Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories (Shapiro, 1989a, 1989b).
It accessed traumatic memories and other adverse life experiences in order to process them and to offer a different way of thinking about these memories. After treatment distress is relieved associated with difficult memories and new beliefs around these events are formed.
The therpist assess suitability and help the person prepare for this trauma work. Once preperation work is completed, trauma targets are identified and the psychologist works through these using bilateral stimulation. This traditionally was eye movements but a variety of other stimuli including hand-tapping and audio stimulation are often used. EMDR is a structured three part 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.