How Is EMDR Used for People With PTSD?


Quick Answer

EMDR, which stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is a type of psychotherapy used to treat psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, panic attacks, different types of anxiety, eating disorders, and addictions, according to WebMD. PTSD sufferers are asked to follow the movement of the therapist's fingers in front of their eyes while recalling a traumatic event. Such EMDR sessions typically last for 90 minutes.

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Full Answer

WebMD explains that the EMDR technique was developed in 1989 by the psychologist Francine Shapiro after noticing that her negative emotions were less pervasive when her eyes were moving from side to side. This observation was later tested and confirmed in several research experiments. However, several scientists have criticized the conclusions of these experiments due to the low number of participants who took part in them.

EMDR therapy is considered safe and does not produce any undesirable side effects. In spite of previous criticism, some mental health specialists have found this treatment to be effective based on data from multiple studies. The American Psychiatric Association has noted the effectiveness of EMDR therapy against PTSD, but it adds that further research is needed to assess whether these results are sustainable in time. Likewise, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have issued guidelines and recommended EMDR for PTSD treatment.

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