Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a type of a short term psychotherapy that helps in healing emotional distress caused by traumatic events or experiences. EMDR utilizes different forms of bilateral stimulation, such as: side-to-side eye movement, tapping on the hands or arms, buzzers in hands, and headphones with beeps. The bilateral stimulation has to go from left to right which simulates the way our brain processes thoughts and memories which helps in reliving and reconstructing the disturbing memory with more control and in a safe environment.
EMDR was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro who had discovered the effects of eye movements used in EMDR while she was taking a walk one day. She noticed that the distressing thoughts she had been having were disappearing and when she tried recalling them, they seemed less charged. In this manner, EMDR uses similar brain mechanisms to those in REM sleep (the interval of sleep associated with processing our memories and emotions, as well as dreaming).
EMDR is an eight-phase approach that consists of: history & treatment planning, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and re-evaluation. EMDR can be used as a part of therapy for patients with PTSD, CPTSD, dissociative disorders, addictions, and anxiety.