EMDR therapy is an unconventional psychotherapy procedure. Investigations have proved it as successful. It helps people recover from trauma and other traumatic life situations, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.
When traumatic events occur, the brain might not process them appropriately. Thus, these events can continue to influence us long after the actual event has passed. That may happen in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, and sensations of the tragic event. When something triggers memories of the trauma, your brain and body react as if it’s occurring all over again. The brain has no way of distinguishing between the past and the present. Here, this treatment can help.
The approach proposes that you can ‘reprocess’ or ‘synthesize’ troubling memory to help you move on. The goal is to alter how distressing memories get stored in your brain. Therefore, you may be able to recall traumatic situations. Once it has processed the memories, that can happen without having the powerful emotional reactions that characterize post-traumatic stress.
A Brief Overview
In the late 1980s, Francine Shapiro first made the relationship between eye movement and enduringly distressing memories. With this development, she began her lifetime research and advancement of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing treatment that commenced with this revelation.
Our brains have a built-in mechanism for resolving painful memories and experiences. While these traumatic events can often be addressed and controlled, they may heal without assistance. Our typical fight, flight, or freeze reflexes are all part of our stress responses. When the discomfort from a traumatic experience persists, the painful images, thoughts, and feelings can generate an intense sensation of being “stuck in time.”
EMDR aids in the processing of traumatic memories by the brain. It allows normal healing to occur. Although the event is recalled, the fight, flight, or freeze response from the initial occurrence is no longer present.
What to Expect From a Session?
In some ways, the remedial method inherits fundamental ideas from extended exposure therapy, the most effective behavioral psychotherapeutic treatment for PTSD. It does so by eliciting the recollection of upsetting memories and deflecting attention from the emotional effects of those memories. EMDR can lessen anxiety. Patients may be better able to control their troubling thoughts.
During the session, the therapist generally asks you to focus on a trauma memory for a short period. This is followed by side-to-side eye movements while recalling the memory. This is to engage and activate both sides of the brain, also known as bilateral stimulation.
What Techniques are Used?
Talking in depth about the upsetting event or doing activities in between sessions are not prerequisites. Instead of concentrating on altering the feelings, ideas, or behaviors brought on by the traumatic event, the treatment enables the brain to continue its normal healing process.
Unprocessed traumatic memories can be resolved. A therapist may use rhythmic tapping on both hands or play audio tones focused on both ears if a patient has problems with visual processing. One explanation for how it functions is that it promotes communication between the left and right sides of the brain. While the left side of the brain specializes in processing logic and reason, the right side is in-charge of emotions.
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The Different Phases
Even the most fervent advocates disagree on how the treatment operates. There are only theories at this time. A person undergoing this procedure will typically need one or two sessions weekly, for a total of 6 to 12 sessions. One might need more or fewer sessions depending on how one responds personally. There are a total of eight phases. Here is what you can expect from these phases:
- Phase 1- History Taking: The first step involves creating and developing a plan and treatment objective with your therapist. This may include discussing your past, the emotional symptoms and triggers you encounter, and your goals for treatment. Your therapist may also decide if you could benefit from additional therapies or treatments.
- Phase 2- Preparation: The approach will then be explained to you by your therapist. They will also go through the principles and address any queries you may have. Progress frequently requires several sessions. Your therapist can help you create coping mechanisms better to control your emotions in and out of sessions. Strategies for reducing stress, such as breathing exercises, and resourcing techniques, may fall under this category.
- Phase 3- Assessing The Target Memory: Identifying and assessing the memory that is causing you emotional pain is the aim of phase 3. Memory-related imagery, cognition, mood, and bodily sensations are evaluated on diagnostic measures. This will serve as the beginning point for your therapist to chart how you are responding.
- Phase 4-7- Treatment (desensitization, reaction, installation, closure): The memory desensitization procedure starts in Phase 4. You’ll be asked to recollect pieces of a traumatic memory during your session. Your therapist will give you cues to make certain eye movements as you do this. You can be questioned about your feelings, thoughts, and reactions once you’ve completed recounting the memory or sensation. Another way to monitor the development is to take note of these reactions. Each session should implant better emotional reactions and constructive attitudes. Your therapist will assess whether you reprocessed the memory thoroughly at the end of the session. If that is not complete, they will work with you on a stress-reduction activity to ensure you are comfortable before the session ends.
- Phase 8- Re-evaluation: The results will be assessed by you and your provider. The memories that have been revealed, and the memories to focus on in the following session, will be determined after each session. The provider will prepare a future template at the end of your session. This only happens when you have addressed all the memories you had wished to. As you go through an anticipated hypothetical future of dealing with any previously triggering circumstances, they will once more apply the bilateral stimulation in this exercise.
What Disorders Can it Treat?
All ages can benefit from this as it tackles a variety of issues. The use in treating PTSD and coping with trauma is the focus of considerable research. This treatment may also be suggested by a mental health professional for a wide range of additional problems, including but not exclusive to:
- Anxiety and Panic attacks
- Eating Disorders
- Depression and Bipolar Disorders
- Violence and Abuse
- Pain Management
- Performance Anxiety
Is it Effective?
The precise mechanism is unknown to experts. It’s a complex type of therapy with various possible mechanisms of action. Numerous organizations have recognized it as an effective kind of treatment, even if the specific mechanism by which it works is still under question.
Seven early EMDR therapies randomized controlled trials with results were examined in a 2019 study. The researchers concluded that early sessions greatly decreased traumatic stress symptoms and stopped them from worsening.
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Stress, anxiety, and any other mental disorders can happen to anyone. However, it’s all treatable with the help of medical health care professionals. The right one will help you identify and acknowledge the things that bother you and guide you in the right direction.
Have you tried stress-relieving methods, but your situation has not improved? It may be time to seek the assistance of a qualified therapist. We at DocVita have a variety of experts from many disciplines who can aid you in better managing and coping with your emotions. You just need to visit DocVita’s book from the therapist page to set up your appointment.