Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of trauma and/or disturbing life experiences. EMDR uses a structured, eight-phase approach to address the past, present, and future aspects of a traumatic or distressing memory that has been stored in the mind of the victim as a dysfunctional memory. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories, reducing their influence and allowing clients to heal and develop effective coping mechanisms. Multiple studies have shown EMDR to be an effective treatment for traumatic stress among children, adolescents, and adults.
During EMDR therapy, the client attends to emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Therapist-directed lateral eye movements are the most commonly used external stimulus, but a variety of other stimuli, including hand-tapping and audio stimulation, are often used.
Shapiro (1995, 2001) hypothesizes that EMDR therapy facilitates the accessing of the traumatic memory network, so that information processing is enhanced, with new associations forged between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories or information.
To learn more about how EMDR works, find clinical training in EMDR, or find an EMDR provider for your child, visit the EMDR Institute website at the link below: