What is EMDR? Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Author: Floyd Else, MA, LMHC (ret.), NCC, MAC

Posted on May 26, 2020


EMDR, the acronym or abbreviation for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is used to relieve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems, originally using only movements of the eyes similar to those which occur naturally in REM sleep. In the American Psychiatric Association "Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder", EMDR is given an equal status with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as an effective treatment for relieving symptoms of PTSD.

How Do You Know You are Suffering from PTSD or showing PTSD Symptoms?

If you have ever been the victim of a robbery, a rape, a traumatic accident or injury of any kind for example, you may find yourself suffering from PTSD symptoms just as severe as the Vietnam vet who gets flashbacks when he hears the "chop-chop" sound of a helicopter flying overhead.

The problem results from the way your brain stores memories and feelings together. Often the fragrance of flowers, or sounds waves against the shore can trigger a pleasant memory from the past and you feel again the peacefulness and happiness of that moment in time.

But some memories are associated with such extreme emotions that a seemingly insignificant sound or smell may suddenly trigger overwhelming feelings of terror and the need for you to hide or escape. The sound of footsteps in the hallway, the echo of sounds in a parking garage, the smell of burning wood or flesh or the unexpected touch of a friend may leave you engulfed by fear and anxiety at times when others nearby are startled and bewildered by your behavior.

You might seek medication or any kind of psychotherapy to resolve the problem, but the recommended techniques are CBT, a very structured talk therapy process, and EMDR, a research-developed technique that commonly involves eye movements and the concept of "reprocessing the experience." The goal of EMDR is to separate the memory of the event from the violent and extreme emotional states that have been associated with it in your memory. After EMDR treatment, you will be able to think of the event without triggering the extreme emotional response.

EMDRIA (EMDRIA – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing – International Association), formed in 1995, provides professional support for clinicians trained in EMDR. EMDRIA sets standards for training, provides ongoing professional education, provides a forum for discussion and the development of EMDR, and encourages quality research.

In 1999, EMDRIA launched its professional development programs, including the EMDRIA Credit Program (continuing education in EMDR) and the Certification Program for (1.) Certified Therapist in EMDR and (2.) Approved Consultant in EMDR.

Contact information: EMDR International Association, 5806 Mesa Drive, Suite #360, Austin, Texas 78731. Tel: (512) 451-5200, Toll Free in the US: (866) 451-5200, Email:

For more information on Eligibility Requirements for EMDR Certification click here.

More about PTSD.

EMDRIA Certified EMDR therapists in Washington State listed with Counseling Washington

EMDR therapists and EMDRIA-Certified Therapists are therapists who specialize in treating PTSD or trauma related clients specializing in EMDR. These therapists however may have varying levels of EMDR training.

EMDRIA-certification is a program offered by EMDRIA – an association which provides training beyond the EMDR standard protocol. The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) is a professional association where EMDR practitioners and EMDR researchers seek the highest standards for the clinical use of EMDR. EMDR is an accepted psychotherapy by leading mental health organizations throughout the world for the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. In addition, EMDRIA-Certified therapists also earn a minimum of 12 credits of advanced EMDR courses every two years. You can differentiate them by looking for “EMDRIA Certified” within their credentials.

Below you will find EMDRIA Certified EMDR therapists and counselors located in Washington State that are also a member of our therapist directory.

Judith Capili, MA, LMHC, EMDRIA Certified EMDR Therapist, Seattle, WA 98103

Rosie Carey, MA, LMHC, EMDRIA Certified EMDR Therapist, Kirkland, WA 98033

Insurance Coverage

EMDR is approved by most insurance companies and professional organizations for treatment of PTSD.

See: Clinical Practice Guidelines for more information from EMDRIA.

EMDRA: Basic Eligibility Criteria for Mental Health Professionals to Apply for EMDR Certification

  • "Qualifying Medical Doctors must have specialist training in Psychiatry AND also must be licensed."

  • "Qualifying Registered Nurses must have a Master’s Level psychiatric nursing degree AND also must be licensed and/or registered through their state or national nursing board."

  • "Qualifying Mental Health Clinicians must have completed a Master’s level or Doctorate level Graduate Program with a focus in the mental health field (social work, counseling, psychology) AND also must be licensed or certified through their state or national credentialing board."

  • "Clinicians who have completed a program in one of the following fields must submit detailed information to EMDRIA about the program that they completed in order to determine their eligibility: Art Therapy, Dance Therapy, Drama Therapy, Poetry Therapy, Music Therapy, Psychodrama Therapy, Hypnotherapy, and Drug & Alcohol Counseling. These clinicians will also need to submit their current license or certification through their state or national board in order to determine their eligibility for registering for an EMDRIA Approved Basic EMDR Training."


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