What is EMDR Therapy?
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), also known as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), is a trauma-focused psychotherapy technique that has been scientifically proven to be successful in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Studies also demonstrate its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic attacks and other emotional distress experienced by individuals who have endured traumatic experiences.
Dr. Francine Shapiro developed the Adaptive Information Processing model in 1991, which holds that symptoms of PTSD, depression, panic and other mental health conditions are caused by unprocessed traumatic memories stored in your brain. When these memories are triggered, you experience all the negative emotions, thoughts and physical sensations present during the event that caused it.
In EMDR therapy, your therapist will ask you to recall a trauma memory and focus on it while performing side-to-side eye movements. This engaging of both sides of the brain is known as bilateral stimulation and helps activate your VSSP (vertical sensory somatosensory processing system), which controls how your body responds to stress or pain.
Your therapist will then redirect your focus to another trauma memory you’ve identified. As you think about this new memory, make side-to-side eye movements while repeating it aloud. This process continues until any negative feelings or symptoms associated with the trauma have diminished or completely gone away.
You may need multiple sessions in order to fully heal. Most patients experience relief after six to twelve sessions.
History and Information Gathering: During this phase, the therapist will collect a comprehensive history of your past. Additionally, they may inquire about any upsetting or distressing memories that you wish to work through during EMDR treatment in order to determine if EMDR will be beneficial for you.
Preparation and Education: This stage helps you become comfortable for therapy by making you feel safe and secure. Additionally, it teaches techniques for active trauma processing that will be invaluable throughout the treatment and between sessions.
Your therapist will use EMDR techniques during each session to help you process and release memories from your mind. This could involve focusing on how it feels when thinking about the traumatic memory, visualizing images of it, tapping rhythmically on your hands or using other forms of sensory stimuli such as sound or light devices.
In the final phase, your therapist will reinforce any positive belief you identified during reprocessing the trauma. This could be a brand-new belief you learned during sessions or an old one you’ve had for some time and are ready to replace with something more constructive.
EMDR is an effective and safe technique that has been shown to reduce symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, panic, and other psychological disorders. Additionally, it may improve quality of life for those dealing with chronic illnesses or medical issues.