What Is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing?


Each individual who suffers from PTSD must find a way to conquer his or her trauma and move on. The best PTSD treatment center will provide you with a variety of treatment options as well as the time, resources, and support needed to heal.

Many PTSD treatment centers are incorporating a new type of therapy into their programs. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a unique approach to connecting mind and body for healing.

EMDR Overview

Dr. Francine Shapiro, the founder of EMDR, believes that the type of eye movement that occurs during REM sleep is related to how our memories, emotions, and physical sensations develop and fix in our minds. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation to activate eye movement similar to that in REM sleep. In this state, patients may be able to break up and revise the memory of their trauma.

EMDR treatment begins with the patient speaking with an EMDR-trained psychologist or therapist. Together, the patient and EMDR practitioner identify memory targets related to the patient’s trauma. After a few sessions in which the patient and practitioner identify memory targets, the actual EMDR treatment can begin.

Experiencing EMDR

During the initial sessions, the practitioner will work with the patient on skills for managing stress, taking notes and journaling, mindfulness meditation, and other strategies. These methods will help the patient deal with the feelings that may arise through the EMDR process.

When the practitioner decides the patient is ready for treatment, they will ask the patient to select one target memory related to their trauma. This specific memory will be the focus of that day’s session.

While the patient focuses on their target memory, the practitioner will use bilateral stimulation methods to disrupt the memories of the trauma. The most common bilateral stimulation method involves the practitioner moving their fingertips back and forth as the patient follows their fingers with their eyes without moving their heads. Other types of bilateral stimulation include tapping on the back of the patient’s hands or playing audio bilateral tones.

EMDR attacks the memories of physical sensations, visual trauma, and negative beliefs related to a patient’s PTSD. While some patients will have more success with EMDR than others, the option of trying this type of treatment is one of the benefits of attending an in-patient PTSD treatment program. EMDR is just one of many therapy options available at the best PTSD treatment center.

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