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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is designed to treat those who suffer from the emotional aftereffects of traumatic memories.
Aiming to guide clients toward a renewed space of awareness, EMDR therapy alleviates distress while acknowledging and addressing the trauma that has caused mental, emotional, or physical harm. This therapy aims to promote healing and create an environment in which clients can feel comfortable discussing their thoughts and feelings. Designed to treat victims of trauma, this technique allows clients to empower their own healing processes through careful guidance and facilitation.
Disturbing experiences leave us with lingering wounds, which in the extreme result in PTSD symptoms. The psychological and physical symptoms stemming from PTSD can be devastating, but through the process of EMDR therapy, we work to resume the recovery of neglected pain. In a typical EMDR therapy session, an individual will address his/her history with trauma, establishing a connection with the past. From that point, there are eight phases that the EMDR therapy process consists of, including Assessment and Desensitization.
EMDR therapy has been proven effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including phobias, acute stress disorder, panic attacks, and other distressing life experiences, as the treatment effects include the replacing of negative beliefs with a more positive belief. One study even found that EMDR therapy led to a significant reduction in negative symptoms for patients suffering from psychosis.
In the realm of addiction, EMDR therapy is a key methodology in relapse prevention. Initially a treatment designed for post-traumatic stress disorder, EMDR therapy addresses similar aftereffects in newly recovering individuals, and instills a sense of stability and greater cognition of self in relation to the past, present, and future.
EMDR therapy procedures have been endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The EMDR institute trains mental health practitioners in this therapy method.
In fact, one study suggests that EMDR therapy is such an effective treatment that a hundred percent of people who had experienced a singular traumatic event and seventy-seven percent of multiple trauma victims improved so much after six sessions of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR therapy) that they no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. A systematic literature review also revealed that treating PTSD symptoms with EMDR therapy helps people with other psychiatric disorders improve their overall mental health.
The basic principles of EMDR therapy are based on an adaptive information processing model posited by the founder of EMDR therapy, Francince Shapiro. Typically, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) works by using bilateral stimulation, usually in the form of rapid, rhythmic eye movements, to initiate a natural healing process that can help lessen the power of traumatic memories. EMDR therapy is a highly structured therapy that involves eight distinct phases.
In the first of the eight phases associated with EMDR treatment, EMDR therapists begin the process of treatment planning by taking the patient’s history, which will help determine the course of the treatment process by identifying traumatic events to focus on as well as current triggers and future goals. In the second, the therapist continues the process of treatment planning by preparing for the client for the rest of the process to come and establishing a therapeutic relationship. The therapeutic relationship is necessary for the sense of trust needed to complete EMDR therapy.
In the third phase, assessment, a specific traumatic memory is selected, and specific characteristics the patients associate with the disturbing event are identified, such as images, body sensations, thoughts, and emotional distress. The therapist will help the patient to recognize the physical sensations they associate with the traumatic experiences by asking them to complete a body scan. They will also help the patients identify any negative beliefs associated with the trauma memory.
In phases four through seven, these trauma memories are revisited by the patient and therapist while the patient is simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation through eye movements. This allows them to relive their past trauma while also having an external stimulus to focus on, which desensitizes them to the targeted memory.
The clinical practice will also guide the client in replacing negative emotions and negative cognition associated with the distressing events they experienced with more positive beliefs and positive cognition. Replacing a negative belief with a positive belief can be very useful for patients who come to EMDR therapy to deal with the more diffuse effects of various adverse life experiences as opposed to a specific negative memory. The therapist may also help them to identify a lingering body sensation to focus on as they progress through treatment.
Though it is unknown how exactly EMDR therapy works, one of the suggested mechanisms of action as to why EMDR therapy is so effective at treating trauma because the bilateral stimulation helps the brain physically process the memory, leading to a reduction in the tendency to re-experience the psychological trauma along with work through the psychological stress in a safe setting.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is only one of the many mental health services offered at Reco Intensive. To learn more about our comprehensive addiction treatment program can help you or someone you love, feel free to call us anytime at 844.955.3042 or to contact us online here. There’s no time like the present to get back on the road to a better life and brighter future.
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