EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a newer therapy method used principally to treat trauma and related anxiety problems. It was developed by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro in the late 1980's. It is more comprehensive than the name suggests, incorporating a full spectrum of psychological factors into a complete and detailed treatment protocol. Originally Dr. Shapiro thought that rapid eye movements, while a person focused on a disturbing issue, were a key factor. Now we know that auditory and tactile stimulation seem just as effective as eye movements. It is still unclear, however, why EMDR
works so efficiently or what exactly is its healing mechanism. It
certainly helps people integrate disturbing experiences faster than by
just talking about them. Is it the bilateral stimulation of brain
hemispheres, the divided attention required, the counteraction by a
relaxation response, or the fact that it encourages an alert,
present-time orientation? I've been doing EMDR since 1994 and I'm still
In the video clip below, Bessel van der Kolk, MD describes three changes in brain functioning following trauma. Bessel is one of the world's leading researchers in trauma treatment.
To see EMDR in action, click on these YouTube videos.
My particular interest is the application of EMDR to positive psychology, empowerment, and confidence building. This is a newer direction in the field and quite an exciting one. I have developed a modified EMDR protocol called Put Your Best Foot Forward which helps people get in touch with overlooked resources, forgotten strengths, and powerful moments that were registered in the subconscious. These personal assets are then used to reprocess some area of chronic difficulty. It's a very positive therapy that at minimum gives people a tool to use, and may also recalibrate a range of connected difficulties.
To search for an EMDR therapist in your area, visit any of the following sites: