Richard Meldener DC.
Diplomate of the ICAK
International College of Applied Kinesiology, Rome, Italy, March 19-22 2004
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective clinical procedure
used in psychotherapy. It facilitates psychological treatments . I have observed it can also
facilitate the treatment of physical disorders.
EMDR is a psychotherapeutic approach which enhances classical psychotherapy. It was
developed by Francine Shapiro for the treatment of people with post traumatic stress disorders
(PTSD). Survivors of sex abuse, crime and combat as well as sufferers of phobias and a
variety of other experientially based disorders.
EMDR was discovered in Spring 1987 by a chance observation by Francine Shapiro PhD :
« While walking one day, I noticed that some disturbing thoughts I was having suddenly
disappeared… . I started to pay very close attention to what was going on. I noticed that
when disturbing thoughts came into my mind, my eyes spontaneously started moving very
rapidly back and forth in an upgrade diagonal. When I brought these thoughts back to mind,
they were not as upsetting or as valid as before … their negative charge was greatly reduced.
I started making the eye movements deliberately while concentrating on a variety of
disturbing thoughts and memories, and I found that these thoughts also disappeared and lost
their charge…»
Shapiro discovered the desensitizing effects of spontaneous repeated eye movements when
combined with traumatic and stressfull related thoughts : images, beliefs, emotions, physical
responses and increased awareness.
Francine SHAPIRO
Francine Shapiro has a PhD in psychology. Since 1989, she has published many papers and
books on EMDR. Her major publication is « EMDR » (Reference 1). She is a Senior Research
Fellow at the Mental Research Institute of Palo Alto, California. She recieved the
Distinguished Scientific Achievement in Psychology Award by the California Psychological
EMDR combines two different activities together :
Memorisation of the trauma :
The patient is requested to think about the traumatic event . He/she concentrates on either the
entire traumatic event, or on the most upsetting aspect of the trauma or on the various aspects
of it. He/she enters into the memory of the trauma with each of his/her five senses.
Eye movements
As the patient thinks about the traumatic event, he/she is instructed to do side to side eye
movements without head rotation. He/she is conducted in this eye exercise by watching the
operator’s swinging fingers. The operator swings his/her fingers from the patient’s left to the
patient’s right and vice versa. The operator’s swinging right hand and fingers should be 12 to
14 inches away from the patient’s face. This eye exercise starts slowly and speeds up to the
maximum comfortable speed. This eye movement activity should not create any pain, dryness
or anxiety. If it does, eye movement directions and/or speed are adapted to the patient’s
convenience. For example the eye movement can be changed and go from lower left to upper
right and from upper right to lower left.
The first set of eye swings consists of 24 bidirectional movements. Sometimes up to 36
bidirectional movements are necessary to help the Post Traumatic Stress .
EMDR THEORY : The information processing model
In EMDR when the patient brings up the memory of the trauma this seems to establish a link
between consciousness and the brain memory storage site.
Shapiro advances the concept that PTSD are caused by disturbing information stored in the
nervous system. She uses EMDR to produce an altered brain state to modify the behavior of
the information processing system.
Neurobiological investigators still have not provided a definitive explanation for EMDR. A
number of physiological studies are being carried out and theoretical suggestions have been
put forth to link the effect of EMDR to REM sleep, dual attention and/or bihemispheric
Various publications have validated the efficiency of EMDR both in civilian studies
(Reference 2 to 15) and in studies of combat veterans (Reference 16 to 23).
My working hypothesis has been : if EMDR facilitates psychotherapy. EMDR should also
facilitate the treatment of physical disorders and be approached using Applied Kinesiology
Instead of combining psychotherapy and eye movement, I have combined :
Stimulation of the physical disorders and
eye movements as introduced by Shapiro.
For example if a patient complains about his right knee following a ski accident, I treat the
right knee as usual. I then apply the EMDR procedure. I have the patient stimulate his/her
injured right knee and combine the knee stimulation with eye movement as discussed
paragraph V/2. Stimulation of the knee can be done either by tapping it, or moving it or
Therapy Localizing it, or even better, all 3 stimulations together..
Another example would be a patient complaining about digestive disorders . First I treat his
gut as usual. Then I have him/her stimulate the gut by either therapy localization to the gut or
to some gut-related reflex such as a neurolymphatic reflex or by ingestion of food known to
stress the gut. This gut stimulation is combined with eye movements discussed paragraph V/2.
I have observed manual muscle testing normalisation after using this protocol as well as
elimination of acute neurolymphatic reflex pain .
I have used it in the following sequence :
1/ Usual treatment first
2/ Pain control if necessary
I have sometimes used EMDR on the emotional side of traumas as Shapiro recommends : eye
movements + discussion of various facets of the trauma. I have done this only in situations
that are easy to handle. In deep psychological and emotional Post Traumatic Stress
Disorders, I stay away from discussing the issue which I might not be able to handle.
The efficiency of EMDR on emotional disorders has been demonstrated and validated by
numerous authors. I have adapted EMDR and applied it to physical disorders. I have found
EMDR to speed up recovery time and prevent the discorder from recurring.
I have only used 24 bidirectional eye movements (sometimes up to 36) EMDR procedure
once or twice per physical discorder treated. I have not used Dr Shapiro’s routine. It consists
of repeating multiple 24 bidirectional eye mouvements. This is done while discussing
multiple aspects of trauma-related disturbing thoughts and memories.
1. EMDR, Eye Movements Desensitization and Reprocessing, Basic Principles,
Protocols and Procedures, 2001, Guilford Press, NY,
Civilian studies
2. Chemtob, Nakashima, Hamada, and Carlson. 2002. Brief treatment for elementary
school children with disaster related PTSD. A field study, Journal of Clinical
Psychology, 58, 99-112
3. Devilly
and Spence, 1999. The relative efficacy and treatment distress of
EMDR and a cognitive behavioral trauma treatment protocol in the amelioration of
posttraumatic stress discorder . Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 13,131-157
4. Edmond, Rubin, and Wambach, 1999. The effectiveness of EMDR with adult female
survivors of childhood sex abuse , Social Work Research, 23, 103-116
5. Ironson, Freund, Strauss, and Williams, 2002, A comparison of two treatments for
traumatic stress : A community based study of EMDR and prolonged exposure,
Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58,113-128
6. Lee, Gavriel, Drummond, Richards, and Greenwald. In press. Treatment of Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder : A comparison of stress inoculation training with
prolonged exposure and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Journal of
Clinical Psychology
7. Marcus, Marquis, and Sakai, 1997, Controlled study of treatment of PTSD using
EMDR in an HMO setting, Psychotherapy, 34, 307-315
8. Renfrey, and Spates, 1994, Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing : A partial
dismantling procedure. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 25,
9. Rothbaum, 1997, A controlled study of eye movement desensitization and
reprocessing for posttraumatic stress discorder sexual assault victims. Bulletin of the
Menninger Clinic, 61, 317-334
10. Scheck, Schaeffer, and Gillette, 1998, Brief psychological intervention with
traumatized young women : The efficacy of eye movement desensitization and
reprocessing, Journal of Traumatic Stress, 11, 25-44
11. Shapiro 1989, Efficacy of eye movement desensitization procedure in the treatment of
traumatic memories. Journal of Traumatic Stress Studies, 2, 199-223
12. Vaughan, Armstrong, Gold, O’Connor, Jenneke, and Tarrier 1994, A trial of eye
movement desensitization compared to image habituation training and applied muscle
relaxation in post traumatic stress discorder, Journal of Behavior Therapy and
Experimental Psychiatry, 25, 283-291
13. D. Wilson, Silver Covi, and Foster, 1996, Eye movement desensitization and
reprocessing : Effectiveness and autonomic correlates, Journal of Behavioral Therapy
and Experimental Psychiatry, 27, 219-229
14. S. Wilson, Becker, and Linker, 1995, Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
(EMDR) treatment for psychologically traumatized individuals, Journal of Consulting
and Clinical Psychology, 63, 928-937
15. S. Wilson, Becker, and Linker, 1997, Fifteen month follow-up of eye movement
desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) treatment for PTSD and psychological
trauma. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 1047-1056
Studies of Combat Veterans
16. Boudewyns, Stwertka, Hyer, Albrecht, and Sperr, 1993, Eye movements
desensitization and reprocessing : A pilot study. Behavior Therapy, 16, 30-33
17. Boudewyns and Hyer, 1996, Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
as treatment for post-traumatic stress discorder (PTSD) Clinical Psychology and
Psychotherapy, 3, 185-195
18. Carlson, Chemtob, Rusnak, Hedlund, and Muroaka. 1998. Eye movement
desensitization and reprocessing for combat-related posttraumatic stress discorder.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, 11, 3-24
19. Devilly, Spence and Rapee. 1998. Statistical and reliable change with eye movement
desensitization and reprocessing : Treating trauma with veteran population. Behavior
Therapy, 29, 435-455
20. Jensen. 1994. An investigation of eye movement desensitization and reproduction
(EMD/R) as a treatment for posttraumatic stress discorder (PTSD) symptoms of
Vietnam combat veterans. Behavior Therapy, 23, 311-326
21. Pitman, Orr, Altman, Longpre, Poire, and Macklin. 1996. Emotional processing
during eye movement desensitization and reproduction therapy of Vietnam veterans
with chronique post traumatic stress disorders, Comprehensive Psychiatry, 37 , 419429
22. Rogers, Silver, Goss, Oberchain, Willis, and Whitney.1999.A single session ,
controlled group study of flooding and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
in treating posttraumatic stress discorder among Vietnam war veterans : Preliminary
data, Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 13,119-130