What Is EMDR? How It Heals and Who It Helps

EMDR is one of the therapeutic tools I use when working with clients who have experienced a traumatic life event. It is an accelerated information processing modality. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. In my practice, I use tapping or pulsars as my preferred method. My clients tend to prefer this method.

Francine Shapiro, then a graduate student, developed the theory in the late 1980’s while walking through a park one day. Inexplicably, Francine noticed the disturbing thoughts she was having seemed to disappear. She started paying close attention to her thought process to learn why this happened. What she noticed was that when she had a disturbing thought, her eyes would move rapidly, in a back and forth motion. As a result, the thought would leave her consciousness and when she tried to recall it, it had lost most of the negative charge it had once carried. She began to practice the technique daily; she would think of a disturbing thought and then move her yes rapidly. Each time she did the exercise, the disturbing thought stopped.The theory has since evolved when it was discovered the bilateral stimulation; using sound, eye movement, or taps, all resulted in the disappearance of the disturbing thought. EMDR has been proven to be a successful modality when working with PTSD and traumatic memory.

It does not erase the memory, it dissipates the emotional charge associated with the memory and enables clients to move past the pain of the experienced trauma and fully back into their lives.

The following are examples of traumatic events where EMDR is used:

  • PTSD
  • Sexual abuse
  • Car accidents
  • Witnessing a violent crime


Jamie Rizzo

Jamie Rizzo

I am an LMFT serving all of California through Teletherapy.