What Is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.

“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 reported success using EMDR to treat victims of trauma. Following this initial discovery, many treatment studies were conducted, and there are now more published treatment outcome studies on EMDR than any other treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (Description from the Australian EMDR Association). “

This process is very intimate and requires a great level of trust in the therapist.  This takes time to build.  We built such a trust over time and EMDR could begin coupled with medications to control the depression, crippling anxiety and mood swings.

“During EMDR, the therapist works with the client to identify a specific problem as a focus for the treatment session. The client then calls to mind the disturbing issue or event, what was seen, felt, heard, thought, etc. The therapist will then begin eye movements or other bilateral stimulation. These eye movements are used until the memory becomes less disturbing and is associated with a positive thought and belief about yourself. (From the EMDR Association).”
Often for me, we would not target a specific event but would commence the process and an event would erupt.  I would find myself in uncontrollable tears as I relived the death of a child, a rape, vicious beating or whatever traumatic memory was obviously being dealt with by my subconscious.  At the end of the EMDR process, we would talk about the material and process, lessening its power.  Often as not this would take several sessions to endure and would at times appear to have been overcome when it would reflux itself back under EMDR again some months later when another detail was rekindled.  I would often attempt to exit the room only to be held in the safe arms of the therapist on whose shoulders I would be able to let go my long held in tears and pain.  She would persuade me to remain in the room and sit back down and recommence the session.  If it was too painful, we would just talk.  She skilfully would bring me back to the here and now and never let me leave that room under the influence of EMDR, always ensuring I was living in the present once again.


  1. I’m curious about how EMDR therapy happens. Do you just sit and move your eyes back and forth? Do you watch a metronome or does your therapist hold an object for you to follow with your eyes?
    Are you discussing the trauma/event while moving your eyes?
    Does the desensitization come from the brain using a different area than memory to keep the eyes moving?
    The whole process sounds very interesting. I’d never heard of it before reading about it on your blog🌻

    • You follow the therapist finger/s. You can discuss material as it comes up under EMDR or afterwards that preference is individual. I discuss it as it comes up. It becomes very real for me and I am taken back to the time that is brought up by the EMDR process such as an abuse situation. Then after the EMDR session is finished we process it by talking through what has happened using ‘talk therapy’. I have found it to be the best therapy I have used so far. It is hard work and can be very distressing so you have to build a very strong therapeutic alliance with your therapist which I have. I trust her completely. The part of the brain involved is the amygdala. Hope this answers your questions. Thanks for asking them. All the best Erin.

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

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