top of page
EMDR-Zone Logo

Neurobiological Response to EMDR Therapy in Clients with Different Psychological Traumas

Written by: Pagani, M., Di Lorenzo, G., Monaco, L., Daverio, A., Giannoudas, I., La Porta, P., ... & Siracusano, A. (2015).

Edited by: EMDR-Zone Editorial Team

Content Warning: Please be advised, if you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 898. Free, private support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Cortical activation shifts and significant score decreases, indicating EMDR's effectiveness in symptom reduction for most clients. 

Struggling with trauma? EMDR aims for lasting well-being.

Introduction and Background

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has emerged as a pivotal intervention for individuals grappling with the aftermath of psychological traumas. The global prevalence of trauma and its subsequent disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has necessitated the exploration of effective therapeutic modalities. While the limbic system, responsible for processing emotions, has been identified to undergo significant alterations in PTSD patients, EMDR has been recognized as an evidence-based treatment for PTSD, often outperforming pharmacotherapy in terms of sustained symptom reductions.

Methods and Materials

The research design was meticulous, involving 40 psychologically traumatized clients. These participants were categorized into two distinct groups based on the nature of their traumatic experiences. One group comprised individuals who had undergone diverse traumas, while the other consisted of those who had been through a specific traumatic event, such as an earthquake. The study employed EEG (electroencephalography) to meticulously compare and analyze cortical activation changes during EMDR sessions. The overarching aim was to delve deep into the neurobiological effects of psychotherapy on clients exposed to varying traumatic experiences and to elucidate the dynamics of neuronal activity during therapy.

EMDR's Mechanism

EMDR therapy is a multi-faceted approach encompassing eight distinct phases, commencing with history-taking and culminating in reevaluation. During the therapy, clients are prompted to recall distressing images while concurrently receiving bilateral sensory input, such as side-to-side eye movements. The primary objective of EMDR is to holistically address and reprocess past, present, and potential future issues related to traumatic events. As these traumatic memories are desensitized and reprocessed, there's a marked remission in post-traumatic symptoms, leading to enhanced mental well-being.

Neurobiological Findings