EMDR was originally developed as a treatment for PTSD. It has been widely researched and is one of the preferred forms of therapy in treating PTSD. The uses of EMDR have expanded to include it being used as a treatment for: substance abuse, anger management and other emotional issues, anxiety, depression, RAD, and to assist in the development of coping skills.
The idea behind EMDR is that a disturbing event gets "stuck" in our brain and gets isolated from the rest of our brain. In isolation, we can't access other parts of our brain to help deal with the disturbing event. The disturbing event gets "stuck" and an individual may start developing symptoms of PTSD (e.g., they keep thinking about the event over and over, or they avoid the place where the disturbing event took place, or they avoid people who remind them o of the disturbing event, etc.).
How EMDR Works
The counselor asks the client a series of questions regarding the event.
What is the most disturbing part about the event?
What do you think of yourself as a result of the event?
What would you like to think about yourself?
How do you feel about the event?
Where do you feel it in your body?
How disturbing, on a scale of 1 to 10, is the event?
Once we get it set up, we start the reprocessing; basically, thinking about the above questions and tracking a moving light with your eyes. During this tracking, something will come up (e.g., a thought, an emotion, or some sensation in the body). Whatever it is that comes up, it is reported to the counselor. Then another set of eye tracking follows. Something will come up. This process is repeated until the even is no longer disturbing and what is being reported to the counselor is positive and more productive.
I tend to use EMDR with older children, teenagers, and adults. I mainly use EMDR in treating PTSD. I also use EMDR to assist in the development of coping skills and to reprocessing their neglect/abuse in children with RAD.