What is Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing?

EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy modality that has been shown to be effective with individuals who have experienced large "T" traumas (ex. car accident, combat) and small "t" traumas (ex. invalidating environment). It has eight phases of treatment including case conceptualization, treatment planning and information processing referred to as "Adaptive Information Processing" (AIP). AIP helps to transform traumatic maladaptive memories into adaptive memories using bilateral stimulation including eye movements and tapping.

By learning new ways to cope and manage emotions in the presence of a trusted other, the client becomes able to rebuild a healthier perspective of the world and his or her self. In the assessment stage, the client will discuss their target memory along with any symptoms, negative thoughts or beliefs they may still be experiencing as a result of the traumatic experience.


The intervention includes an intervention where the therapist guides the client’s eye movements from side to side using their fingers or even a light bar. They may even use tactile pulsers, or tappers as they are commonly called, which are placed in the hands for bilateral stimulation. The therapist will then guide the client through a process known as desensitization to help you fully process your negative feelings and begin to recognize that you no longer need to hold on to some of them. Once the experience is processed, future sessions are devoted to reinforcing and strengthening positive feelings and beliefs, and a client may even be able to think about the memory without experiencing the negative thoughts and emotions that brought them to therapy in the first place.

Kelly Smyth-Dent, LCSW Interview

Kelly Smyth-Dent, LCSW, along with Dr. Ignacio Nacho Jarero, created the Acute Stress Syndrome Stabilization Procedure and the ASSYST-Remote for Telebehavioral Health. Having access to remote therapy during the Covid-19 pandemic is important, especially during this time of social distancing when therapists are looking for creative ways to help their clients. Kelly is the CEO of Scaling Up a company dedicated to inform the masses about the benefits of EMDR therapy and AIP-informed procedures and to make EMDR-based individual and group intervention trainings and services more accessible and affordable to therapists, clients and organizations. Through these networks, training opportunities and services, we aspire to global healing through rapidly scalable and effective mental health interventions. ASSYST-R is a mental health procedure that can be performed remotely.


Click the links below to find out more about EMDR.


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