Founded in 1989 by Dr. Francine Shapiro, who discovered that while walking and thinking about disturbing memories, that her eyes were moving back and forth. After she was done walking, she noticed that the originally disturbing memories were no longer disturbing.
After much research, Dr. Shapiro realized that she was on to one of the most effective treatments for trauma, PTSD, and many other issues. The eye movements she was experiencing, known as "bilateral stimulation," helped her brain process through the trauma she had experienced. Similar to REM sleep, the bilateral stimulation actually can help the brain process through "stuck" memories. Bilateral stimulation can involve eye movements, tapping, sounds, and other techniques.
The difference between EMDR and other traditional forms of talk therapy is that EMDR can help the brain process every aspect of the trauma, to include thoughts, feelings, images, smells, sounds, and body sensations associated with the memory. While traditional forms of therapy can help the client realize certain aspects of the memory or issue, and teach them skills to cope with the disturbing aspects of the memory, EMDR can help the client actually move on from the memory or issue, so that it's no longer an issue.