EMDR has been recognized as an effective psychotherapy treatment by the World Health Organization, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, American Psychiatric Association, Department of Defense, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, among other organizations.
What is EMDR?
EMDR stands for Eye Moment Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy. It is researched in
detail and proven to be successful for recovery from trauma and other life experiences, which
includes anxiety, depression, PTSD, and panic disorders. It is designed to work through and
settle unprocessed traumatic memories in the brain. It leads the individual to resume natural
healing processes in the brain.
How does EMDR work?
EMDR does not require detailed discussion or memory of a traumatic experience, nor does it require the individual to work outside of therapy sessions. EMDR helps people naturally recover from traumatic memories and events by reteaching the brain to process properly. It leads people to process memories and leads thoughts and experiences to travel throughout the biological pathway in the brain. Typically, processing memories requires communication between the amygdala, hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex in the brain. These parts of the brain are important for alarming the body when experiencing stress, assisting with learning, and analyzing and controlling behavior and emotions, respectively. When experiences are not fully processed through this pathway, individuals are often left distressed, overwhelmed, and upset due to the event they experienced. EMDR leads people to still remember the event, but remove the strong emotions and feelings attached to the experience.
What are the stages of EMDR?
When a client and therapist decide that EMDR therapy will be an effective method, they will begin the treatment. EMDR Therapy Treatment involves eight phases:
History and Treatment Planning
The therapist will walk the client through these steps for as long or as little as needed to address and reprocess an unhelpful thought or experience. At the end of all eight phases, the client will have successfully processed an experience so that it can remain in the mind with appropriate emotions, rather than extreme and distressing ones.
What is bilateral stimulation?
Bilateral stimulation is a physical process like, eye movement, tapping, or the use of tones, which attempts to replicate biological processes during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. It stimulates the left and right hemispheres of the brain in an alternating pattern. Bilateral stimulation is the mechanism used by the therapist to help the client biologically reprocess traumatic memories and experiences.
Do I need to experience extreme trauma to use EMDR?
No, EMDR can be beneficial for anyone to process through any type of trauma or stressful experiences, no matter how big or small. It helps people reprocess the neurological linkage between a stressful experience and response. It leads our minds to properly process through experiences in a way where individuals can eventually come to peace and acceptance with the experience.
How long does treatment take?
Length of EMDR treatment is different for everyone. It often depends on the history of the client to determine how long treatment can take. It cannot be a rushed process, but rather a detailed one that helps individuals alleviate symptoms and address the entire clinical picture.