EMDR is short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a form of therapy that was developed to help people who have experienced trauma or other distressing events.
It involves having the person recall the traumatic event while simultaneously engaging in some form of bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, hand tapping, or auditory tones.
When a traumatic event is detected, the EMDR Therapist helps you focus on these memories and related events and present situations that cause distress and then remove the power of the memories associated with these experiences.
The goal of EMDR is to help you process your emotions and memories related to the trauma, so that you can better cope with the experience and move on with your life.
Research suggests that EMDR may be effective in reducing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions; hence why EMDR is supported by the VA.
Within EMDR, there are many different forms of how the therapist can direct the session.
When you cut your hand, millions of cells rush to the cut to begin healing the wound.
If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it doesn’t allow the wound to heal. Healing only takes place when the block is removed.
Similarly, this is how your brain works when healing from traumatic experiences and memories.
Suppose you have a memory that keeps repeating itself or an unresolved experience. It is difficult for your mental health to return to normal.
EMDR uses a three-point focus on the past, present, and future to metaphorically remove the ‘foreign object,’ or the irritating memory.
EMDR differs from other therapy models because you don’t have to talk about the traumatic memory in detail or complete homework in between sessions each week.
A therapist may ask you to feel emotions or to think of specific experiences, but describing and talking about them is not always necessary.
Instead, EMDR allows your brain to heal using its own processing power.
EMDR treats post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, panic disorders, and other distressing life events in children, adolescents, and adults.
Unlike other forms of therapy, insight gained in EMDR therapy comes from your accelerated intellectual and emotional process.
This process leaves you feeling empowered by the experiences that once held you captive.
EMDR sessions are typically structured and follow a specific protocol to help you process your memories and emotions related to the traumatic event in a safe and controlled way.
The therapist will check in with you throughout the session to ensure you feel safe and comfortable and adjust the intensity of the bilateral stimulation as needed.
The number of EMDR sessions you will need will depend on your needs and goals for therapy.
EMDR is an approved therapy by the government for treating PTSD and is used by the VA (Veterans Association)
In a successful EMDR therapy, the memory of painful events is changed on an emotional level so that you can function in everyday life without heightened anxiety.
The purpose of EMDR is to help you work through traumatic and distressing experiences, memories, and emotions to reduce the negative impact the event has on your life.
By recalling the traumatic event and engaging in bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or hand tapping, you can access and process these memories and emotions, allowing them to be integrated into your overall understanding of the situation.
Through this process, EMDR is intended to help reduce the intensity of negative emotions and physical sensations associated with the traumatic event and improve your overall functioning and quality of life.
EMDR is just one form of trauma therapy and may not be suitable for everyone; other trauma treatment methods include ABFT, IFS, and Brainspotting.
It is always a good idea to discuss treatment options with your therapist to determine the best approach for your needs and goals.
As stated before, EMDR is used for many mental and emotional needs.
EMDR helps people who suffer from:
EMDR is also used for:
If you are unsure if EMDR would help you, call to schedule an assessment to see if EMDR is the proper treatment for you.
PTSD/Trauma comes in many forms, abuse, war, divorce, death, etc.
Severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. Using EMDR therapy, the mind can recover quicker from psychological trauma.
Recent studies have shown that 84%-91% of single-trauma victims no longer experienced PTSD after three sessions.
Another study showed that 100% of single-traumatized victims and 77% of multi-traumatized victims no longer experienced PTSD symptoms after six sessions and 77% of combat veterans no longer had PTSD after 12 sessions. (emdr.com)
EMDR is recognized worldwide as an effective form of therapy for trauma.
Throughout your life, your brain connects experiences with emotions.
This is how you learn to avoid danger, like burning your hand on the stove, salivating when you smell popcorn or a song that reminds you of a trip with friends.
These are all examples of how our brain creates connections in our day-to-day life.
Unfortunately, traumatic experiences are no exception to the connections in your brain, and they can carry powerful emotions with them.
One example may be a fear of kittens because you were scratched by one as a child.
Hating a favorite food because you got food poisoning once while eating it.
Sometimes these connections are not fair.
You may one day meet a gentle and sweet kitten, yet, because of the link that has been made in your brain, the soft, adorable kitten still feels very scary.
You may give up eating your favorite food because you fear you will have the same reaction as last time.
EMDR encourages you to feel the emotion connected to the experience and allows your brain to re-evaluate whether or not that emotional connection is fair.
Feeling fear toward the kitten that scratched us is a valid physical response; however, should we feel afraid of all kittens?
EMDR provides a space for your brain to answer that question and separate the connections when necessary.
Over time, you will feel more in control of your immediate responses to the things around you.
The strong emotions connected to traumatic experiences will begin to lower in intensity.
The Eight-phase treatment is a system, not a step-by-step process, but are different phases a client might go through in EMDR.
EMDR therapy focuses on different periods: past, present, and future.
A therapist will look for negative and traumatic memories and events from the past and present so they can help a you process these events to experience less trauma and have a positive belief in the future.
Below are the 8 phases:
During phase one, the therapist will gather information about your history and current symptoms.
The therapist will work with you to develop a treatment plan.
Initial EMDR processing might start at childhood events rather than current stressors or the identified critical incident.
As you explain your situation, the therapist directs specific questions targeting areas in the story where your eyes move a certain way.
The client continues to identify what happened before, during, and after the traumatic experience and the disconnective belief that’s been created.
This information helps the therapist decide where to focus and how to treat the client for the best results.
In the second stage of treatment, the therapist will help you develop the skills and resources you need to cope with the memories and emotions that may arise.
You’ll learn how to cope with the trauma by focusing on the present moment.
You are taught to focus on the here and now.
Focusing on the here and now will help you move away from the past and feel more comfortable in the present.
During phase three, the therapist will identify specific memories and emotions related to the traumatic event that you will focus on during treatment.
You and the therapist will work together on healing those thoughts, emotions, and beliefs.
Also, during the third stage of treatment, the therapist will teach you how to identify your disconnecting beliefs about yourself and create positive affirmations.
During phase four, you will recall the traumatic event and related memories and emotions while simultaneously engaging in some form of bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, hand tapping, or auditory tones.
In the fourth stage of treatment, the therapist will help you identify the emotions and body sensations caused by any distressing memories.
The goal of this phase is to help you process and resolve the negative emotions and physical sensations associated with the trauma.
During phase five, the therapist will help you strengthen any positive feelings, emotions, or beliefs that have emerged during the course of treatment.
You will learn how to process your memories by finding positive aspects of life. For example, if you were bullied, you can focus on the fact you are now stronger than before.
This new positive belief helps you look at things differently and promotes healing faster.
In phase six, you will be asked to pay attention to any physical sensations in your body and report any changes to the therapist.
You will also learn how to deal with new situations, self-control techniques, stress reduction techniques, and how to manage uncomfortable feelings.
For example, if somebody cuts you off in traffic, you can think about how you will react positively, which might be different than your normal response.
During phase seven, the therapist will help you return to a relaxed state and debrief you on the session.
In phase seven, the therapist might ask you to keep a journal during the week to record events and things that happen so that you can be reminded of the calming activities you learned in phase two.
In phase eight, the therapist will assess your progress and determine the next steps in treatment.
They will look at all of your progress made and all related historical events, current incidents, and future events that may require different responses.
The eight phases of EMDR therapy don’t necessarily follow the order mentioned above.
The therapist may choose to go in a different order or plan, but the phases look similar to these.
After your initial assessment, the therapist will determine how many treatment sessions you may need to treat the presenting issues best.
Trained EMDR Therapists understand talking about painful memories is not easy, so they lead with tremendous compassion while you’re working through these traumatic events.
Fortunately, EMDR has been proven effective therapy for dealing with these painful memories and turning them into memories that are not as painful.
Many clients have expressed how much they have changed and the positive experiences of doing EMDR therapy.
Clients have said they no longer have daily vivid nightmares that wake them up in the middle of the night or debilitating emotions.
These are the principles followed in the treatment of trauma and unprocessed memories:
Living a happier and more fulfilling life is the power that you deserve.
The effectiveness of EMDR can vary depending on the individual, and it may not be suitable for everyone.
As with any treatment, it is always a good idea to discuss your options with your therapist to determine the best approach for your specific needs and goals.
It is also important to keep in mind that EMDR should not be used as a sole treatment for PTSD or other mental health conditions and should be used in conjunction with other evidence-based treatments.
EMDR is an evidence-based, heavily researched therapy model.
It is effective in treating PTSD, Trauma, Anxiety, and many others.
It is endorsed and used by many international organizations, including the following:
It is difficult to predict whether EMDR will be effective for you.
The effectiveness of EMDR may vary depending on your specific needs and goals.
Some factors that may influence the effectiveness of EMDR for you include:
Ultimately, the best way to determine whether EMDR will be effective for you is to schedule an assessment and discuss your treatment options with your therapist.
Qualified therapists use a variety of different data-driven and evidence-based treatment models.
In your first few meetings with your therapist, they will work with you to determine which of these models fits best with your lifestyle and the symptoms you are experiencing.
EMDR is not for everyone, but for those who need it, it is an incredibly powerful tool.
You have options; call to Schedule an Assessment today to determine if EMDR is the right treatment model for you; call 801.901.0279, so you can start unloading, exploring, and healing.
Maybe you need a lot more help because life has completely overwhelmed you, and you’re starting to shut down.
Lets face it, who likes to talk about their crap with other people?
If you’re like most clients, you’re used to being judged despite hearing so many people talk about non judgment and when you do open up, it seems like the more you share, the less likely you are to get compassion.
We’ve worked our butts off to create a clinic where the unfiltered, real you, can show up and heal, so dammit give therapy a chance!
We love the unfiltered real you, let’s heal together. – Utah Family Therapy Team