EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing) was developed by Francine Shapiro primarily as a treatment for trauma. It is a NICE recommended treatment (www.nice.org.uk), along with trauma focussed CBT, for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma responses. EMDR has also been found by therapists to help other difficulties such as phobias, other types of anxiety disorders and chronic pain conditions.
EMDR works by using sets of eye movements (or alternatives such as taps) in order to trigger alternate left-right brain stimulation, which has been found to help process disturbing memories. When a memory has not been processed by the brain in the usual way, it gets stuck in the emotional part of the brain (amygdala) and continues to have a negative impact on a person in their day to day life.
The aims of EMDR are to assist and allow the brain to process these disturbing memories effectively, which results in being able to recall the memory without the emotional and physiological disturbance that previously accompanied it, thus reducing distress and symptoms that were previously troublesome.