EMDR therapy: Everything you need to know

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR, is a technique that some psychotherapists use to treat people experiencing psychological distress.

Francine Shapiro, an American psychologist, developed EMDR therapy in the late 1980s.

Practitioners initially used it to treat people with traumatic memories, but they now use it to treat a variety of disorders, including:

The therapy consists of eight phases. During the treatment, people recall traumatic experiences while moving their eyes back and forth. The therapist will direct this eye movement.

The eight phases of EMDR therapy are as follows:

Phase 1: Client history and treatment planning

Phase 2: Preparation

Phase 3: Assessment

Phase 4: Desensitization

Phase 5: Installation

Phase 6: Body scan

Phase 7: Closure

Phase 8: Reevaluation

However, practitioners use it to treat a variety of other conditions and issues, including:

  • addiction
  • anxiety
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • chronic pain and phantom pain
  • depression
  • eating disorders
  • panic attacks
  • psychotic symptoms
  • self-esteem issues
  • stress-induced flare-ups of skin problems

Preliminary research supports its application for some of these issues, such as psychotic symptoms and chronic pain.


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