image of Genetics of Eating Disorders in the brain
    Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

    What Is EMDR

    Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a comprehensive treatment approach that utilizes several psychotherapy elements for the healing from trauma.

    Some of the elements of eye movement desensitization include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapies, experiential therapy, psychodynamic, interpersonal, and body-centered therapies.

    Developed by an American psychologist in the late 1980s, EMDR has been utilized as an effective form of treatment to overcome the many devastating effects that often result from psychological trauma.

    EMDR Therapy

    Through an EMDR therapy session, a specialized therapist leads a patient through a series of lateral eye movements while the patient simultaneously concentrates on a traumatizing or disturbing memory.

    EMDR therapists may utilize other forms of bilateral stimulation, including tactile stimulation through the use of a handheld device with a patient’s hands or through the use of headphones to create alternating bilateral sounds. The theory behind this form of psychotherapy is that this approach allows an individual to more effectively process traumatic memories in the brain [1].

    For the person who is suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), EMDR can be a helpful form of therapy for working through traumatic experiences at the root of this mental health illness.

    What is PTSD

    PTSD is often triggered through the experience of a traumatic event, and utilizing EMDR as a form of treatment for processing memories associated with the traumatic event can allow a person to heal.

    The effectiveness of EMDR in treating PTSD has been proven in research, which has demonstrated how individuals can heal and recover through this form of therapy.

    Young man on reception at psychologistStudies have also shown that people who have experienced a traumatic event, such as through the loss of a loved one, the experience of a natural disaster, accident, military combat, or sexual abuse, have found relief from emotional distress after three EMDR sessions [2].

    Seeing Improvements

    Other research has validated that individuals with PTSD see improvement for at least 15 months through the assistance of EMDR treatments.

    If you are suffering with an eating disorder and suspect that trauma or PTSD is underlying this mental illness, it is important to seek out the appropriate help you need. Therapists must be specialized in the EMDR technique in order to utilize this method of treatment.

    If you have tried other forms of treatment and have found little success, consider the EMDR treatment approach for healing from trauma and PTSD.

    Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

    What has been your experience with EMDR therapy and PTSD? How has this form of treatment assisted your recovery journey?


    1. “What is EMDR?”, Trauma Recovery EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs, http://www.emdrhap.org/content/what-is-emdr/

    The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

    Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 7th, 2015
    Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Eating Disorder Hope in 2005, driven by a profound desire to help those struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. This passion resulted from her battle with, and recovery from, an eating disorder. As president, Jacquelyn manages Ekern Enterprises, Inc. and the Eating Disorder Hope website.