physical reactions, and the disturbing event becomes both a learning experience and the foundation of resilience.


Book Section




Francine Shapiro
Roger Solomon

Original Work Citation

Shapiro, F., & Solomon, R. (2015). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. In Edward S. Neukrug's (Ed.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Theory in Counseling and Psychotherapy (pp. 389-394). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications



“Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 30, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/24527.

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