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EMDR Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

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What is EMDR Therapy?

Dr. Francine Shapiro discovered EMDR Therapy in 1987 while she was walking in a park, and noticed that she had some upsetting thoughts and feelings that suddenly disappeared.  It has now been extensively researched and has been recognised highly effective therapy by the global health organizations. 


Our brains have a natural way to recover from traumatic memories and events. This process involves communication between the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (which assists with learning, including memories about safety and danger), and the prefrontal cortex (which analyses and controls behaviour and emotion). While many times traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously, some traumatic experiences may not be processed without help. 


Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create feelings of overwhelm, of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories, and allows normal healing to resume.  The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.”

EMDR therapy helps children and adults of all ages. Therapists use EMDR therapy to address a wide range of challenges:

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias

  • Chronic Illness and medical issues

  • Depression and bipolar disorders

  • Dissociative disorders

  • Eating disorders

  • Grief and loss

  • Pain

  • Performance anxiety

  • Personality disorders

  • PTSD and other trauma and stress-related issues

  • Sexual assault

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Substance abuse and addiction

  • Violence and abuse


Therapists use bilateral stimulation to activate the brain in processing the memories which mimics the process of REM sleep.  This can be done by clients following the therapists fingers, following a light bar, holding tappers or by listening through audio bilateral headphones. 

EMDR therapy uses evidence based protocols to support the clients through the memories that are needing to be processed in therapy.

Susan is a member of EMDR NZ.

other information on EMDR please visit

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