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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed by Francine Shapiro in 1987 to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. EMDR is an evidence-based treatment approach for children, teens, and adults that enables the accessing and processing of traumatic memories and other adverse life experiences to bring these to an adaptive resolution. After successful treatment with EMDR therapy, affective distress is relieved, negative beliefs are redeveloped, and physiological arousal is reduced. During EMDR therapy the client attends to emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Therapist directed eye movements are the most used external stimulus but also a variety of other stimuli including hand-tapping and audio stimulation are often used (Shapiro, 1991). There are over 30 controlled research studies that report benefits of EMDR for reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress.

EMDR therapy uses a three-pronged protocol: 

  1. the past events that have laid the groundwork for dysfunction are processed, forging new associative links with adaptive information;
  2. the current circumstances that elicit distress are targeted, and internal and external triggers are desensitized;
  3. imaginal templates of future events are incorporated, to assist the client in acquiring the skills needed for adaptive functioning.

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The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) is the EMDR membership organization and credentialing body that sets strict standards for the EMDR Basic Training and Consultation Process. Training faculty for ASCF’s Sponsored 2023 EMDR Learning Collaborative are all members of EMDRIA and are EMDRIA-Approved Training Providers. Trainees who fully participate and complete this training program can call themselves EMDR Therapists and are eligible to take EMDRIA-Approved advanced trainings and pursue certification.