Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

  • Lawrence PatihisEmail author
  • Cristobal S. Cruz
  • Richard J. McNally
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_895-1



Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy designed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It requires clients to retrieve a traumatic memory and to visually track the therapist’s finger as he or she moves it back and forth in front of the client’s eyes. The aim is to desensitize the client to traumatic memories such that their recollection ceases to provoke intense emotional distress EMDR also involves reprocessing and reappraising thoughts related to the events. It resembles other cognitive-behavioral therapies for PTSD, such as prolonged imaginal exposure, except that EMDR involves repeated, brief exposures to the memory as well as induction of bilateral eye movements hypothesized to facilitate emotional processing and recovery. Controlled studies indicate that EMDR is more efficacious for PTSD than no treatment and similarly effective as some exposure and cognitive...


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Negative Cognition Traumatic Memory Memory Reconsolidation Imaginal Exposure 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence Patihis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cristobal S. Cruz
    • 1
  • Richard J. McNally
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA
  2. 2.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Bradley A. Green
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA