When most people think of therapy, they think of talking about their problems and feelings. And while that is certainly a big part of therapy, there is much more to it than that. In fact, one of the most effective forms of therapy is called EMDR.
EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a type of therapy that uses bilateral stimulation (usually eye movements) to help the brain process and heal from trauma. It was originally developed to treat PTSD, but has since been found to be effective for a variety of other mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression.
The technique is based on the idea that when painful and traumatic memories aren’t fully processed, post-traumatic stress disorder can result. You then relive those unprocessed memories when certain sights, sounds, words, or odors trigger them.
In this article, we’ll explore the procedure and the benefits of this effective psychotherapy.
Let’s begin without further ado!
8 Phases of EMDR Therapy
Phase 1: Taking a History
You will first create a therapy plan and treatment objectives with your therapist. This may involve discussing your past, the emotional symptoms and triggers you encounter, and your goals for treatment. If you would benefit from additional therapies or treatments in addition to EMDR, your therapist may decide this as well.
Phase II: Preparation
In this phase, your therapist will teach you specific techniques to help you feel more in control during the EMDR therapy process. You’ll also learn how to identify any negative thoughts or emotions that may come up during treatment so that you can effectively deal with them.
Phase III: Assessment
During this phase, your therapist will help you identify a specific memory to target during treatment. This memory should be something that is causing you distress but is not too overwhelming for you to process.
Phase IV-VII: Treatment for Desensitization
In this phase, the actual eye movement or other forms of stimulation will begin. You’ll focus on the targeted memory while your therapist guides your eyes back and forth in a specific pattern. You may also be asked to hold certain hand movements or listen to tones through headphones. After the desensitization phase, you’ll work on replacing any negative thoughts or emotions associated with the memory with positive ones. For example, if the memory is of a traumatic event, you may work on replacing the fear and helplessness you felt with strength and resilience. Further, you’ll do a full-body scan to check for any residual physical tension or stress. If any is found, you’ll work on releasing it through relaxation techniques or other means.
Phase VIII: A Reassessment
You and your therapist will assess the results of the therapies, the memories that have been revealed, and the memories to focus on the following session at the closing of each therapy session.
Now that we’ve discussed the procedure, let’s dive into the benefits of this therapy.
5 Benefits of EMDR Therapy
When compared to conventional therapy, EMDR therapy adopts a new strategy, and problems that patients have tried to talk through for years may be cured in just a few sessions. Additionally, EMDR doesn’t need you to share every detail of your recollections, which is highly beneficial if you have problems speaking.
Maintaining and Minimizing Triggers
If daily stressors are not addressed, they eventually take a toll and may result in total burnout. However, there’s no need to wait until you’re utterly worn out before taking action. A few sessions of EMDR therapy every so often can assist you in relieving the stress you’ve been carrying.
You Don’t Have to Relive the Experience
EMDR allows you to work through painful memories without re-experiencing them. You’ll still remember what happened, but it won’t feel as emotionally charged, and you’ll be able to think about it without feeling overwhelmed.
It Can Treat More Than PTSD
EMDR is most commonly associated with treating post-traumatic stress disorder, but it can also be used to address other issues, such as anxiety, depression, phobias, and eating disorders. EMDR can be used to treat all sorts of trauma, whether it’s a one-time event or something that happened over a long period of time, such as childhood abuse.
It’s Supported by Research
There’s a growing body of research supporting the efficacy of EMDR therapy, with studies showing that it can be an effective treatment for PTSD. EMDR therapy can help people who have experienced trauma to process those memories and move on from them. The therapist will guide the person through a series of eye movements, or other forms of stimulation, while they think about the memory. Other recent meta-analyses, according to the VA, indicate that EMDR has moderate to strong therapy results for reducing PTSD symptoms, depressive symptoms, and losing the PTSD diagnosis.
EMDR therapy can be an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. If you think this type of therapy may be right for you, talk to your doctor or therapist about it. You can also find a qualified EMDR therapist in your area by visiting Awakened Counseling Services in Fort Myers or Estero.