EMDR Therapy: Treating PTSD to Make Life Better
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is growing in popularity among traditional and non-traditional medical practitioners. Why? Because it works.
The highly-respected American Psychiatric Association has stated that EMDR is effective in treating acute and long-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the Department of Veterans Affairs, in conjunction with the Depart of Defense, has “strongly recommended” EDMR for treatment within both military and non-military environments.
This is especially important for veterans who experience the symptoms of PTSD as a result of time spent in war zones – times of tremendous stress.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
Many people, both military and non-military, experience the debilitating symptoms of PTSD that include:
• recurrent unpleasant memories
• flashbacks (reliving negative experiences)
• nightmares and night sweats
• severe emotional reactions to routine activities
• avoiding people, places, and things that trigger traumatic memories
• negative feelings about yourself
• emotional numbness and hopelessness
• memory problems
• self-destructive behaviors including substance abuse
• irritability and aggression
• panic attacks
• eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia
• free-floating anxiety
Symptoms vary in both intensity and diversity based on the nature of the traumatic event and the psychological history of each individual. In some cases, PTSD is a manageable condition when anti-anxiety drugs are prescribed. However, many of these drugs simply mask PTSD symptoms without addressing the underlying cause of those symptoms.
How does EMDR work?
EMDR targets past traumatic memories, current stress-inducing disturbances, and future actions of an individual experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.
EMDR practitioners develop a treatment protocol based on the individual needs of the client experiencing PTSD. The treatment focuses on reprocessing traumatic memories to desensitize the person experiencing these memories.
A typical EMDR session with a highly-trained practitioner can last as long as 90 minutes. The therapist slowly, gently moves his fingers in front of the client’s eyes with instructions to keep a close focus on the therapist’s hand movements.
Once in a relaxed state, the client will be asked about the traumatic events that are causing anxiety today. Over time, the therapist will redirect the client’s thought processes away from negative thoughts to positive expressions of self-control and self-respect.
The patient is fully involved in EMDR treatment, evaluating the impact of this desensitizing therapy after each session. The therapist notes trends in the client’s behavior, alleviating symptoms of PTSD. EMDR therapy protocols are then refined by the therapist based on improvements perceived by the client.
Does EMDR really work?
Though the process of desensitization has been the accepted treatment for PTSD for some time now, the use of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing has grown in popularity among professionals who treat clients with emotional trauma. In fact, more than 20,000 practitioners have been trained in EMDR therapy since it was first introduced in 1989.
Studies have shown that EMDR is a safe effective therapy with no negative side effects. The duration of treatment depends on the nature and cause of the client’s PTSD.
With each EMDR session, the client refocuses negative memories to bring closure to the trauma these memories caused, and continue to cause. These negative memories are reprocessed and replaced with positive experiences from the client’s life.
The therapist and client work closely to identify positive results. The trained therapist uses client evaluations to refine EMDR to best suit the emotional needs of the patient. For example, if PTSD has led to substance abuse issues, the therapist will reprocess negative memories away from alcohol or drugs to positive emotions of self-worth and increased confidence.
Numerous studies have shown that Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is very effective. The objective of EMDR therapy is the successful resolution of traumatic memories, and the creation of a clear context in which symptoms of PTSD are reprogrammed, improving quality of life for those who have experienced emotional trauma, whether the trauma occurred in childhood or recently.
Hawaii Island Recovery: Treating Emotional Pain with EMDR
Hawaii Island Recovery (HIR) employs a variety of coordinated therapies individualized for each client. HIR’s therapists are trained to identify instances in the client’s past that remain unresolved, and therefore, contribute to many of the symptoms of PTSD.
EMDR is an evidence-based therapy that uses the brain’s own self-healing power to restore sound, stable emotional health to individuals who experience the negative impact of past traumas every day.
To discover more about EMDR and how Hawaii Island Recovery uses this innovative therapy to treat emotional trauma and PTSD, be sure to attend our FREE EMDR webinar on November 12, 2015. To register for this informative presentation, simply click here.
EMDR webinar with Fernando Manon.