EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing.  EMDR is a therapy that was developed in the late eighties in the USA by Francine Shapiro. It was first used with combat veterans with PTSD, but has quickly come to be useful for eliminating all the symptoms associated with stress and trauma (from PTSD symptoms like flashbacks, panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, anxiety and phobias, through the continuum to depression, over-reactive anger, worrying, disturbed sleep) and so on—it could be almost anything we’re referring to when we say we’re ‘stressed out’.

What can EMDR be used for?

In addition to its use for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), EMDR has been successfully been used to treat:

Anxiety and panic attacks.
Complicated grief
Pain relief
Self-esteem and performance anxiety

Can anyone benefit from EMDR?

EMDR can accelerate therapy by quickly resolving the impact of your past traumas and allow you to live more fully in the present. It is not, however, appropriate for everyone. The process is rapid, and any disturbing experiences, if they occur at all, last for a comparatively short period of time.  You need to be aware of and be willing to experience the strong feelings and disturbing thoughts, which sometimes occur during sessions.

How long does treatment take?

EMDR can be a brief focused treatment or part of a longer psychotherapy programme. EMDR sessions can last from 60 to 90 minutes.  Some issues could be resolved in a single session while others might take several sessions.

Will I will remain in control and empowered?

During EMDR treatment, you will remain in control, fully alert and wide-awake. This is not a form of hypnosis and you can stop the process at any time. Throughout the session, I will support and facilitate your own self-healing and intervene as little as possible. Reprocessing is usually experienced as something that happens spontaneously, and new connections and insights often arise quite naturally from within. As a result, most people experience EMDR as being a natural and very empowering therapy.

What evidence is there that EMDR is a successful treatment?

EMDR is an innovative clinical treatment which has successfully helped over a million individuals. The validity and reliability of EMDR has been established by rigorous research.  Approximately 20 controlled studies have investigated the effects of EMDR. These studies have consistently found that EMDR effectively decreases/eliminates the symptoms of post traumatic stress for the majority of clients. Clients often report improvement in other associated symptoms such as anxiety.
The current treatment guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies designate EMDR as an effective treatment for post traumatic stress.  EMDR was also found effective by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and many other international health and governmental agencies. Research has also shown that EMDR can be an efficient and rapid treatment.  (Information from:  www.emdrcanada.org).
For more information on EMDR go to:


Karen Searle, M.S.W., R.S.W.
544 George Street North
Peterborough, Ontario
M9H 3S2 ~ 705-875-7442

Photo:  Southhampton, Lake Huron, Ontario