EMDR Definition

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This structured therapy uses bilateral stimulation to help patients desensitize their response to traumatic experiences and reprocess their emotions. “Bilateral stimulation” refers to using a stimulus on both sides of the body in a rhythmic left-right pattern, such as following a therapist’s fingers or listening to an auditory cue.

In a standard EMDR therapy session, the therapist uses bilateral stimulation while the patient focuses on a traumatic memory. The left-right movement is thought to help the brain desensitize and reprocess the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors associated with a distressing experience. EMDR sessions can be repeated multiple times and are generally paired with other coping strategies the patient can use between sessions.

EMDR is a relatively new therapy method, in comparison to other methods of treatment. EMDR therapy is helpful for patients with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and it has been used in people of all ages—from children to adults.