Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a type of psychotherapy that helps people recover from the physical and emotional side effects of upsetting life events. Through EMDR therapy, patients can quickly and unusually benefit from psychotherapy. It's a common belief that intense emotional pain takes a long time to recover. The use of EMDR therapy demonstrates that, like the body, the mind is capable of recovering from psychological trauma.
It was initially developed in the late 1980s when Dr. Francine Shapiro discovered a relationship between eye movements and persistent distressing memories while walking in the park. And despite its early skepticism, her lifelong study evolved over time. Now, the treatment is recognized as beneficial for treating trauma. Even though critics questioned its scientific validity and the lack of data on how it works, its effectiveness is now widely recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the American Psychological Association, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (USVA), and the Department of Defense (USDOD), the United Kingdom's National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, it could be difficult to seek assistance for your mental health in a society that tends to dismiss trauma and the feelings associated with it. But taking steps towards healing is important to decrease and eliminate the problematic symptoms of mental health conditions. So, online EMDR sessions can benefit clients who struggle with transportation or have limited time for offline sessions. Clients with phobias, an impaired state of health, or those who want privacy while receiving mental health treatment may find virtual treatment extremely beneficial.
Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing is trauma therapy. It was initially developed for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987. It is an individual therapy, typically delivered once or twice weekly for 6-12 sessions, and guided by the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model. According to this model, the symptoms of PTSD and other disorders are the outcome of upsetting events from the past that continue to be distressing because the individual did not properly process the memory. It is believed that these unprocessed memories hold the feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations that were present at the moment of the event. These previously-stored upsetting elements are experienced when the memories are triggered, which results in the symptoms of PTSD and/or other illnesses.
For example, someone who faced any form of harassment on a bus may not be able to ride the bus again. The very image of a bus may bring past haunting memories for that person. That memory of that one incident on the bus might overpower any other memory associated with riding a bus. In such a case, this treatment focuses on this specific memory. It aims to change how this memory is stored in the survivor's brain. This may reduce and eliminate the potentially problematic symptoms.
This treatment approach focuses on moving the eye a specific way while you process a traumatic memory. It incorporates the elements of cognitive behavioral therapy, combined with side-to-side eye movements or other forms of rhythmic left-right stimulation. This could also involve certain tones, taps, and chimes. Thus, the "dual stimulation" procedure requires the client to think or talk about painful memories, emotions, and triggers, while keeping their gaze fixed on the external movement in their field of vision. While clients briefly focus on the trauma memory while also receiving bilateral stimulation (BLS), it lessens the vividness and intensity of the memory.
This approach aims to obtain long-lasting and quick results. However, working through the complete 8-phase procedure with a certified EMDR therapist is vital to achieving the most effective treatment. Listed below are the 8 phases.
After the identification of the image and negative and positive beliefs, you'll be asked to rate the degree of the positive thinking on the Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale of 1–7 (with 1 being "completely false" and 7 being "completely true").
Additionally, you'll be asked to score the severity of the unsettling emotions you experience when you concentrate on the visual image on an 11-point Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) scale, with 0 denoting no distress at all and 10 denoting the most upsetting emotion you've ever had.
You'll also be asked to name the parts of your body where you experience pain when you recall the disturbing event.
As this therapy is relatively new, the scientific community continues to examine its results. Some of the potential benefits of EMDR are:
Speedy Results: Compared to other therapies, it often works more quickly. People who receive this treatment often start seeing results sooner and in fewer sessions.
Less Stressful: You are not required to delve into the specifics of the upsetting events of the past when using this therapy. Contrary to many "talk" therapies, the trauma isn't analyzed for an extended period.
Involves Less Homework: Other types of treatment frequently require you to complete journaling or homework between sessions. This therapy only consists in writing down any thoughts or ideas you want to discuss in your next session.
Very Successful: This treatment approach simultaneously works on the mind, body, and emotions. That is why, from comprehending the origins of the problem to coming up with a resolution for the symptoms, this treatment is successful.
This treatment combines bilateral stimulation along with a disturbing memory. This helps in changing beliefs about the event and establishing new neural connections. And even though the treatment started with eye movements, several kinds of bilateral sensory inputs can now be used. These can include asking a client to follow the practitioner's finger movements with their eyes, using a machine with back-and-forth lights, tapping the client's knees alternately, or using handheld vibrating pods with variable speeds and intensities. The preference of the therapist and the client usually determine the type of bilateral stimulation.
When BLS of the body is combined with sensory memory, it reduces physiological arousal and enables the body to transform the memory from an emotional to a more logical form. After the therapy, a patient should be able to recall the details of a traumatic memory without experiencing the upsetting feelings, thoughts, or sensations previously connected to it. Clients claim to enter therapy with a low sense of self because they felt helpless and had no control over the terrible occurrence. However, post-therapy, they frequently report feeling more in control and with higher self-worth.
This therapy is typically recommended for those with traumatic memories and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, some mental health professionals may also recommend it to treat:
Mostly, this approach appears to be a risk-free treatment for various mental illnesses. Yet further study may provide stronger support for the efficacy of this treatment approach.
EMDR is a highly specialized therapy that only a qualified mental health professional with relevant experience in this complicated approach should conduct. Some clinicians might not have the proper training because of how new this therapy is. Additionally, they can lack experience using this treatment or be out of touch with the most recent advancements in the field.
However, at DocVita, we can connect you with various EMDR-specialized professionals who can treat your specific symptoms. Our compassionate and kind therapists can lend an empathetic ear and help resolve your trauma and symptoms of other mental health concerns. Book an appointment with us today!