Eye movement desensitization and processing (EMDR)


EMDR was originally developed to address traumatic memories. In teaching patients who have had a traumatic experience to repetitively move their eyes in a conjugate manner while contemplating that memory, EMDR therapy attempts to copy the conjugate eye movements occurring in rapid eye movement sleep (REMS). EMDR was consciously based on the theoretically proposed role for REMS in emotional processing during sleep, particularly in the case of negative emotions and trauma. Unfortunately for this theoretical construct, despite intensive research, no clear evidence has been discovered suggesting that the processing of emotional memories is confined to REMS. However, from the very first, remarkable results have been obtained using EMDR to treat patients diagnosed with PTSD. EMDR therapy consistently demonstrates large effects in treating subjective distress and moderate effects in treating PTSD and depression. There are a plethora of trained therapists, and since EMDR is non-aversive and not known to induce negative side effects, it is apparently ideal for use in at-risk populations. EMDR is equally effective to prolonged exposure when used immediately post-trauma. More studies document the effectiveness of EMDR therapy in treating PTSD than support any other form of PTSD therapy. A typical EMDR treatment protocol is described.


Book Section




J. F. Pagel

Original Work Citation

Pagel, J. F. (2021). Eye movement desensitization and processing (EMDR). In J. F. Pagel's Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, pp. 99-105. Springer, Cham. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-55909-0_12



“Eye movement desensitization and processing (EMDR),” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed February 25, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/26564.

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