Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro that emphasizes disturbing memories as the cause of psychopathology and alleviates the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
EMDR is used for individuals who have experienced severe trauma that remains unresolved. According to Shapiro, when a traumatic or distressing experience occurs, it may overwhelm normal cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms. The memory and associated stimuli are inadequately processed and stored in an isolated memory network.
The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories, reducing their lingering effects and allowing clients to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms. This is done in an eight-step protocol that includes having clients recall distressing images while receiving one of several types of bilateral sensory input, including side to side eye movements.
The use of EMDR was originally developed to treat adults suffering from PTSD; however, it is also used to treat other conditions and children.