Since its initial development in 1987, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has been used to help many people recover from the persisting effects of traumatic experiences. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) designate EMDR as an effective treatment for PTSD.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the cluster of symptoms that people experience following a traumatic event. Symptoms may include:
- Haunting memories
- Intense distress at certain "triggers"
- Avoidance of certain people, places, or things
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Outbursts of anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Being "on the alert"
- Startling easily
- Restricted emotion
Trauma may be described as any event that prompts intense fear, helplessness and horror. Examples of traumatic experiences are: childhood abuse, natural disaster, battle/war experiences, a car accident. Lesser traumas (i.e. not life-and-death related) also respond well to EMDR.
During an EMDR session, short sets of rapid eye movements (or other forms of bi-lateral stimulation) are used to accelerate the processing of "frozen-in-time" traumatic material (thoughts, emotions, physical sensations). To learn more about EMDR and its wider application, please access the links below.
This is the official site of the EMDR International Association. Visit this site to find out what an EMDR session is like, get answers to FAQs, and explore the latest research.
EMDR and First-Responders
Video clip from ABC News: Tampa Police Confront Trauma