What is EMDR Therapy For PTSD?

What is EMDR Therapy For PTSD?

EMDR therapy is a type of psychotherapy that utilizes eye movement to desensitize and reprocess memories associated with mental health issues. Studies have demonstrated its efficacy in treating PTSD and other psychological conditions caused by traumatic experiences.

According to a review of the current literature, EMDR has been found more effective than standard talk therapy in many studies and less so in others. It may especially help reduce symptoms of intrusion and arousal among patients with PTSD; however, results vary depending on treatment length and the therapist’s expertise.

The EMDR protocol, or process, is an eight-step strategy. It starts with a comprehensive history where the therapist collects information about your past experiences and helps identify any negative beliefs associated with those memories. Furthermore, they guide you through visualization techniques and relaxation exercises to maintain emotional balance in between sessions.

Phase one involves asking you to focus on an image, negative thought or body sensation associated with traumatic memory. They then instruct you to perform eye movements while thinking about this target image – known as bilateral stimulation. The therapist may use eye movements, taps or tones for this purpose.

After your initial EMDR session is over, your therapist will begin the desensitization phase. Here, you’ll continue reprocessing the memory by following their finger with your eyes as they probe for emotions or bodily sensations that arise during this process. Additionally, positive thoughts and feelings associated with that memory will be encouraged for reinforcement.

Most clients can successfully reprocess a single traumatic memory within three sessions. However, those with multiple traumas or an issue in childhood may require longer healing processes.

The initial few EMDR sessions focus on processing trauma memories. After the client recalls the event, their therapist guides them through several sets of bilateral stimulation (BLS) using eye movements, tapping or tones. After each set, you will be asked what comes up for you and how you feel afterwards.

Once the traumatizing memory has been processed, the therapist can begin the installation phase. This entails engaging in brief BLS that focus on the target while performing side-to-side eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation. They may also guide their client through other exercises like future templates to reinforce healthier thoughts and feelings that emerged during EMDR therapy.

Although EMDR is still an emerging form of psychotherapy, it has been demonstrated to be successful in numerous randomized controlled trials. It’s particularly helpful for treating PTSD and other mental health disorders caused by trauma due to its adaptive information processing model that acknowledges that traumatic events often manifest symptoms due to inadequate processing.

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