Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is often used to treat PTSD and other forms of trauma. EMDR focuses on the process of memory recall. During EMDR sessions, you relive traumatic or triggering experiences in small doses while the therapist directs your eye movements. Over 30 controlled outcome studies have shown positive outcomes with EMDR therapy. Some of the studies have shown:
- 84%-90% of trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after three 90-minute sessions.
- 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after six 50-minute sessions.
- 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions.
How does EMDR Work?
There are eight stages to EMDR therapy.
Stage 1: History and Treatment Planning. In this stage, the therapist will review your history and create a treatment plan based on the information they gather. They will ask you to discuss your trauma and in order to pinpoint specific traumatic events, you may have experienced.
Stage 2: Preparation. Your therapist will introduce coping techniques to help deal with emotions connected to your trauma. These include breathing techniques and mindfulness meditation.
Stage 3: Assessment. In this stage, your therapist will identify specific traumatic memories to target during EMDR and all the associated feelings and behaviors.
Stages 4 to 7: Treatment. During these sessions, you will be asked to focus on a negative thought or memory. Your therapist will have you perform specific eye movements while recalling these memories or thoughts. The bilateral stimulation may also include taps or other movements mixed in, depending on your treatment plan. After the bilateral stimulation, your therapist will ask you to let your mind go blank and notice the thoughts and feelings you’re having spontaneously. After you identify these thoughts, your therapist may have you refocus on that traumatic memory, or move on to another. Over time your stress, fears, and negative reactions to traumatic events should fade.
Stage 8: Evaluation. You and your therapist will begin examining the progress made thus far.
Who Benefits Most from EMDR?
EMDR has shown efficacy in treating mood and eating disorders as well as phobias. However, most EMDR is used to treat trauma, especially childhood trauma. Sometimes, the trauma that affects us most and we may not even realize it is childhood trauma. This is because those memories are so far removed from our adult selves. It takes total memory recall sometimes to address them or even realize them. There have been studies showing the efficacy of EMDR for middle-school-aged girls who are victims of trauma, especially sexual abuse. Most patients who complete EMDR treatment show no signs of repressed trauma, depression, or poor self-image.
How Legitimate is EMDR?
There have been more than 30 “gold standard” studies testing the efficacy of EMDR. These studies have concluded that EMDR is a legitimate treatment for trauma and other mental health disorders such as eating disorders and phobias. EMDR therapy has been endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. It is used by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and overseas organizations such as the United Kingdom Department of Health and the Israeli National Council for Mental Health.
If the concept of EMDR is confusing to you, just compare it to the process our brain goes through during REM sleep, which standards for rapid eye movement. It is in this sleep stage that we have most of our dreams. During this stage, your brain integrates information while you sleep, which is why your dreams are influenced significantly by your subconscious. Much like REM sleep, EMDR uses visual stimulation to help people process difficult memories.
When choosing an EMDR program, make sure to find a therapist licensed to perform EMDR. There is a high standard of quality and training for EMDR, so it is important to research credentials for any treatment facility that offers it. This therapy is NOT meant to retraumatize a person, and sometimes recalling traumatic memories can retraumatize. This is another reason why it is important to choose a qualified and licensed EMDR therapist.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that has shown to be effective in treating trauma and multiple types of therapies. It can be used alone or in combination with other therapies. At Avalon Malibu, EMDR is one of a large arrays of therapies available to treat substance use and behavioral health disorders and their root causes. Our dedicated team of mental health professionals will work with you to develop a plan to best suit your unique needs. They can equip you with the right tools to cope with daily stresses, that you can use within and outside our facility. Located on the coast of southern California, our facility will help you build your self-confidence and prepare you to lead a successful life of sustained recovery. If you are interested in learning more about EMDR therapy and our comprehensive approach to helping you along your journey to wellness, call us at (844) 857-5992.