EMDR, What is It?

Francine Shapiro discovered the therapeutic potential of saccadic eye movements on distressing thoughts 1, and the first study relating its successful effects goes back to 1989, in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

During a therapeutic session, patients with PTSD had to perform a series of eye movement alternations, sequentially and at different times. The symptoms subsided. The novel saccadic eye movement technique was operationalized as “Eye movement Desensitization” and is now known as “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing” or EMDR.

Interestingly, the stimulation protocol has evolved considerably, and the Bilateral Stimulation (BLS) used in the EMDR treatment protocol is no longer limited to eye movements, but can be a sensorial (e.g., finger tapping) or an auditory stimulation (e.g., sound) as well. The EMDR technique is articulated around several clinically relevant practices and procedures, such as relaxation techniques, the installation and bolstering of inner resources, and managing chronic pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, phantom pain, etc.

The image to the right, is a picture of the brain pre and post treatment of EMDR. The "red" on the left is areas of the brain not functioning. After EMDR treatment, you can quickly see how the "red" is mostly gone and the brain is functioning properly.


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