Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) refers to an interactive psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress. The theory behind the approach is that, traumatic and painful memories can cause post-traumatic stress when you don’t process them completely. Then, when sights, sounds, words, or smells trigger those unprocessed memories, you re-experience them.
EMDR aims to reduce symptoms of trauma by changing how your memories are stored in your brain. In a nutshell, an EMDR therapist leads you through a series of bilateral (side-to-side) eye movements as you recall traumatic or triggering experiences in small segments, until those memories no longer cause distress. While originally developed to treat trauma and PTSD, EMDR may also help relieve symptoms of other mental health concerns, especially those intertwined with past trauma.
Which conditions can EMDR therapy treat?
EMDR is generally recommended for people living with overwhelming traumatic memories and symptoms of PTSD. You may find it particularly helpful if you have a hard time sharing the trauma you’ve experienced with others, including therapists. EMDR has been recommended to treat the following to name a few:
- Panic Attacks
- Eating Disorders
- Substance Use Disorders
- Smoking Cessation
How does EMDR therapy work?
EMDR therapy is broken down into eight phases, so you’ll need to attend multiple sessions. Treatment usually consists of anywhere from 6 to 12 sessions, but more sessions may be needed as required. Each session can take from 60 to 90 minutes and may take several sessions to effect change, although you could notice improvement after your first session.
You might find the beginning of therapy triggers some emotional distress and discomfort, especially if you’re just starting to deal with traumatic events. Since EMDR doesn’t require you to talk about the trauma at length or spend extensive time thinking about it, it may feel less overwhelming than other approaches used to treat trauma.
If you become distressed during treatment, your therapist will help you return to the present before shifting to another traumatic memory. You’ll also learn relaxation and mindfulness strategies before you get started, and these techniques can help you manage these unwanted emotions.
If you would like more information about EMBR Therapy and how it could benefit you, then please feel free to contact me.