Copyright © 2022 Hannes Wessels Therapist & Educational Psychologist
What you need to know about EMDR therapy for Trauma
If you have experienced a traumatic event, you may find it difficult to forget the experience. In very severe cases, this can lead to anxiety disorders (such as PTSD) or significant mental health difficulties.
Although there are many treatments for PTSD, one of the most effective is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This article will explain how EMDR works and what psychologists need to know about its effectiveness.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It’s a relatively new therapy that helps people recover from traumatic experiences. EMDR therapy is the most widely used trauma therapy.
The goal of the therapy is to help you process the trauma so that it no longer causes problems in your life. The idea is that memories can become “stuck” and continue to affect you long after the event has occurred, but EMDR can help you move past these memories and think about them less often.
EMDR was discovered in 1989 by a psychologist named Francine Shapiro.
EMDR was discovered by psychologist Francine Shapiro in 1989. While working as a therapist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Menlo Park, CA, she noticed that some of her clients were able to move past their trauma more quickly than others. She began to research what was happening and found that the brain creates memories of experiences and stores them differently from other types of information. When you have a traumatic event occur, your brain tries to process it using its current mental programming. In order for an experience to be fully integrated into your consciousness, it must be processed through all five stages—denial, anger/guilt/shame, bargaining/depression/hopelessness (DBH), acceptance or mastery—and become part of who you are rather than something separate from yourself that is still causing distress even though it happened years ago.
EMDR helps people who have experienced trauma by targeting traumatic memories.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a method that aims to treat mental health issues by processing the memory of trauma.
Typically, EMDR is used as a treatment for PTSD, but it can also be used to treat other mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
The eye movements are thought to allow you to access both sides of your brain.
The brain has two sides, the left and right. The left side is responsible for logical thinking, and the right side is responsible for creative thinking.
EMDR uses eye movements to stimulate both sides of the brain. This we call bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation is shown to calm down the emotional centre of the brain.
EMDR has been found effective in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depression, and other Anxiety Disorders.
EMDR is a relatively fast treatment with successful results. It can help people who have experienced trauma by targeting traumatic memories. Emotional regulation techniques such as relaxation training, cognitive restructuring and self-soothing are also part of a standard EMDR protocol to reduce disturbing thoughts or feelings that may be related to the trauma(s).
Both the client and therapist actively participate in the treatment during all phases of EMDR therapy.
For example, you will be asked questions about what you are experiencing while your therapist follows his/her protocol for accessing information about your past experiences that may be contributing to current problems (for example: memories of being bullied at school).
EMDR is a relatively fast treatment with successful results.
EMDR is a relatively fast treatment with successful results. It’s used by psychologists and therapists to treat a wide range of issues, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The process involves the therapist guiding you through 8 phases:
The EMDR Phases
EMDR mainly focuses on past disturbing memories and related events. It aims to lessen the distress caused by the current situation. It also helps you develop the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions.
With therapy EMDR, the past, present and future is addressed using an eight-phase treatment approach. During EMDR treatment, you will focus on a traumatic memory while you receive bilateral stimulation via eye movements (or sounds etc.). EMDR not only closes mental wounds, but it also transforms them into personal empowerment.
Phase 1: History And Treatment Planning in EMDR therapy
The first phase is a history-taking session(s). The therapist assesses your readiness and develops a bespoke treatment plan. Together you identify possible targets to process your psychological trauma. These include distressing memories and current situations that cause emotional distress. It can also include incidents in your past.
The length of treatment depends upon the number of traumas and the age of PTSD onset. Generally, those with single event adult onset trauma can be successfully treated in under 5 hours. Multiple trauma victims may require a longer treatment time.
Phase 2: Preparation in EMDR therapy
In the 2nd phase of treatment, the therapist ensures you have different ways of handling emotional distress. You may be taught a variety of imagery and stress reduction techniques to use between sessions. More will be explained by the therapist about the EMDR process.
Phase 3-6 in EMDR therapy
These four phases include Assessment, Desensitization, Installation, and Body Scan. These phases target the identified memories. It is in these phases that the eye movements will start.
Phase 7: Closure
In phase seven, closure, the therapist will ask you to keep a log during the week. The log should document any related experiences that pop up between sessions.
Phase 8: Reevaluation
Phase 8 checks in with the progress you have made. If you have multiple traumas, this phase will focus on a new target trauma.
After successful treatment with EMDR therapy, patients will achieve physiological reconciliation, relieved distress, and the ability to reformulate negative beliefs.
Psychologists can use eye movements to help people recover from traumatic experiences.
EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It is a relatively new treatment but has been found effective in treating PTSD and other anxiety disorders.
In EMDR therapy, the therapist uses eye movements to help you process your traumatic experiences. The therapist asks you to recall a memory related to your trauma (for example, if you were in an accident or were sexually assaulted) while at the same time moving his or her fingers back and forth in front of your eyes. You may also be asked to follow an object with your eyes as the memory is brought up by talking about it again with the therapist. This process helps people reprocess their trauma so they no longer feel its effects on their lives as strongly as they did before treatment began.
EMDR is approved as an effective trauma therapy.
EMDR therapy has been approved by both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as an evidence based treatment for traumatic stress disorder.
An EMDR therapist has to be trained to administer EMDR.
As we have discussed, EMDR is a fascinating treatment for PTSD and other anxiety disorders. Although some people may be skeptical about the eye movement component, it has been proven effective for many patients. If you have or know someone who is experiencing trauma, this therapy may serve as an alternative to traditional talk therapy. As far as PTSD treatments go, it’s relatively fast with successful results—so why not give it a try?