Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative therapy technique developed in the late 1980s to treat posttraumatic stress disorder in Viet Nam veterans. It has come to be recognized as an effective treatment for many types of trauma, as well as disturbing symptoms caused by stressful life events, by the American Psychiatric Association, the Department of Defense, and the International Society for Traumatic Stress.
In their many forms, trauma and stress can overwhelm the information processing system of the brain, storing memories in dysfunctional form, unable to link with memory networks containing adaptive information. EMDR uses structured protocols and procedures that include bilateral stimulation (e.g., eye movements, taps, or tones) to access the memories, stimulate the information processing system, and guide the information to an adaptive resolution. (Research has indicated that the eye movements are associated with an automatic relaxation response and may link into the same brain processes that occur during REM sleep. They seem to impact working memory.)
The results of EMDR therapy include the alleviation of symptoms, increased insight, and personal growth. Effects are quite rapid.