What is EMDR therapy and AF-EMDR therapy?

What is EMDR?

EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, which is a powerful and effective method of therapy for treating trauma. Trauma may be best be defined as “a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing” [1].

EMDR therapy incorporates eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation into an in-depth, comprehensive, mind-body approach to processing pieces of distressing experiences that are stuck in the mind and body—in a way that positively transforms the memory, physiological sensations, emotions and beliefs associated with the experience [2]. EMDR has extensively been researched over the past few decades as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and is considered to be an evidence-based therapy for trauma [3 & 4].

In addition to treating PTSD, EMDR is also used to treat the mental and emotional effects of a wide variety of smaller traumas that manifest as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, phobias, creativity blocks, and relationship difficulties [2]. What differentiates EMDR therapy from something like medication per se is that EMDR therapy enables us to treat and address the causes of the issues rather than just treating symptoms.

What is Attachment-Focused EMDR?

The development of Attachment-Focused EMDR began in 1991. This modified protocol of the therapy was developed by Laurell Parnell by whom I was trained personally. Dr. Parnell developed AF-EMDR for clients who have typically been less responsive to traditional EMDR protocols, who had experienced things such as childhood physical or sexual abuse, neglect, early losses, birth trauma, medical trauma, parental drug or alcohol abuse, caregiver misattunement, or secondary trauma [2].

AF-EMDR therapy might be a good fit for you if you struggle with anxiety, depression, not feeling fully alive, not enjoying life, difficulty making important decisions and taking action, intense emotional reactions to certain situations or people, difficult relationships in the family with whom you grew up, or issues in your relationships as an adult. Processing and healing can occur much more rapidly than with talk therapy alone, and clearing these negative effects often results in people experiencing greater joy, peace, meaning, depth, openness, and connection in their lives and relationships.

If any of these sound like things you have experienced or things with which you struggle, please email or call me to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation.

In my experiences, Attachment-Focused EMDR is a more client-centered, flexible and intuitive method of EMDR. I have found that Attachment-Focused EMDR enables and creates healing in ways that simply are not possible with talk therapy alone. EMDR enables us to effectively work through a wide variety of triggers or things we haven’t been able to let go of, and genuinely move forward in our lives and relationships.


  1. http://centerforanxietydisorders.com/what-is-trauma/

  2. http://parnellemdr.com/emdr-and-af-emdr/?fbclid=IwAR2ZvmEa7uxLvVm072RTVpA5SMXdOtM3j4dJc8H2ks1a-tghX-RuAgRFtqs

  3. http://www.emdr.com/efficacy/

  4. https://www.emdrhap.org/content/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Research_2015.pdf