What is Eye Movement Therapy (EMDR)?

Eye Movement Therapy (EMDR) means “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing”. EMDR was created in 1987 by Francine Shapiro after a random observation. Shapiro realized that many stressful thoughts that came into his mind disappeared as he moved his eyes back and forth very quickly. After that, he continued to improve the method.

eye movement therapy (emdr)
Source: @miratherapeutics

According to the EMDR Institute, more than 30 EMDR studies have been performed with positive outcomes, and 84-90% of single trauma victims no longer have PTSD after only three 90 minute sessions. 

Eye movement therapy (EMDR) is a supportive and relaxing method. It was originally for people with mental trauma. By 2018, people found that it could help many other diseases.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

Eye Movement therapy (EMDR) is an eight phase therapy process that involves:

1- Treatment planning
2- Preparation and learning
3- Processing & Reprocessing: identifying negative self belief
4- Desensitisation through bilateral stimulation
5- Installation of positive self belief
6- Closure & Reevaluation

Significant and permanent signs of recovery during EMDR usually begin to appear after 3 sessions. EMDR therapy assumes one’s self-healing power as a natural driver for maturation and an innate tendency. In this sense, the therapist can activate the self-healing power of the beneficiaries.

During an Eye movement therapy (EMDR), the two hemispheres of the brain are synchronized with active and dual stimulation for past events. Stimulation of the brain hemispheres was initially achieved only by controlled eye movements. This REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is in accordance with the sleep phase. Operating our eyes with rapid movements is probably a kind of spiritual digestion process during the REM phase of sleep.

Also, eye movement therapy uses auditory and kinesthetic stimulations. By combining several senses, the halves of the brain can stimulate more complexly, which can lead to further stimulation of the process. However, without the patient’s data, it does not heal or change with eye movement therapy. Therefore, EMDR is strongly targeting/aiming to activate the patient’s own resources as it is ultimately the source of recovery.

Eye movement therapy is one of the most amazing treatments of the past decades. It is most effective in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), people who struggle with depression or panic attacks. This intriguing treatment has a groundbreaking effect on many people. Anyone who has found themselves emotionally able to separate themselves from the traumas they have experienced.

what is eye movement therapy (emdr)? 1
source: @clini.soul

Bilateral stimulation is a rhythmic right-left pattern of stimuli that could be either visual, auditory, or tactile. Often eye movement therapy is administered during a therapy session by following a therapist’s hand moving in a right-left pattern, but it can also be administered using vibration tools, pings, or lights. Dr. Shapiro discovered this method of using bilateral stimulation to treat PTSD after observing her own negative emotions associated with distressing memories decreases when she moved her eyes back and forth.

Thanks to the work of Dr. Francine Shapiro, EMDR is now a common treatment method for trauma survivors and has changed thousands of lives.


Are There Harms Or Side Effects Of EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy re-processes the negativities experienced in the past by establishing a connection between the unconscious and consciousness, between the present and the past. It does this with double stimulation (eye movements).

It is very natural that people want to receive therapy in processes that cannot be suppressed and digested, and where past experiences are forced and overwhelmed. However, some people think that the therapy will be harmful and there will be side effects and they are worried about it.

During the therapy process, people may have worries such as “What if I get very depressed? If my troubles get worse…”

In this section, we consider whether EMDR therapy has side effects and harms.

With EMDR, we are entering points that you may not be able to explain to many people, even yourself, and that you do not want to face. Of course, we don’t get into these issues right away. As you feel comfortable and trust your therapist, you begin to share. These issues are discussed as long as you share and feel comfortable.

Even when he shares his troubles, that feeling of overwhelm can be reflected in the therapy room. Therefore, EMDR therapy is progressed in accordance with the tolerance window. (We explained this subject in detail in the related topic.)

In EMDR therapy, we take care to stay at a moderate level of emotional triggering. Therefore, EMDR therapy is not a method to be feared.

Last Updated on December 11, 2022 by Lucas Berg


2 thoughts on “What is Eye Movement Therapy (EMDR)?”

  1. Hi
    I have strongly believed in changing a persons environment when dealing with addiction and substance abuse issues. Trauma related issues can also be alleviated in a similar way if they can be implemented in the addict/victims life.
    I was told about EMDR and came across your article after researching it.

    I use head movement and aural recognition when treating clients by way of positive surroundings and new environments.
    You’d be surprised at how effective a counselling session can be when done outdoors, or in an environment where the affected is compelled to feel relaxed enough to focus on whats going on aurally, instead of orally, which always leads to a focus on the traumatic event/ addiction.

    I will be following your work closely in regards to EMDR and thank you for publishing an explanation in a way that can be understood, without the need for training( not that training isnt necessary for total understanding of course!)

    Fox the mentor

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