What Is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a specialized and evidence-based therapy approach that helps people to recover from symptoms and emotional distress that may occur from traumatic experiences. EMDR contains elements of cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential and psychodynamic therapies. Research shows people who undergo EMDR therapy can experience benefits earlier than those using conventional therapy modalities. Trauma can interrupt the brain’s natural ability to resolve painful emotional/psychological experiences. EMDR serves as a therapeutic framework that can restore this process. Studies have shown that between 84 and 90 percent of single-trauma victims are no longer showing signs of PTSD after three sessions of EMDR.

EMDR is an eight-phase treatment combining different elements to maximize its treatment effects. An emphasis is placed on three periods of the patient’s life; past, present, and future to help identify trauma, its cases, and its effects on an individual. The focus on the future is to assist in developing a guided plan toward recovery.

Phase 1: A therapist will assess a client’s readiness for treatment and develop a plan. Targets of this initial phase can be related to incidents of the past and skills that can help the client in future situations.

Phase 2: The therapist ensures the client has multiple avenues to handle emotional distress in their life. Some of these avenues can be imagery and stress reduction techniques to practice between sessions.

Phase 3-6: Using EMDR, targets, and goals for therapy are established and processed. This typically entails three things to identify: vivid visual images related to trauma, negative beliefs and thoughts, and related emotions and body sensations. Positive beliefs/thoughts are established to counteract negatives. During this process, clients are instructed to focus on images, negative thoughts, and body sensations while simultaneously using sets of bilateral stimulation. After each set of stimulation, the therapist guides clients through processing these experiences.

Phase 7: This is the closure phase where the therapist asks clients to keep weekly logs of events that occur during the week. This helps to remind clients of techniques they have already mastered.

Phase 8: This phase includes EMDR techniques targeting all related historical events and current life events causing emotional distress.

EMDR treatment is a highly researched, evidence-based, and a very successful therapeutic approach in helping to treat people suffering from the results of traumatic experiences.

To learn more about EMDR therapy treatments click the link – “What Is The Actual EMDR Session Like?”

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