How was EMDR Developed?

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In 1987, psychologist Francine Shapiro discovered, by chance, that her voluntary eye movements reduced the intensity of negative, upsetting thoughts. Dr. Shapiro studied the impact of EMDR on reducing the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Vietnam combat veterans and victims of sexual assault. She found that this new method showed promise in decreasing the nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive negative thoughts of the participants in her investigation.

Since 1989, EMDR has developed through the contributions of trained clinicians and researchers from all over the world. EMDR is now a complex method that brings together elements from the major clinical theoretical orientations, including psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, and client-centered. There are eight phases of EMDR treatment (Shapiro, 1995), to be utilized by licensed mental health professionals only after completion of an approved training curriculum.

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