Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. While it has been widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal, repeated studies show that by using EMDR, people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy more quickly than previously expected. EMDR shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. For example, when you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it cases pain and prolongs the healing process. Once the irritant or block to healing is removed, the healing process resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.

Current Research

EMDR is recognized by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, and the Department of Defense as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences.

It has been significantly researched and more than 30 controlled outcome studies have indicated positive results related to EMDR therapy. A sampling of the results researched in these studies include:

  • 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute EMDR sessions.
  • 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions.
  • 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions.

While it is important to understand that treatment results vary by individual and condition, and that even evidence based treatments may not be effective for everyone, the effectiveness of EMDR is strongly supported by existing research.

EMDR in the Therapy Room

Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for post traumatic stress. However, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR to support treatment for a broad range of issues related to the following conditions:

  • Panic Attacks
  • Complicated Grief
  • Dissociative Disorders & Disturbing Memories
  • Phobias
  • Pain Disorders
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Stress Reduction
  • Addictions
  • Physical and/or Sexual Abuse
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders
  • Personality Disorders

For more information on EMDR research, resources, training requirements and information on how to find certified EMDR therapists, we recommend: