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What Is EMDR? (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based treatment for trauma. Its theoretical basis is described by the adaptive information processing model. This information handout is a simple one-page introduction to EMDR.

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Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a distinct therapuetic approach which uses bilateral stimulation (of which eye movements can be an example) to aid the integration (processing) of distressing information. EMDR is commonly used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and this is where the majority of its evidence-base currently lies, although EMDR is increasingly being used to treated other conditions in which disturbing memories play a part. 

What Is EMDR? is a one-page information sheet describing the key principles of EMDR. It is helpful to use this as a handout for clients who may want information before choosing between EMDR and trauma-focused CBT.


This is a Psychology Tools information handout. Suggested uses include:
  • Client handout - use as a psychoeducation resource
  • Discussion point - use to provoke a discussion and explore client beliefs
  • Therapist learning tool - improve your familiarity with a psychological construct
  • Teaching resource - use as a learning tool during training


  • Shaprio, F. (2001). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures (2nd edition). Guilford Press.
  • Solomon, R. M., Shapiro, F. (2008). EMDR and the Adaptive Information Processing Model. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 2(4), 315.