EMDR, short for Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing, is a form of psychotherapy designed for treating anxiety, depression, and traumatic stress. Unlike the treatments before it, EMDR is a type of therapy that patients do not have to discuss, in detail, traumatic events that would cause painful flashbacks, triggers, or nightmares. EMDR was formulated by Francine Shapiro in 1988 and is considered by the APA as evidence-based care for those suffering PTSD and trauma.
The brain is made up of many parts, and each part plays a certain role when a person has to process a major event in life.
When it comes to traumatic events, the amygdala and frontal lobe play key roles.
And the purpose of EMDR is to engage these two parts of the brain to make trauma treatment effective.
During a usual session, the therapist will employ tools or techniques to distract the patient’s frontal lobe (which controls reasoning and logic).
These could range from finger movement or toe-tapping to using an EMDR light bar or musical tones.
As they do so, the therapist will ask the patient to remember the traumatic event, which will cause the amygdala
(which controls fight, flight, and freeze reactions) to open up and allow the patient to feel they are in a safe place to work through their painful experiences.
As the session progresses, the therapist will help the patient move towards more pleasant or positive thoughts.
There are 8 phases within an EMDR session.
Evaluation: This phase involves determining the symptoms, making a diagnosis, and formulating an appropriate treatment.
Preparation: This phase involves teaching the patient effective coping skills so they can remain grounded between sessions.
Assessment: Here, the memory the therapist wants to help the patient process is selected. The core concepts of EMDR are applied during this phase and all the way to phase 8.
Desensitizing: During this phase the patient is asked to identify an image that is tied to the memory and their feelings. The therapist then asks questions with 0-10 scaling to establish the level of disturbance.
Installation: Once reaching this phase, the target memory will be linked with a positive belief the patient wants to feel within.
Body scan: The patient then gets the chance to scan through their body for tightness or tensions.
Closure: Once at this phase, the patient will no longer experience the painful memories or the distressing emotions affecting them. The session is considered complete.
Re-evaluation: By this phase, the patient begins reevaluating themselves and where they are now in regards to their previous session.
While targeting the frontal lobe and helping alter how a person thinks of a traumatic event is helpful, the amygdala must also be targeted.
Doing so will give the patient the capacity to process and put away their traumatic experience.
There is also no written activity or homework involved in EMDR.
But patients must practice and use coping skills during their day-to-day lives.
Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing is known to have higher rates of recovery and significantly fewer treatment dropouts.
For those who are not finding success in other therapies, EMDR therapy in a PTSD treatment center will be a truly life-changing alternative.
To learn more about EMDR trauma treatment, do contact or visit our PTSD treatment center. Our team will be more than happy to take your questions and provide the information you need.210-254-3618