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What is EMDR and how does it work?

Dr.Omair Ansar
January 21, 2023
Emdr

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy technique used to help people suffering from traumatic life events, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, and more. But what does EMDR involve, and how does it work?

What is EMDR?

EMDR was developed in the late 1980s by Francine Shapiro, an American mental health counsellor trained in cognitive behavioural therapy and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. It’s an evidence-based therapy technique that helps individuals reprocess traumatic experiences into positive and manageable memories. During an EMDR session, the therapist directs patients through a personalized series of movements or exercises while they focus on past trauma. This process is designed to reduce symptoms of distress, such as heightened anxiety or avoidance reactions to triggers related to the event.

How Does EMDR Work?

The basic principle behind EMDR is that when traumatic memories are re-experienced and adequately processed, we can better control our emotions and behaviour when facing distressing situations. During an EMDR session, the therapist will guide you through bilateral stimulation (BLS), which includes alternating auditory or visual stimulation signals presented bilaterally across the body at 30-second intervals.

Additionally, eye movement desensitization techniques—which include rapid tracking back and forth with your eyes—are also used during these BLS sessions. Moving your eyes back and forth following specific patterns while focusing on a particular memory or emotion associated with it provides new insight into previously upsetting experiences that can help resolve ongoing issues related to these events.

It’s important to note that you do not have to relive the memory during a BLS session; instead, you’ll find yourself viewing the past event from different perspectives while also challenging unhelpful thinking patterns associated with the incident. Through this process of identification of thought distortions before attending mindfulness training sessions accompanied by new instructions for managing future situations in more adaptive ways, BLS has been found helpful for those who use it for treating various psychological issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As mentioned previously, this exposure therapy can be highly effective in helping individuals develop better means of coping with unavoidable challenges, such as fear-related anxiety symptoms due to prior traumas involving scary incidents either experienced directly or witnessed indirectly via media outlets.

Benefits of EMDR Therapy

The benefits of EMDR therapy are numerous. It effectively treats various psychological issues, including PTSD, phobias, panic attacks, and depression. Additionally, it can help reduce symptoms of distress, such as heightened anxiety or avoidance reactions to triggers related to the event.

EMDR is also known for its ability to help individuals reprocess traumatic experiences into positive and manageable memories. This exposure therapy can be highly effective in assisting individuals in developing better means of coping with unavoidable challenges, such as fear-related anxiety symptoms due to prior traumas. Finally, EMDR is a relatively short-term therapy that can provide long-lasting results.

 Types of Trauma Treated with EMDR

There are various types of trauma treated with EMDR, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; neglect; natural disasters; accidents; death of a loved one; combat-related experiences; and terrorist attacks. Additionally, EMDR can treat anxiety disorders, phobias, panic attacks, depression, substance use disorders, eating disorders, and other psychological issues. In conclusion, EMDR is an evidence-based therapy that effectively treats various psychological problems. Through bilateral stimulation and eye movement desensitization techniques, individuals can reprocess traumatic memories into positive and manageable memories. Additionally, EMDR is a relatively short-term therapy that can provide long-lasting results.

The 8-Phase Protocol for EMDR Therapy

The 8-Phase Protocol for EMDR Therapy is a comprehensive approach to treating psychological issues with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This protocol consists of eight distinct phases designed to help individuals safely and effectively process traumatic memories. The eight phases include:

  • 1. History Taking: During this phase, the therapist will take a detailed history of the individual’s past experiences and current symptoms. This helps the therapist understand the individual’s needs and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
  • 2. Preparation: During this phase, the therapist will provide education about EMDR and explain how it works. Additionally, they will discuss relaxation techniques that can be used during treatment.
  • 3. Assessment: During this phase, the therapist will assess the individual’s current level of distress related to the traumatic memory. This helps the therapist determine which target to focus on during treatment.
  • 4. Desensitization: During this phase, the therapist will use bilateral stimulation (BLS), such as eye movements or tapping, to help the individual process and desensitize their traumatic memories.
  • 5. Installation: During this phase, the therapist will work with the individual to install new positive beliefs about themselves and their experiences. This helps replace negative self-beliefs that the trauma may have created.
  • 6. Body Scan: During this phase, the therapist will help the individual become aware of any physical sensations associated with the traumatic memory. This allows the individual to become more aware of their body and any physical reactions to triggers.
  • 7. Closure: During this phase, the therapist will help the individual develop coping skills to manage any distress they may experience.
  • 8. Reevaluation: During this phase, the therapist will assess the successful treatment and determine if any further sessions are necessary.

In conclusion, EMDR is an evidence-based therapy that effectively treats various psychological issues. Through bilateral stimulation and eye movement desensitization techniques, individuals can reprocess traumatic memories into positive and manageable memories. Additionally, EMDR is a relatively short-term therapy that can provide long-lasting results. The 8-Phase Protocol for EMDR Therapy is a comprehensive approach to treating psychological issues with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This protocol consists of eight distinct phases designed to help individuals safely and effectively process traumatic memories.

Preparing for an EMDR Session

Preparing for an EMDR session is essential to ensure that the individual is comfortable and ready to process their traumatic memories. Before beginning treatment, the therapist will discuss relaxation techniques with the individual, such as deep breathing or guided imagery. Additionally, the therapist will provide education about EMDR and explain how it works. This helps the individual understand what to expect during treatment and can help reduce any anxiety they may feel. The therapist will also assess the individual’s current level of distress related to their traumatic memory so that they can determine which target to focus on during treatment. Lastly, individuals must come prepared with a list of questions or concerns they would like to discuss with their therapist before beginning treatment.

Common Questions About EMDR Therapy

One of the most common questions about EMDR therapy is how long it will take to complete. While the length of treatment can vary depending on the individual and their specific needs, most people can expect to spend 8-12 sessions in therapy. Additionally, many individuals can process their traumatic memories and gain relief from symptoms within a few sessions.

Another common question about EMDR therapy is whether or not it is safe. EMDR is considered a safe and effective treatment for various psychological issues. During treatment, individuals are always in control and can stop the session anytime if they feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed.

Finding a Qualified EMDR Therapist

Finding a qualified EMDR therapist is essential to ensure that the individual receives the best possible treatment. When searching for an EMDR therapist, individuals should look for someone certified in EMDR and who has experience treating trauma. Additionally, it is essential to find a therapist knowledgeable about the 8-Phase Protocol for EMDR Therapy who can provide evidence-based care. Lastly, finding a therapist who makes the individual feel comfortable and safe during treatment is essential. It is also beneficial to ask questions such as how long they have been practising EMDR therapy and their success rate with treating trauma. By taking these steps, individuals can be sure that they receive quality care from a qualified professional.

Side Effects

Side effects of EMDR therapy are typically mild and short-lived. During treatment, individuals may experience some emotional discomfort as they process their traumatic memories. This can include feelings of sadness, anxiety, or anger. Additionally, individuals may also experience physical sensations such as headaches or nausea. However, these side effects are usually temporary and should subside shortly after the session. It is important to note that EMDR therapy does not cause any long-term harm to an individual’s mental health. Many people find that their symptoms improve significantly after completing EMDR treatment.

Lab investigations Before EMDR Therapy 

Before beginning EMDR therapy, the therapist may recommend that the individual undergoes specific lab investigations, like an advanced neurotransmitter study offered by Labme on your doorstep. This ensures that any underlying physical conditions are identified and addressed before treatment begins. Typical lab investigations include blood tests, urine tests, and imaging scans such as an MRI or CT scan. The therapist may also recommend psychological testing to assess the individual’s mental health status. By undergoing these tests, individuals can be sure they receive safe and effective trauma treatment.

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What Is Emdr And How Does It Work? 3

Conclusion

In conclusion, EMDR therapy is a safe and effective treatment for trauma. It can help individuals process their traumatic memories and relieve symptoms in just a few sessions. To ensure that they receive the best possible care, individuals should look for a qualified EMDR therapist who is certified in EMDR and has experience treating trauma. Additionally, it is essential to undergo lab investigations before beginning treatment to identify any underlying physical conditions or psychological issues that may need to be addressed. With the proper care and support, EMDR therapy can be invaluable for healing from trauma.

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