EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It was invented by Francine Shapiro in 1987. Since this time EMDR Therapy has developed further and is now used regularly for the treatment of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). More controversially it used to treat depression, anxiety, and phobias.

EMDR works by activating both the right and left sides of the brain while recalling an traumatic event. This allows the memory to be reprocessed and the emotion attached to it to be released. The activation of the left and right sides of the brain is normally achieved through eye movement: the practitioner or therapist will instruct you to hold your head still and track your eyes from left to right and back, up and down or diagonally. Although it is called EYE MOVEMENT desensitization and reprocessing eye movements are not essential and when a patient for some reason cannot make eye movements then sound or touch stimulation can be used.

EMDR has been recognised as a treatment approach for PTSD by NICE – see this information booklet for patients: