What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.  Developed by American psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980’s, it is a treatment approach that has been extensively researched and proven to be effective for the treatment of an extremely wide range of trauma-based difficulties. One commonly recognised result of single or multiple major traumatic events is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This sometimes develops after a person experiences something so disturbing to them that they are unable to process what happened in a way that allows them to heal. EMDR is the recommended treatment of choice for PTSD by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (N.I.C.E.) in the U.K.


Some of the kinds of traumatic experiences that can lead to PTSD include (but are not limited to):

  • Acute loss in all forms including sudden death of a loved one
  • Assault (experiencing or witnessing)
  • Domestic violence (experiencing or witnessing)
  • Rape
  • Combat stress
  • Childhood abuse (physical, emotional or sexual)
  • Adult abuse (physical, emotional or sexual)
  • Difficult or traumatic birth experiences
  • Extreme illness
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Natural disasters

EMDR is a formal set of protocols and procedures that can be used to “desensitize and reprocess” memories that have been dysfunctionally stored as a result of traumatic experiences.

Only practising, recognised mental health professionals may apply to be trained as EMDR therapists.

A clinical background is necessary for proper application of the EMDR technique. If you feel that this approach could benefit you, you should make sure that your intended therapist has the proper certified qualification and training in EMDR before you accept treatment of this kind.