Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an 8-phased psychotherapy treatment designed to alleviate symptoms of trauma. The theory is based on the belief trauma is stored and “stuck” in the brains neural network. Any memory of traumatic event causes the child to connect to the negative feelings and cognition associated with it. The goal is to add adaptive behaviors to the neural network. This is accomplished through bilateral stimulation, a process that creates new neural pathways and the ability to access the stored trauma. This allows for the reprocessing of the trauma and reduction of associated anxiety, thereby creating new associations with memories and increasing adaptive behaviors.
EMDR can be used with children and adolescents aged 2 to 17 who have experienced trauma or PTSD or adults who have experienced trauma or PTSD. Length of treatment is dependent upon severity of trauma. Major gains are often apparent within 3 to 12 sessions. Each session is usually 50 or 90 minutes. EMDR is conducted in a hospital, outpatient clinic, community-based agency, group or residential care, or school setting. EMDR has materials available in English, Danish, Dutch, Flemish, French, German, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, and Swedish.

Target the past events that trigger disturbance; Target the current situations that trigger disturbance; Determine the skills and education needed for future functioning; Reduce subjective distress; Strengthen positive beliefs; Eliminate negative physical responses; and Promote learning and integration so that the trauma memory is changed to a source of resilience.