What You Need to Know About EMDR Therapy
EMDR therapy has proven successful in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by processing traumatic memories without the need to revisit and talk at length about their traumatic experience/s. The process of EMDR therapy is slow and methodical, where the therapist helps retrain the brain’s responses related to the traumatic event.
EMDR therapy can also help with other mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, panic attacks and even addiction. Traditional therapies for mental health issues focus on teaching coping skills or talk therapy but EMDR therapy focuses on rewiring the brain through a series of bilateral stimulation that includes eye movements, hand taps or tones.
It uses an eight-phase treatment protocol that includes phases for preparation, history taking and assessment; education about post traumatic stress disorder; imaginal exposure; body scan; grounding/reality orientation; installation of adaptive information (self-help skills); and closure.
Organisations, such as the American Psychiatric Association, the Department of Defence and the World Health Organisation have conducted numerous studies into EMDR therapy and it is accepted as one of the most effective trauma-focused treatments for treating trauma and other distressing events.
EMDR Therapy: Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model
EMDR therapy is based on the adaptive information processing (AIP) framework. When the original feelings, bodily sensations, and beliefs are kept, high levels of arousal can be an effect of disturbing life experiences and their memory.
A flashback, nightmare, or intrusive thought can be re-experienced in a setting that activates the memory. A wide range of adverse events have also contributed to varied symptomology, including the negative affective cognitive and somatic reactions.
The capacity to treat unprocessed memories has a wide range of applications in medicine since they are frequently associated with numerous health issues.
The Goal of EMDR Therapy
The goal of EMDR therapy is to assist the client to overcome the effects of a traumatic event or past traumatic experiences. This involves a set of standardised procedures that incorporates elements from a variety of treatment techniques and has helped millions of people from all walks of life overcome psychological trauma.
During EMDR therapy, the client focuses on what is distressing them while they receive bilateral stimulation or input that has nothing to do with those memories. For example, if someone was sexually abused as a child, they might be asked to tap their fingers in time to a specific rhythm while thinking about these traumatic memories.
The bilateral stimulation acts to help the brain to integrate these memories.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
When post traumatic stress disorder is triggered, it can be debilitating to everyday life for many people. Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms are often very distressing and difficult to overcome, but treatment options, such as EMDR can help to alleviate some of these symptoms in the short term.
EMDR as a Treatment for PTSD
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing was developed by Francine Shapiro to treat traumatic memories and experiences. This multisensory input from EMDR therapy helps the brain reprocess distressing memories so they lose their emotional impact and can be integrated into the person’s life without causing them the distress commonly associated with post traumatic stress disorder.
The traumatic symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder include flashbacks, nightmares, exaggerated startle reflex, hypervigilant and a range of other physical sensations.
When a person suffering from post traumatic stress disorder undergoes a successful course of EMDR treatment, they should be able to recover from these unpleasant and often debilitating symptoms enabling them to:
- Have better control of their PTSD symptoms
- Experience reduced anxiety symptoms
- Improve the quality of their everyday life
- Be able to move on from painful and traumatic memories
- Experience better mental health and an improved sense of self.
EMDR therapy relieves affective distress, reformulates negative beliefs, and reduces physiological arousal.
This takes place as the client engages in brief sequential doses of emotionally troubling material while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus during EMDR therapy.
Who can Benefit from EMDR Therapy?
- EMDR therapy is less expensive than traditional talk therapy.
- EMDR therapy can be done in a shorter amount of time.
- Decreased or eliminated negative emotions
- Redirected thinking / new perspectives on the traumatic events
- Feelings of hope and self-empowerment
- Reduction in physical symptoms
- Normalisation of sensory experiences (sound, sight, etc.)
- Greater focus
- Integration of past events into the present
- Improved memory recall / new perspectives on traumatic memories
- Ability to feel comfortable in one’s own skin
- Better relationships
- Improved sleep
- Improved concentration
- Less daily stress.
During EMDR therapy sessions, clients are greeted by a highly trained and knowledgeable practitioner. The sessions are always designed to meet the needs of each individual client. EMDR is comprehensive and includes an eight-phase treatment approach with a treatment focus on past, present and future experiences. The therapist is there to help create a safe, comfortable, and relaxed environment where clients can express themselves freely throughout their treatment.
EMDR Therapy is More Than Just Trauma Treatment
EMDR therapy is generally known as an effective treatment for post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, trauma and other mental health conditions, but it has also been used effectively in the treatment of other conditions, including addiction. Using EMDR therapy for addictions can help overcome cravings and desires to use illicit substances or engage in certain addictive behaviours.
It can also help people who are trying to recover from drug overdoses or withdrawal symptoms caused by detoxing.
If you would like to learn more about eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing treatment for post traumatic stress disorder, or another mental health condition visit HERE
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Shannon Bowman is the Director of SJB Clinical Consulting Pty Ltd,
and Create Balance Psychotherapy & Counselling VIEW HERE.
Create Balance Laser Therapy VIEW HERE
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Shannon has a clinical interest in treating trauma, PTSD and ADHD.
He is accredited as an Mental Health Social Worker AMHSW,
psychotherapist and registered EMDR practitioner. Associations below.
Australian Association of Social Workers
EMDR Association of Australia