What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. It is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from different treatment approaches combined with bilateral stimulation of the brain. EMDR has been recommended by the American Psychiatric Association and is a standard method for treating PTSD.

Courtesy of EMDR International Association

How does EMDR work?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is guided by the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, which was developed by Francine Shapiro. AIP is based on the theory that trauma is stored and stuck in the brain’s neural network. Memories of a traumatic event bring up the negative feelings and thoughts associated with the event. The therapist uses bilateral stimulation (BLS) to add adaptive emotions to the neural network. BLS involves alternating eye movements, sounds, or sensations, such as tapping or vibrations, to create new neural pathways and to access the stored trauma. This allows for the reprocessing of the trauma and a reduction of associated anxiety, and creates new associations with memories as well as increasing adaptive behaviors.

Why do traumatic events sometimes result in PTSD or other problems?

According to the AIP model, a traumatic experience can become frozen in time in the brain’s neural network. When a traumatic memory is encoded in its distressing form, the feelings, thoughts and behaviors that were induced by the original trauma can be triggered by various internal and external events. This can result in inappropriate emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions, and in symptoms such as high anxiety, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, etc.  For example, scary or abusive childhood events can be stored with survival instincts and feelings of danger that are inappropriate for adults. These past events were not appropriately integrated into adaptive networks.

In this regard, a negative self-belief such as “I am not good enough”  is not believed to be the cause of the present problems. The negative belief is a symptom of the unprocessed earlier life experiences. Attitudes, emotions, and sensations are not just reactions to a past traumatic event; they are derived from the brain’s stored perceptions and memories. Present symptoms are the result of memories being activated, memories that were never processed and properly stored in the brain. EMDR differs from cognitive and behavioral therapies in that directed belief restructuring and behavioral manipulation are not the change agent, instead the change occurs in the brain’s neural network.

For additional information, please visit EMDR Institute, Inc.

What can EMDR be used for?

The use of EMDR is a proven useful treatment for many issues including Complicated Grief, Dissociative Disorders, Disturbing Memories, Phobias, Sexual and/or Physical Abuse, among others. If you experience distressing emotions that seem to you (or to others), to be excessive given the current situation, or if you are highly reactive to certain triggers, EMDR may be the right treatment for you.

EMDR Therapy with Kids Explained to Parents and Caregivers - YouTube


Contact me today and let’s talk about it.


42 Henley Road
Wynnewood, PA 19096

(484) 213-3616

Got Questions?
Send a Message!

By submitting this form via this web portal, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via this unencrypted email and electronic messaging and wish to continue despite those risks. By clicking "Yes, I want to submit this form" you agree to hold Brighter Vision harmless for unauthorized use, disclosure, or access of your protected health information sent via this electronic means.