EMDR Therapy, or Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), is a novel, evidence-based, and effective psychotherapy for a wide range of pathological situations, including but not limited to addictions; somatoform disorders; sexual dysfunction; eating disorders; adult personality disorders; mood disorders; reactions to severe stress; anxiety disorders; performance anxiety; OCD; pain; neurodegenerative disorders; and childhood and adolescent traumatic disorders (PTSD).

In 2014, EMDR Therapy, a once-novel psychotherapy widely accepted as an empirically supported treatment for trauma and PTSD, celebrated its 25th anniversary of introduction. Francine Shapiro, an American psychologist, came up with EMDR after realizing, by chance, while strolling through a park, that side-to-side eye movements [EMs] lessened the intensity of disturbing thoughts.

The Benefits of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Trauma therapists created EMDR Therapy to aid in the processing and subsequent release of traumatic memories. If you have ever been through a traumatic experience, you know the power it can have over you. Nightmares, flashbacks, and feelings of isolation from anxiety can severely damper your daily activities.

It Has Been Proven to Work

EMDR Therapy has been proven to be a successful treatment for PTSD and other trauma-related conditions. The American Psychological Association, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the UK Department of Health support it. Most patients experience positive results from EMDR therapy, and the outlook for recovery is excellent.

Treatment Is Tailored to Your Needs

When you begin EMDR therapy, your therapist will ask questions about your traumatic experiences. By doing so, they can better evaluate the situation and decide with you how to proceed with treatment. Your therapist will develop a treatment strategy after discussing these incidents with you that will assist you in associating these memories with a more relaxed reaction. Since EMDR Therapy is such a focused form of therapy, you can be sure that your trauma-related condition will be addressed. At least initially, many therapies do not consider the patient’s unique needs. This requires specialized training, which EMDR therapists have received.

Effects Can Be Maintained

There is evidence that suggests EMDR therapy has positive long-term effects. Patients benefit more from EMDR than other forms of therapy and experience fewer trauma-related symptoms even months after their treatment. EMDR Therapy is typically applied over a few months, so the patient and the therapist will collaborate until treatment is “over,” at this point, they will evaluate the patient’s progress and decide whether treatment should continue. Long after their treatment, patients are expected to continue to reap its advantages.

It is Shorter Than Other Trauma Therapies

Some people combine EMDR Therapy with talk therapy. CBT and talk therapy are effective treatments for issues that may persist for the rest of the patient’s life or for minor problems that arise frequently. EMDR Therapy is designed to deal with a serious problem that’s upsetting a person quickly. It typically lasts for several months and aids those who cannot find relief from severe trauma symptoms with other forms of long-term therapy.

How EMDR Works

Scientists have proposed models to help understand how EMDR therapy works. We summed up all those models to strengthen the evidence that is out there for this effective treatment for PTSD and other conditions.

First, in terms of classic conditioning theory, Dyck (the first author to provide an account of EMDR’s underlying mechanism; Dyck, 1993) describes the orienting and relaxation responses that occur during the therapy. He contended that reliving the traumatic event during the desensitization session would be similar to putting the memory through an extinction trial.

Baddeley and Hitch presented the multicomponent model of working memory in 1974 (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974). According to this theory, data from various “slave” subsystems can be integrated and coordinated with the help of a “central executive” system. The phonological loop is one such subsystem, and it is responsible for storing both verbal and aural data. Another option is the visual notepad, which keeps track of maps and other spatial data.

Working memory theory suggests that the visuospatial sketchpad is where memories are stored during EMDR therapy. According to the working memory hypothesis, the two tasks require limited visuospatial, sketchpad, and central executive working memory resources. Degradation of a traumatic image in working memory, according to the working memory account, helps patients gain perspective on the event. As a result of resource competition, even disturbing images will lose some of their power and impact.

Based on her revised principles and procedures for EMDR, Shapiro hypothesized that the EMs and the dual attentional task caused specific psychophysiological changes that may underlie treatment efficacy. as a brain-inhibitory mechanism to reduce anxiety associated with the traumatic memory.

In vivo, examination of structural and functional brain changes is now possible thanks to the development of non-invasive neuroimaging techniques like the electroencephalogram (EEG), single-positron emission computed tomography (SPECT), near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), and structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI, fMRI).

Studies in non-clinical populations have attempted to account for the therapeutic benefits of EMDR through altered interactions between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. In particular, the EMs in EMDR are thought to improve associative memory processing and episodic memory retrieval by increasing communication between the brain’s two hemispheres via the corpus callosum.

According to empirical studies conducted, the thalamus has been found to play a crucial role in integrating perceptual, somatosensory, memorial, and cognitive processes, also known as thalamocortical temporal binding or neural global mapping over the past decade.

How Brain Process Changes in EMDR

Processing models such as freezing, AIP, and consolidation were developed by scientists and introduced to us to better understand the mechanism of action. Here, we lay out the most widely accepted framework for interpreting your brain’s transformation due to treatment. 

This model, known as adaptive information processing, suggests that your brain has a built-in information processing system responsible for assimilating and storing new information in neural networks. Therefore, your associated thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations with the trigger event will be the products of these networks. 

For instance, the emergence of symptoms characteristic of post-traumatic stress results from the inadequacy of information processing in traumatic situations. The misinterpreted data can be reinterpreted by simultaneously stimulating both sides of your brain.

EMDR and PTSD Therapy

People with PTSD experience many distressing symptoms, including flashbacks to the traumatic event, nightmares, intense physical tension, mood and thought changes, and sleep disturbances (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). 

If PTSD is treated too late or left untreated, the risk of chronification dramatically increases. Therefore, learning more about the factors that can lead to increased treatment adherence and success is crucial. 

Our Insight Clinic therapists answer your questions, educate you about available options, and strongly encourage you to take informed steps based on your preferences to facilitate shared decision-making.

Since EMDR has been proven an effective treatment for PTSD, it has become very popular and demanded by many demographics. Researches show that many people prefer psychotherapy over medication on preferences for trauma treatment. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the World Health Organization have endorsed EMDR as an effective treatment for PTSD.


EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy effectively treats various mental health conditions, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression. It can also help individuals process traumatic memories, reduce the intensity of associated negative emotions, and improve overall mental health outcomes. Contact our therapists and ask them if you are a good fit for this option.  

EMDR Therapy, sensory stimulation therapy

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic