EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing) is a relatively new treatment technique that helps people…
What is EMDR Therapy?
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing continues to help thousands of people work through trauma every year.
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Of all the essential treatment services that are found in a high-quality drug treatment program, none are as important as therapy. Whether done in an individual or group setting, therapy helps bolster a client’s mental health, lessens the anxiety and panic attacks that can occur in treatment, and importantly addresses the underlying roots of their addictive behavior. An effective form of therapy found in many treatment centers—including Hawaii Island Recovery—is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR). What is EMDR? Read more.
What is EMDR?
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, or EMDR, is a form of psychotherapy. Developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980’s, EMDR therapy focuses specifically on helping people work through traumatic events and the resulting memories. When a person experiences something that is traumatic and do not process it properly, the impact of that event continues throughout their life. If left unresolved, people may turn to drugs and alcohol in order to cope.
Shapiro’s EMDR reprocessing therapy encourages helps the brain to work through these events and “reprocess” them. This settles many beliefs and behaviors that are developed as a result of not processing them in a healthy manner.
To understand what is EMDR, it helps to know how a session works. With the help of an experienced EMDR therapist, clients will target specific memories that cause present-day emotional distress. The client will place their focus on one memory at a time. EMDR therapy utilizes visual cues, such as the therapist’s hand, pointer finger, or a light board, to stimulate the brain while sitting with the memory. Some EMDR therapists choose to use sensory cues, like tapping, or audio cues through a headset.
The visual, physical, or auditory stimulation encourages the rewiring process in the brain. The therapist checks in with the client between “sets” of cues to see how the client perceives the memory. It usually takes between one and three sessions of treatment to work through one of the client’s traumatic memories.
A Deeper Look
You have a brief understanding of what is EMDR. How does a course of treatment with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing work? There are guidelines for therapists to follow when taking you through a course of EMDR treatment.
The method is broken down into eight phases:
- Phase 1: Your therapist looks into and takes down your history.
- Phase 2: You work with your therapist to prepare for EMDR treatment.
- Phase 3: During a session, you focus in on a specifically selected memory.
- Phases 4-7: Work through the memory to resolution with your therapist.
- Phase 8: You and your therapist evaluate the results of your EMDR treatment.
You work through each phase of treatment for each memory you need to target. The process is solution-oriented and does not focus on the trauma for longer than necessary. A therapist’s goal using EMDR is to reach a resolution as efficiently as possible.
When Does EMDR Work Best?
EMDR therapy is utilized to help people plagued by their traumatic memories. This form of therapy is particularly effective in those clients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It is estimated that 70 percent of people experience some type of traumatic experience in their lives. 20 percent of these people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result. The symptoms of PTSD range from mild to severe depending on the person. Some are so entirely debilitated by their symptoms and have difficulties leaving the house.
When disturbing memories leave a lasting impact and the person develops PTSD, therapists often turn to EMDR to help. Through working together, the individual and their therapist process through difficult memories. As they work through each, they find their symptoms decrease over time to the point they no longer struggle with PTSD.
How Effective is EMDR?
The length of EMDR treatment depends on how long your behaviors and beliefs continue for. The more deeply ingrained your memories are, the longer treatment lasts. Depending on how many memories you must work through, treatment may take up to a few months.
Still, research shows that in 84 to 90 percent of cases, it takes between one and three sessions to process through a memory. Many therapists see EMDR as an effective form of treatment for those who struggle with the impact of their traumatic past.
In one study, 77 percent of war veterans found freedom from PTSD symptoms after 12 sessions. In another study, 100 percent of people with a single traumatic experience no longer struggled with PTSD after six sessions.
Finding Treatment for Trauma
The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner you can reach a resolution with your past. After understanding what is EMDR, you may realize it could help you with the symptoms you live with. Facilities like Hawaii Island Recovery staff therapists who specialize in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy.
EMDR Treatment | Hawaii Island Rercovery