Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of psychotherapy that involves the active participation of the person receiving therapy under the instruction and guidance of the therapist.
EMDR is most often employed when the person undergoing treatment has a need or desire to overcome a past traumatic experience. Because of this, it is a recommended treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
As its name implies, EMDR trauma therapy helps people overcome their trauma by desensitizing them to it. To achieve this, actual sessions of EMDR involve having the patient recall their past traumatic experience in sharp focus while simultaneously asking them to perform particular movements with their eyes.
This may be done by moving their fingers in front of and at the sides of a patient’s face and asking them to follow with their eyes. Bilateral stimulation, as it is termed, may also be performed by lightly tapping on the hands or feet and playing different musical tones from different sides of the body. What matters is the utilization of eye movement in conjunction with thoughts about a traumatic experience.
Effectiveness of EMDR Therapy
Put simply, EMDR trauma therapy has been shown to be effective because remembering your negative experiences while at the same time having your attention be diverted seems to lessen the emotional impact of these memories over time.
Although it is relatively new, it is also being explored for treating mental health problems, such as anxiety, panic attacks, and even depression. It can even help in managing eating disorders and addiction.
EMDR Therapy and Trauma
EMDR Therapy was a technique designed specifically to overcome past traumatic experiences. It builds on psychological theory that sees PTSD and its associated symptoms as not correctly process or deal with memories. Its unusual approach to handling trauma is partly because of the interesting way it treats memories as containers for thoughts, emotions, and even the things that people physically felt when they had the experience.
Instead of directly changing the emotional response to a memory, what EMDR trauma therapy tries to do is to dampen the way that the memory is experienced. As people go through more sessions, the psychological punch that a traumatic memory pack gets weaker and weaker.
Although other forms of psychotherapy make use of confronting experiences in mind as well as other forms of desensitization (escalating exposure to phobias, for example), EMDR is unique as it utilizes the principle of distraction, particularly making use of a person’s rhythmic eye movement.
The result is a kind of rapid eye movement therapy that helped people overcome their trauma.
Using EMDR to Treat PTSD
EMDR for PTSD involves mentally reliving or revisiting the traumatic experiences. The terms “desensitization” and “reprocessing” are essential in understanding how EMDR treats PTSD.
The therapy aims to desensitize you or have some kind of dulled sensitivity to your triggering memories. These memories will be reprocessed as more benign memories that have been psychologically overcome.
Like any other psychotherapy, the standard method for using EMDR to treat PTSD first involves establishing a doctor-patient relationship between you and your therapist. You and your therapist will work together to craft a treatment plan that will be best for you. This, of course, involves your therapist getting to know about the trauma that you specifically want to overcome.
Before getting into EMDR, your therapist will help you learn and practice stress management; these techniques help you deal with your triggers and remain calm. You will also learn the specifics of EMDR, and of course, your therapist will tell you about what you will experience.
The last step before beginning actual EMDR trauma therapy is for your therapist to clarify and pinpoint the specific memory that your treatment will be targeting. Your therapist will get to know every aspect of your memory, such as your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and anything else that comes up when you recall your experience.
Actual EMDR Therapy Sessions
The actual therapy sessions can last for an hour to an hour and a half. They start by having you recall your traumatic memories with a sharp focus. While you are thinking about your experiences, your therapist will have you do some eye movements; your therapist may guide you by their fingers or any other means. They may also tap you on your hands or feet or use some musical tones as other means of bilateral stimulation (performed on both sides).
After this, you will be asked to clear your mind and evaluate how you are feeling. Depending on how you are feeling, your therapist may continue or work with you on another memory.
If people begin to feel very distressed, your therapist will help you calm down with stress management techniques. They will help you come back to the moment before you continue. Over time, EMDR reduced the negative effect that people experience when they recall traumatic memories.
EMDR Therapy for Anxiety
EMDR primarily treats PTSD, but there is an ongoing study for its effectiveness in treating mental health disorders like anxiety. Although the research on EMDR for treating conditions other than PTSD is a bit newer, EMDR can help reduce anxiety symptoms, especially when it triggers specific memories or situations.
Overall, the application of EMDR in treating anxiety is quite promising, as it is a safe, calming, and effective therapy.
Benefits of EMDR Therapy (and a few potential risks)
EMDR trauma therapy has helped many people overcome symptoms of PTSD and has been very valuable to their recoveries. In dealing with trauma, people who undergo EMDR therapy have also adopted more positive thought processes. They have also experienced improvements in self-esteem.
EMDR is also quite effective comparatively as a therapy technique since its effects take place relatively quickly, only taking a few sessions. It also requires less talking as it mainly involves visualization. Studies have shown that a high percentage of people that undergo EMDR therapy achieved recovery from trauma. Additionally, recoveries involving EMDR seem to persist in the long term, even after treatment has ended. Additionally, EMDR uses no medication.
The fact that this therapy technique has relatively much fewer side effects than other techniques makes it a considerable option. Some concerns involved are similar to those of other visualization methods.
Some people experience a state of high emotion or self-awareness that lasts even after a session finishes. This may cause them to be sensitive or even have nightmares. Recalling traumatic experiences may also retrigger people in the process; but stress management and your therapist should help manage these feelings.
Recovering From Trauma, The Right Way
EMDR trauma therapy is successful in helping many people with PTSD and their trauma. It even holds more potential in treating other mental health disorders, such as anxiety.
When it comes to mental health, you have to surround yourself with the right people at the right place. If you’re looking for mental health care facilities in California, look no further. Our team of caring professionals handles all forms of trauma and abuse treatment.
You’re never alone in your recovery, and we’ll be with you the whole way through. Trust us, and take the first step by calling our compassionate team for help. Call us at 866-766-8776 and visit us at 3939 Atlantic Ave Suite 102, Long Beach, California 90807.