Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

May 31, 2007 | Evidence Reports


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that is used to treat the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR aims to 1) facilitate the resolution of memories, 2) desensitize patients to stimuli that trigger present distress, and 3) teach patients adaptive attitudes, skills, and behavior to enhance daily functioning.

EMDR combines aspects of a wide range of theoretical orientations including cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, and interpersonal therapies with rhythmic eye movements that are designed to facilitate cognitive changes and a decrease in anxiety. The eye movement component of the therapy involves the patient moving his/her eyes horizontally or vertically back and forth for a period of about 20 to 30 seconds following the therapist's fingers During this time, the patient is asked to think about the negative emotions, memories, or cognitions associated with the trauma. The negative associations are then processed with the intent of replacing them with positive or neutral ones. According to the EMDR treatment manual, patients may require up to 12 weekly sessions.

EMDR is typically offered in a...

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