EMDR and Cancer Trauma: A Tool To Support Healing

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Blog | Oct, 21 2018

EMDR and Cancer Trauma: A Tool To Support Healing


The relationship between trauma and cancer can go both ways. Trauma can be a long-time foundational stressor which kicks in the cancer process. Other times, a cancer diagnosis can create its own trauma. A well-established psychological tool called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) Therapy has been shown by several studies to help ease cancer trauma in oncology patients. It may be something for you to consider if you are currently healing from Breast Cancer.

EMDR Lessens the Grip of Trauma and PTSD

EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. That is a big name for a somewhat complicated but very fascinating and highly successful modality for dealing with trauma. EMDR has been helping individuals with all kinds of trauma for almost thirty years. Recently, professionals have begun to use it for pain management, anxiety disorders, eating disorders and more. (To watch a FREE webinar about the 7 steps for beating breast cancer naturally, Click Here)

EMDR sessions are led by psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors that are trained in the modality.

The process is simple.  The practitioner speaks with the client about past events that led to trauma. At the same time, the therapist exposes the client to “external stimuli” which most of the time are eye-related stimuli that produces lateral eye movements. However, the stimuli could also be auditory, such as hand tapping or audio input.

According to the EMDR Institute, after successful treatment with EMDR therapy, “affective distress is relieved, negative beliefs are reformulated, and physiological arousal is reduced.” Research conducted by clinical psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro in the late eighties suggests that EMDR is so effective against trauma because it “facilitates the accessing of the traumatic memory network, so that information processing is enhanced, with new associations forged between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories or information.”

In layman’s terms, EMDR can significantly help ease cancer trauma. It can lead to creating new beliefs and insights about a past trauma and  the reduction or even elimination of emotional stress associated with that event, 

The Connection Between Trauma and Cancer

The link between traumatic events in a person’s past and cancer diagnosis has long been verified in the literature. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, i.e. PTSD) throws the body into long-term fight-or-flight response, or extreme chronic stress. Chronic stress is directly connected to the development of cancer.

Likewise, sometimes merely sitting in the doctor’s office and hearing the news that one has cancer can create trauma,

In EMDR, eye movement is used to rewire the brain  about a traumatic past event.

depending on the circumstances and how that cancer patient’s doctor tells the news.

At the time that the cancer news is received, a person may experience racing pulse, numbness, confusion, disorientation and dizziness. These are all normal signs of “shock.” The trouble comes, however, when the effects of these events linger with us long after the trauma occurred. For a complete list of PTSD effects, check out this recent Breast Cancer Conqueror blog.

EMDR Can Help Ease Cancer Trauma

Studies have also revealed what EMDR can do for those affected by cancer trauma.

In 2016, researchers at the University of Milano-Bicocca as well as the Italian Association for Psychosomatic Medicine in Milan, Italy found that EMDR promoted self-healing by stimulating the immune system and creating new adaptive processes in the brain.

The Italian investigators also stated that pinpointing specific memories and potential traumas which may have led up to the cancer as well as the trauma of the “cancer event” itself may assist in bringing the body back into balance to assist in healing both the trauma and the cancer.

I continue to be fascinated by the intricate connection between “healing our emotional wounds” (Essential #4 in my 7 Essentials System®)  and reversing cancer. Our emotional traumas can sometimes catapult us into a stress response for decades. Using modalities like EMDR cools the flames of chronic stress in almost all cases. In many cases, it helps to eliminate the hold a trauma may have on a person altogether.

And when this happens, the body moves in to the “relaxation response” where your miraculous body begins producing healing hormones instead of destructive ones. It is when the body is in the “relaxation response” and not the “stress response” that a healthy breast journey can truly begin.


Dr. Veronique Desaulniers (“Dr V”) is the founder of Breast Cancer Conqueror.com and The 7 Essentials System®. This step-by-step guide empowers you with knowledge so you Never Have to Fear Breast Cancer Again! To watch a FREE webinar about the 7 steps for beating breast cancer naturally, Click Here


  • Google EMDR therapists in your city to find a therapist. I highly recommend EMDR therapy as I went through it for 3 months during chemo for breast cancer in 2014 and it was very effective in healing deep emotional wounds.