EMDR is a form of psychotherapy used to process traumatic memories. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. In an EMDR session, the client receives bilateral stimulation while recalling distressing memories of past events (a disturbance). This can be done in a variety of ways and will cause your brain to create new neural pathways that alter the way you react to trauma-related memories.
The goal of EMDR is to get the client to the point where they are no longer affected by upsetting memories or situations.
Is EMDR effective?
EMDR has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for PTSD and depression. It also helps facilitate a deeper understanding of yourself.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of EMDR in the treatment of these conditions. A meta-analysis of 22 studies found that EMDR therapy was more effective than other forms of therapy in reducing symptoms of PTSD. Other studies have also found that EMDR therapy can be effective in reducing anxiety and depression.
What is EMDR used for?
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): EMDR therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for PTSD, a condition that can occur after experiencing a traumatic event. EMDR therapy may help to reduce the intensity of negative emotions and behaviors associated with the trauma, and may also help to improve sleep and other symptoms of PTSD.
- Anxiety: EMDR therapy has been found to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms, including generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, and panic disorder.
- Depression: Some studies have found that EMDR therapy may be effective in reducing symptoms of depression, including feelings of hopelessness and low mood.
- Substance abuse: EMDR therapy may be used as part of a treatment plan for substance abuse disorders, as it may help to reduce cravings and improve coping skills.
- Stress: EMDR therapy may be helpful in reducing stress and improving overall well-being.
Overall, EMDR therapy may be used to treat a wide range of mental health conditions and may be effective in reducing symptoms and improving overall well-being. It is always important to work with a trained and experienced therapist to determine the most appropriate treatment
What to expect
While someone is receiving EMDR therapy, there are seven main phases which are carried out over many sessions.
The 7 Phases of EMDR
The therapy phases are broken down into:
- History Taking
During this phase the therapist gathers all relevant background information. This phase typically covers multiple sessions but is heavily dependent on the client.
The therapist will introduce you to bilateral stimulation assessing if you’re a good candidate for EMDR. Bilateral stimulation is a method of stimulating both sides of your brain simultaneously, which can help with traumatic memories. This phase typically covers a single session but is heavily dependent on the client.
In this phase the therapist will help you map out your memories and triggers that cause distress. Assessment will typically last 1-2 sessions.
What circumstance caused your trauma?
What is the most frequent mental image that you associate with the memory?
How does the traumatic incident relate to the present?(Will recur?)
- Desensitization (The Eye Movement Phase)
During this phase, the disturbance is evaluated rationally. Your therapist will try to help you change the association, or link, between the traumatic event and its trigger.
To begin the EMDR procedure, The therapist should be sitting opposite from you in order to make eye contact throughout the process. They might also wave their hand in front of your face or tap. Any of these actions may help to keep your attention on the therapist.
You will be asked to look at an image or focus on a memory that stimulates a negative reaction while simultaneously using bilateral stimulation. This is done in a number of sets that each last 25-45 seconds. This is a passive instruction. After each set of eye movements, your therapist will ask you to reflect on what you’ve just experienced. (Article continues below)
Looking for more information on EMDR Therapy? We can help!
- The installation phase. The therapist will work with you install a positive believe replacing the negative associations you have with the traumatic event. This continues until the client can endure a set without a negative response.
- The Body Scan phase. The therapist will evaluate you to make sure there are no somatic symptoms lingering from the session. Somatic symptoms are body-wide disturbances occurring in the aftermath of a traumatic experience such as high blood pressure, body tension, shortness of breath among others.
- The Closing phase. At the end of every session, your therapist will work to end on a calming note. At the closing of the seventh phase the Therapist will work with you to ensure there is no additional disturbance. The therapist will also give you stress reduction techniques to remain calm.
Is EMDR intense?
Whilst some people may experience feelings of anxiety during an EMDR session, these are immediate reactions that should dissipate after about 5-10 minutes when someone has gotten used to it.
During an EMDR session, no one is expected to do anything that makes them uncomfortable or that they don’t want to do. If at any point in time, it feels like the treatment is too difficult for you, simply let the therapist know and they can always try another form of treatment.
If you are having trouble processing an event or believe EMDR may be right for you, reach out to a licensed counselor for a consultation. Mosaic Way Counseling has trained EMDR therapist ready to serve the Greater Dallas Fort-Worth area in person and the entire state of Texas virtually.