WHAT IS EMDR THERAPY?
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy is an evidence-based psychotherapeutic treatment method that is proven to be effective in alleviating distress associated with traumatic memories.
Initially developed by Francine Shapiro, it is particularly potent in treating conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and has also shown promise in addressing co-occurring disorders that are prevalent among individuals battling addiction and other mental health issues.
EMDR therapy involves a structured eight-phase approach whereby a trained EMDR therapist helps the client process distressing memories by initiating a procedure known as bilateral stimulation, typically through guided eye movements.
This process helps to desensitise the emotional charge tied to these memories, eventually allowing the individual to recall them without experiencing the previous level of distress. Over time, EMDR treatment works to help individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms and a more adaptive perspective towards their past experiences, which contributes to a well-rounded recovery journey.
Movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy can be an effective treatment for a handful of mental health issues. Depending on the condition itself, we at PROMIS evaluate the disorder and provide the most effective treatment plan for the specific issues at hand.
USES FOR EMDR THERAPY
Using EMDR will depend on various factors and is down to a thorough patient evaluation. With that said, EMDR may be particularly useful in treating trauma or trauma-related disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In some cases, it is used to treat other mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders and panic attacks. As stated, a complete evaluation should be completed to assess the patient, their needs and what they could benefit from the most regarding therapy.
WHAT ARE THE PHASES OF EMDR THERAPY?
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a complex and structured form of psychotherapy that involves eight distinct phases, each playing a crucial role in the treatment process. Here’s a breakdown of these phases:
- History and Treatment Planning: In this initial phase, the therapist assesses the client’s history and determines the treatment plan. This includes identifying specific traumatic events or issues to be targeted in therapy.
- Preparation: The therapist prepares the client for EMDR treatment. This involves establishing trust, explaining the EMDR process, and teaching stress-reduction techniques to use between sessions. The client is also introduced to the bilateral stimulation (e.g., lateral eye movements) used in EMDR.
- Assessment: During this phase, the therapist identifies the specific target for each session. This includes the traumatic memory, its negative belief, the desired positive belief, and the emotions and body sensations related to the memory.
- Desensitisation: This is where the core of EMDR occurs. The therapist leads the client through sets of lateral eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) while the client focuses on the traumatic memory. This is done until the memory becomes less disturbing.
- Installation: The focus here is on strengthening the positive belief that the client wants to have about themselves, replacing the negative belief associated with the trauma. This is also done with the aid of bilateral stimulation.
- Body Scan: After the positive belief has been strengthened, the client is asked to think of the original traumatic event and notice any residual tension or unusual sensations in the body. The therapist uses EMDR techniques to target these sensations until they are resolved.
- Closure: This phase ensures that the client leaves each session feeling better than at the beginning. The therapist helps the client return to a state of equilibrium, using techniques learned in the preparation phase if necessary.
- Re-evaluation: At the beginning of subsequent sessions, the therapist and client review the progress made and decide whether to continue with the same target or move on to others. This phase is essential to ensure the overall treatment goals are being met.
Each phase of EMDR therapy is designed to build upon the previous one, systematically moving through the traumatic memory while aiming to reduce its emotional impact and replace negative beliefs and body sensations associated with the trauma with more positive and empowering ones.
BENEFITS OF EMDR THERAPY
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing therapy offers several benefits, particularly in the treatment of trauma and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) symptoms. As a structured therapy that encourages the processing of traumatic memories, EMDR can be an effective alternative or complement to traditional talk therapy. Here are some key benefits:
- Effective for Trauma and PTSD: EMDR is mainly known for its effectiveness in treating PTSD and trauma-related issues. It helps individuals process and integrate traumatic experiences, reducing their psychological impact.
- Rapid Results: Many individuals experience benefits from EMDR more quickly than traditional talk therapy. The processing of troubled memories can sometimes occur faster, offering relief in a shorter time frame.
- Less Emphasis on Verbalisation: Unlike traditional talk therapies, EMDR does not require extensive discussion of the traumatic event. This can be beneficial for those who find it difficult to articulate their experiences or who become emotionally overwhelmed by talking about their trauma.
- Reduces Distress from Memories: EMDR therapy is designed to diminish the emotional distress associated with trauma. It does this by altering the way these memories are stored in the brain, making them less triggering.
- Holistic Approach to Symptoms: EMDR addresses not just the cognitive and emotional aspects of trauma but also physiological responses. It often leads to a reduction in physical symptoms associated with PTSD, like insomnia and hypervigilance.
- Encourages Positive Self-Beliefs: Part of EMDR therapy focuses on replacing negative beliefs (stemming from the trauma) with positive ones, which can lead to improved self-esteem and a more positive outlook on life.
- Reduction in Avoidance Behaviours: EMDR can help decrease avoidance behaviours that are common in PTSD, enabling individuals to engage more fully with their lives.
- Can be Integrated with Other Therapies: EMDR can be used alongside other therapeutic approaches, providing a comprehensive treatment plan for those with complex or multifaceted issues.
- Useful for a Range of Psychological Issues: Besides PTSD, EMDR has been found to be effective for other conditions like anxiety, depression, and specific phobias.
- Focus on Empowerment: EMDR therapy empowers individuals by giving them tools to process trauma, leading to a sense of mastery and control over their emotional responses.
It’s important to note that while EMDR can be highly effective, it’s not suitable for everyone. The decision to use EMDR should be based on a thorough assessment by a qualified mental health professional. If you feel like you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, trauma or other mental health issues and think you may benefit from therapy, contact PROMIS for a free assessment today.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS EMDR THERAPY?
EMDR is a type of therapy that has its uses for specific conditions. As explained, those who benefit the most are patients with trauma-related issues; however, there are cases where EMDR has proven to have had significant benefits. The effectiveness of EMDR varies from patient to patient. Although there are varied opinions within the medical world on this subject, thousands of cases and patients have benefited hugely from it.
That’s not to say that EMDR is for everyone and every case. No, there are a multitude of therapies that can be used to treat conditions. As every patient is diverse and has different experiences, professional therapists evaluate the problem and provide the proper treatment course for that particular issue. Other therapies, like cognitive behavioural therapy or dialectical behavioural therapy, may be more suitable to some patients, whereas others may benefit more from EMDR.
GET MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT WITH PROMIS
If you suffer from PTSD, trauma or other mental health issues, contact PROMIS for a free assessment. At our clinic, we can treat anxiety, depression and other trauma and PTSD symptoms – for more information, call us today and begin your journey to a better life.