Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

What is EMDR?

  • While Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) borrows components from other effective and well-established psychotherapies, it is an innovative combination of emotional, somatic, sensory, and cognitive elements.
  • In EMDR, a disturbing issue is recalled together with associated affective, somatic, and cognitive components.
  • While the disturbing event is recalled, a person is briefly exposed to bilateral stimulation (such as rapid alternating eye movements). He or she is able to control the pace of the recall of the disturbing event.

What Is the Background of EMDR?

  • EMDR was first used by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987 for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • As of June 2000, EMDR was the subject of more controlled studies listed in the PTSD PILOTS database than any other treatment modality.
  • EMDR recently received an A/B effectiveness rating from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
  • It meets criteria established by the American Psychological Association task force on psychological interventions.

What Are the Indications for EMDR?

The Center is involved in ongoing research into the benefits of EMDR for the following disorders:

  • Sexual and/or physical abuse
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Phobias
  • Performance anxiety
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Complicated grief
  • Depression

What Are the Contraindications for EMDR?

  • EMDR should only be practiced by specially trained and certified therapists.
  • EMDR may impair testimony in legal cases.
  • Special precautions may need to be taken in offering EMDR to people who are neurologically impaired, suicidal, experiencing psychosis, or have severe dissociative disorders or unstable substance abuse.

​Contact Us

UPMC Center for Integrative Medicine
Shadyside Place
Suite 310
580 S. Aiken Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

For general information or to schedule an appointment, call 412-623-3023.


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