Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
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What is it?

As a powerful new method of psychotherapy, EMDR has helped an estimated half million people of all ages relieve many different types of psychological distress.

In 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts under certain conditions.  Dr. Shapiro studied this effect scientifically and, in 1989, she reported success using EMDR to treat victims of trauma in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.  Since then, EMDR has developed and evolved through the contributions of therapists and researchers all over the world.  Today, EMDR is a set of protocols that incorporate elements from many different treatment approaches.

What Kind of Problems Can EMDR Treat?


Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for posttraumatic stress.   However, clinicians have reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:

  • Posttraumatic stress

  • Phobias

  • Panic Attacks

  • Performance Anxiety

  • Dissociative Disorders

  • Stress Reduction

  • Sexual and/or Physical Abuse

  • Disturbing Memories

  • Complicated Grief

  • Anxiety Disorders

  • Addictions

Does Insurance Cover EMDR? If your policy covers standard psychotherapy, it most likely will cover EMDR.  Currently, the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) is working toward establishing a specific EMDR code for insurance reimbursement.
What is an EMDR Session? During EMDR, the therapist works with the client to identify a specific problem to be the focus of a treatment session.  The client calls to mind the disturbing issue or event, what was seen, felt, heard, thought, etc., and what thoughts and beliefs currently are held about that event.  The therapist performs sets of eye movements while the client focuses on the disturbing material, and the client just notices whatever comes to mind without making any effort to control direction or content.  Each person will process information uniquely, based on personal experience and values. 
One or more sessions are required for the therapist to understand the nature of the problem and to decide whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment.  The therapist also will discuss EMDR more fully and provide an opportunity to answer any questions about the method.  Once therapist and client have agreed that EMDR is appropriate for a specific problem, the actual EMDR therapy can begin.  
A typical EMDR session lasts about 90 minutes.  The type of problem, life circumstances, and the amount of previous trauma will determine how many treatment sessions are necessary.  A single session of EMDR is sufficient in some cases.  however, a typical course of treatment is 3 to 10 sessions, performed weekly, or every other week.  EMDR may be used within a standard “talking” therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment by itself