What is EMDR?

EMDR, for its acronym (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), is a therapeutic system and technique created by Dr. Francine Shapiro and her collaborators in 1987. EMDR uses the brain's natural ability to adapt and heal through Bilateral Stimulation (visual, auditory, tactile) to "mobilize" memories and fragmented memories in different parts of the brain that can be sensations, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. When the information is mobilized and associated, the negative memory is desensitized and loses its emotional charge and intensity; likewise, positive memories or resources are associated, and the memory is susceptible to an interpretive and integrative change.

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How does EMDR Therapy work?

terapia emdr costa ricaHow EMDR works is something that is still a hypothesis. However, the theories that have greater acceptance are:

The first one was by Van den Hout et al., 2011. That saccadic eye movements interfere with how working memory processes information. The benefits occur due to the limited capacity of working memory when it is simultaneously focused on Dual Attention (eye movements and negative memory). Because of this, the memory becomes less vivid and loses its emotional charge.

terapia emdr san jose costa ricaThe second one from Andrade, 1992; Lipke, 1999 Stickgold, 2002, explains how information is processed when sleeping in the R.E.M sleep phase. Researchers have shown that saccadic eye movements induce a relaxation response that psychophysiologically decreases arousal. The hypothesis is that the relaxation response is a reaction to changes in the environment, part of an orientation response that is elicited by changes in attention caused by repeated bilateral stimulation. (Shapiro, 2012. The New York Times) There are different models for conceptualizing the role of orientating response. 1. Cognitive information processing. 2. Neurobiological 3. Behavioral. (EMDR Institute 2022)

The EMDR model has focused since 1987 on the treatment of the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder related to past traumatic events, and the treatment of different types of trauma, including Complex Trauma, a lesser-known term; which is associated with situations of unspecified extreme stress continued over time, such as incest, sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment in childhood.

And so, with the research, the way was opened to work with:

  •   Depression and Suicidal Ideation
  •   Postpartum depression
  •   Grieving
  •   Prenatal or postnatal grief
  •   Anxiety
  •   Phobias
  •   Panic attacks
  •   Chronic pain
  •   Phantom limb pain
  •   Migraines
  •   Attachment disorder or relationship problems
  •   Self-harm and suicidal behavior
  •   Schizophrenia, Psychosis
  •   Dissociation, depersonalization, derealization
  •   Sleep disorders
  •   Personality disorders
  •   Developmental disorders

emdr san jose costa ricaAmong many other psychosocial problems like:

  •   Post-surgery recovery
  •   Marital or interpersonal relationship problems
  •   Sexual desire problems
  •   Memory problems
  •   Difficult behaviors
  •   Sexual violence
  •   Traffic accidents
  •   Bullying
  •   Workplace Harassment

Several protocols have been developed to work with specific health problems (not only mental health). There are group protocols that can be used both in therapy groups and in organizations, as well as other protocols that work on the problems of the present and those of the (imagined) future. Its use will vary depending on the reason for consultation or what the person needs.

Some of the most prestigious recognition that EMDR Therapy has are:

In 2004, the American Psychiatric Association named EMDR equal in status to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for effective treatment to alleviate symptoms of Acute and Chronic Post Traumatic Stress.


In 2017, the American Psychological Association recognized EMDR as a recommendation for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress in Adults.

In 2018, the International Society for Post-Traumatic Stress Studies recommended the empirical effectiveness of EMDR on treatments for infants, adolescents, and adults.

You can also see more information about EMDR efficacy on the web page of the EMDR Institute.


The informed Trauma approach to psychological trauma brings together the latest theories developed for successful work and scientific evidence from various theories of trauma and healing that have been developed over the last 40 years. They highlight physical and emotional security as a transversal axis of all psychotherapeutic interventions that focus on the user developing a sense of control.

The trauma-informed approach recognizes and pays special attention to the imprints that traumatic experiences leave on the body, especially brain structures and their functioning.

The informed approach to psychological trauma emphasizes the -No re-victimization- of people in health services and part of "knowing the story" to reduce or eliminate associated symptoms, improve coping skills and offer hope about the recovery of tranquility and enjoyment of everyday life in their lives.

If you have been under medication for a long time, from one professional in Psychology and or Psychiatry to another, for many years, it is time to try EMDR.

If you've had multiple diagnoses throughout your life, it's time to try EMDR.

If you've tried various therapies, cognitive behavioral, psychoanalytic humanistic, or don't even know what approach they were, and you haven't improved, it's time to try EMDR.

Similarly, your therapist will tell you if your problem is suitable for EMDR.

It is essential to let you know that currently, I´m not working with Addictions or Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. But there are specific protocols with significant evidence and efficacy in this field, especially in Addictions.

Want to learn more?

I invite you to visit my Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section so you can delve into more details about EMDR Therapy in Costa Rica.

  Visit our FAQ's


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