EMDR Fact Sheet

EMDR Fact Sheet
"The greatest revolution in our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." - William James
EMDR stands for "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing." It was initially discovered by Frances Shapiro in 1989. Hundreds of therapists around the nation have been trained in the
EMDR techniques by Ms. Shapiro and through the work of the EMDR Network in Pacific Grove, California. EMDR is an intervention to help individuals who are survivors of any kind of traumatic event,
including - but not limited to - abuse (physical, sexual, verbal, emotional), natural disasters, accidents, personal crisis or tragedy, or war. The procedure includes facilitation of eye
movement while the person is guided through an account of the trauma. It is not necessary for the client to detail the negative experiences out loud during EMDR. The procedure can help
individuals resolve these negative experiences and to maintain a more positive self-concept, both in relation to the trauma, and overall.
The treatment of traumatic events with the EMDR method is based upon the belief that there is a physiological component to every experience. It is believed that when an incident occurs that is
"traumatic," that the brain processes necessary for information processing are disturbed. This seems to "freeze" the information in its original anxiety-producing form, complete with the
original image, negative self-assessment, and other related symptoms. Because the information has not been sufficiently processed, it continues to surface in the form of post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD), which may be characterized by intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares. These symptoms may be resolved through use of EMDR, as the special eye movements allow
the "frozen" information to be processed and integrated as part of the normal informationgathering process that we all experience after an event has occurred. The complete EMDR
process includes a three-part approach. First, the therapist must address the original incident that established the "crisis." Second, the therapist must elicit from the client the current internal and
environmental "triggers" that cause flashbacks or negative experiences. Third, a new pattern must be established by the client through EMDR to replace the previous (negative) memory

What is an EMDR session like
"During EMDR treatment, the client is asked to hold in mind an image of the trauma, a negative self-cognition, negative emotions, and related physical sensations about the trauma. While doing so, the client is instructed to move her or his eyes quickly and laterally back and forth for about 15 to 20 seconds, following the therapist's fingers. Other forms of left-right alternative stimulation are sometimes used. The client then reports the images, cognitions, emotions, and physical sensations that emerged. This procedure continues until desensitization of troubling material is complete and positive self-cognitions have replaced the previous negative self-cognition." (Wilson and Becker, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1995, Vol. 63, No. 6, 928-937). Additional steps might include the client keeping a running log of any anxiety-provoking incidents

EMDR Research

EMDR Research


EMDR as an Effective Treatment

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a therapeutic approach that is effective for resolving emotional diffculties caused by disturbing, diffcult, or frightening life events. Many experts agree that the best way to become free of the overwhelming symptoms is through carefully regulated exposure to the traumatic event. In other words, the child needs to face the traumatic memories until they are no longer disturbing.
In 1987, Francine Shapiro accidentally discovered that eye movements can decrease the intensity of upsetting memories. She went on to develop the therapy known as EMDR. This therapeutic approach helps resolve the disturbing thoughts and feelings related to the distressing memories so that children can return to their normal developmental tasks. In addition, EMDR can help strengthen feelings of confidence, calmness, and mastery. A trained EMDR therapist will carefully assess what has actually been traumatic for the youth. The therapist designs the treatment to specifically target the memories, along with the negative self- belief, and the distressing feelings. The therapist uses alternating right-left tracking that may be in the form of eye movements, tones or music delivered to each ear or tactile stimulation (i.e. hand tapping) to engage the child’s whole mind and body in the process. For example, a child might be directed to move his or her eyes back and forth while following the therapist’s fngers and focusing on the memory of the abuse, along with the belief, “it’s my fault,” and the feelings of fear.
EMDR has been used internationally to help children with a variety of different traumatic experiences such as abuse and neglect, loss of a parent, war, the Oklahoma bombings, 9/11, Katrina, earthquakes and other interpersonal and natural disasters. There are many case reports, along with empirical research on the positive outcomes for children who have been treated with EMDR following a traumatic event.



When  a  Child  / Adolescent Has  Been Traumatized
Traumatized youth often display behaviors associated with PTSD. They may have changes in their sleep patterns: trouble falling asleep, interrupted sleep, restlessness, nightmares, not wanting to sleep in their own beds, or bedwetting. Children may act out their trauma in their play with their action figures, dolls, or stuffed animals. Some become irritable, and over- react to situations, while others are numb, under react and have an “I don’t care” attitude. Hyper vigilance can be observed in some children. They lose the ability to discern between normal and dangerous situations and can misinterpret social cues, making relationships difficult. This also can be problematic in school as these children are constantly scanning their environment for danger which effects their concentration and attention. Learning issues are common in abused and neglected children.
Current research also indicates that chronic traumatization can affect brain functioning leading to problems in regulating emotions and behavior, difficulties in attachment, problems with self soothing, and self injury. For many children the trauma is influencing current actions and their bodies react without the mind understanding why. They can exhibit anger, aggression, defiance, impulsiveness, and resistance. Teachers, case workers, foster parents, and parents often interpret this behavior as oppositional, attention seeking, or uncooperative. Adults misguidedly respond to the behavior with behavioral consequences that do not always work, instead of resolving the trauma. The child is unable to respond logically as the emotional part of the brain is active, and the thinking rational part of the brain is not accessible.

EMDR Children Brochure PDF File

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a psychotherapy treatment that is effective for resolving
emotional diffiulties caused by disturbing, diffiult, or frightening life experiences. When children are
traumatized, have upsetting experiences or repeated failures, they lose a sense of control over their lives.
This can result in symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability, anger, guilt, and/or behavioral problems.
Events such as accidents, abuse, violence, death, and natural disasters are traumatic, but we do not always
recognize the ways they effect and inflence a child’s everyday life. Even common upsetting childhood
events, such as divorce, school problems, peer diffiulties, failures, and family problems, can deeply
affect a child’s sense of security, self-esteem, and development. When an upsetting, scary or painful experience
happens, sometimes the memory of the experience stays “stuck” or “frozen” in the mind and body. The
experience may return in a distressing and intrusive way and the child may cope by avoiding everything
associated with the upsetting experience. For example, a child who has experienced a bad bicycle accident
may have repeated nightmares, be fearful of trying new things, and avoid things that are associated with
a bicycle. Most experts agree that the best way to get “unstuck” and become free from the symptoms is through
exposure to the traumatic experience. This means the person will work through facing the memories or
troubling events until they are no longer disturbing.


EMDR Dual Attention Stim

EMDR Dual Attention Stimulation (DAS)

Dual Attention Stimulation (DAS) refers to the use of alternating, right-left tracking that may take the form of eye movements, tones or music delivered to each ear, or tactile stimulation, such as alternating hand taps. Creative alternatives have been developed for children that incorporate Dual Attention Stimulation, through the use of puppets, stories, dance, art, and even swimming. EMDR helps resolve the troubling thoughts and feelings related to the distressing memories so that children can return to their normal developmental tasks and prior levels of coping. In addition, EMDR can help to strengthen feelings of confidence, calmness and mastery.


Trauma may result from a single event, multiple events or a series of events chronic in nature. Traumatic events
can cause children to view the world as unsafe and can change the way they function on a daily basis. The
traumatized child may experience panic, acute anxiety, fear of death, hopelessness, helplessness, rage, and
deep sadness. If the trauma includes interpersonal violence perpetrated by a caregiver who is supposed
to protect the child, it becomes overwhelming and can cause a child to be in a constant state of fear and
anxiety. This further interferes with the child’s ability to trust or to sustain and maintain relationships. Examples
of traumatic events include: physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic violence
or community violence, witnessing a death by accident or murder, house fires, divorce, invasive medical
procedures, kidnapping, car accidents, bullying, or repeated school failures. It is not uncommon for
children involved with Child Protective Services (CPS) as a result of abuse, neglect, or abandonment to be
traumatized. When children are placed in foster care, kinship care, or adopted, the separation from their
families/caregivers can also be traumatic. Additionally, if the situation that contributed to removal by CPS
involved any of the events and subsequent reactions listed above, they are at greater risk for Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD). Frequent placements to new settings and caregivers have the potential of triggering traumatic reactions every time the child is moved.