Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a scientifically validated, evidence-based and integrative psychotherapy approach based on the theory that much of psychopathology is due to traumatic experience or disturbing life events. These result in the impairment of the client’s innate ability to process and integrate the experience or experiences within the central nervous system.
The core of EMDR treatment involves activating components of the traumatic memory or disturbing life event and pairing those components with alternating bilateral or dual attention stimulation. This process appears to facilitate the resumption of normal information processing and integration. This treatment approach can result in the alleviation of presenting symptoms, diminution of distress from the memory, improved view of the self, relief from bodily disturbance, and resolution of present and future anticipated triggers.
Research in over 20 randomized controlled (and 12 non-randomized) studies have been conducted on EMDR in the treatment of trauma. In 2004, the American Psychiatric Association determined EMDR to be an effective treatment of trauma. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense placed EMDR in the “A” category as “strongly recommended” for the treatment of trauma.
The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (2008) practice guidelines ranked EMDR as an evidence-based Level A treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder in adults.
Internationally, EMDR has received a high level of recommendation for the treatment of trauma by the mental health departments of Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Israel and more. You can view a full listing here.
EMDR is also listed as an effective form of therapy, backed by research, on a new website sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health.
For research and professional articles related to EMDR, visit theFrancine Shapiro online library.
The EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP) trains clinician within crisis or underserved communities throughout the world to treat trauma using EMDR. The HAP model emphasizes training and empowering local clinicians to treat those who have experienced difficult life experiences.