What is EMDR Therapy?
EMDR Therapy is a proven researched therapy that helps to relieve emotional distress from distressing experiences. in the brain that hasn’t been processed or is “frozen in time.” EMDR helps the brain to resume processing of different stressors and trauma by using bi-lateral stimulation (right/left stimulation) such as eye movement, tapping or audible sounds. EMDR therapy is often compared to the rapid eye movement in REM sleep which helps your brain to process emotional experiences while you are asleep.
What can EMDR therapy be used for?
EMDR therapy has been proven as an effective treatment for post traumatic stress but it can also be used for:
- Distressing events
- Panic Disorders
- Peformance Anxiety
- Severe Phobias
- Sexual or Physical Trauma
- Disturbing memories
What does EMDR Therapy Look like?
EMDR therapy sessions last anywhere from 1 hour to 90 minutes. Depending on the severity of the trauma or distress, clients may find relief in as soon as 1-2 sessions. Complex trauma and stressors require more work, but studies have found EMDR therapy to be significantly faster than just talk therapy alone. Many client like EMDR because it allows their brains to do the processing without having to talk about all of the details of the distressing memory/event out loud.
There are generally 8 phases to EMDR Treatment which include:
History Taking and Treatment Planning
This phase usually lasts 1-2 sessions and allows the therapist to evaluate the extent of the trauma or distressing event(s) that brought the client into treatment. The counselor will help the client explore past events that may be contributing to symptoms of stress and work with the client to formulate a treatment plan
The Counselor will help to prepare the client for EMDR therapy by building trust and helping them understand what to expect during EMDR. Clients will also learn coping mechanisms and resources to use to deal with difficult emotional disturbances.
This stage of treatment assesses the specific memories to be processed and examines the negative beliefs that the client has about him/herself in regards to the memory. The client also identifies the positive belief they would like to have about themself.
During this phase therapist will use bi-lateral stimulation while the client is asked to attend to the target memory. There are no rules for this part of therapy and the client is instructed to be open to whatever comes to their mind. This is the minds way of processing. Sometimes clients are surprised by what comes to memory during this part of the process but rest assured, there is no way to get EMDR wrong, your brain does its own work.
The therapist helps the client to increase positive cognitions and replace negative ones associated with the memory
Our body is often reffered to as somatic, holding tension that our mind is not always aware of. The body scan allows the client to scan their body for any sensations where they may feel stress or tension that is still remaining.
Counselors use techniqes and resources that were previously taught to the client to bring the client back to equillibrium before leaving the session. Closure is often used at the end of the session when memories have not been completely reprocessed. The goal of closure is to minimize disturbances between sessions.
This phase is carried out to make sure that treatment is completed and that there are no additional memories that need to be reprocessed.