EMDR – A Treatment For PTSD

The ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have shed light on the unfortunate reality of war’s effect on the mind. Studies have shown that upon returning from battle the number of soldiers afflicted by post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to by its acronym PTSD, is steadily increasing. For those struggling with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, EMDR may be an effective treatment to reduce the distressing affect and memories, allowing for a fuller life. More and more clinicians are being trained in EMDR and if you are suffering from a traumatic event, this technique may be able to help.

But PTSD isn’t isolated to veterans and those exposed to combat zones. PTSD has been shown to be caused by any trauma that threatens one’s life or emotional well-being and or an event that causes intense fear. A car accident, assault, natural disaster or being a victim of abuse can all be stimuli that see the onset of PTSD. Victims can experience vivid memories or flashbacks of the trauma, avoid certain places that remind them of the trauma and show symptoms of hyperarousal, such as irritability, sleeping problems and being easily startled.

There are many accessible routes to treating PTSD, such as medication and psychotherapy, but great results have been achieved with eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing, EMDR. EMDR began in 1987 when Francine Shapiro, a Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute, made a startling observation whilst she was walking in the woods. Dr. Shapiro was focusing on a distressing event and noticed she felt relief as here eyes moved back and forth looking amongst the trees. Her rather simple observation has evolved in to a field that has been deeply researched, which has proven that lateral eye movement, audio sound or hand tapping techniques employed whilst the client focuses on the past trauma or disturbing material. The detailed mechanisms for how EMDR works is still under investigation, but it is hypothesized to increase the ability to process the event, reduce the distress and may be related to rapid eye movements (REM) in sleep.

A 2007 study in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry compared EMDR, medication (Prozac) and a placebo to determine their efficacy during treatment and 6 months later. The results showed EMDR created “substantial and sustained reduction of PTSD and depression in most victims of adult-onset trauma.” Compared to placebo, both medication and EMDR were equally superior, however at 6 months 58% of EMDR subjects were asymptomatic compared to none in the medication group.

If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD, EMDR may be a way to help ease depressive symptoms and start your healing process.

So-Mai Brown M.F.T.I #58368 *Under the Supervision of Catherine Auman, M.F.T

Tags from the story


  • I’m very grateful for the field of Psychology and Psychiatry and the progress in these fields in the areas of PTSD, etc. Looks like EMDR is a great tool in therapy. Curious to learn more. So glad for the internet and search engines that lead me to good information like this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *