Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is primarily used to treat individuals who have experienced trauma, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR integrates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) elements with bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, taps, or sounds.
EMDR has been widely researched and is considered an evidence-based treatment for PTSD and trauma-related symptoms. It is used not only for single-incident traumas but also for complex traumas and other mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
It's important to note that EMDR should be conducted by trained and licensed mental health professionals specifically trained in this therapeutic approach.
What is EMDR
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress related to trauma. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.
During EMDR therapy, the client learns to process trauma in brief sequential doses while focusing on an external stimulus. Therapist-directed lateral eye movements are the most commonly used external stimulus, but various other stimuli, including hand-tapping and audio stimulation, are often used.
EMDR therapy facilitates the process of accessing the traumatic memory network so that information processing is enhanced, with new associations forged between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories or information.
These new associations are thought to result in complete information processing, new learning, elimination of emotional distress, and development of new cognitive insights.
Reduce Traumatic Symptoms
EMDR has been shown to effectively reduce the symptoms of trauma, including intrusive memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and emotional distress related to traumatic events. Clients often report a decrease in the intensity and frequency of these symptoms.
Clients often experience an increased sense of self-efficacy and empowerment through the EMDR process. The ability to confront and process traumatic memories can lead to a greater understanding of control over one's emotions and reactions.
EMDR aims to reduce avoidance behaviours associated with trauma. As traumatic memories are processed, and their emotional charge decreases, individuals may find it easier to face reminders of the trauma without resorting to avoidance strategies.
Common misconceptions about EMDR
1. EMDR is only effective for eye movement.
Reality: While eye movements are a common form of bilateral stimulation used in EMDR, other conditions, such as tapping or auditory stimuli, can be equally effective. The effectiveness of EMDR is not solely dependent on the specific type of bilateral stimulation used.
2. EMDR erases or eliminates memories
Reality: EMDR does not erase memories. Instead, it aims to help individuals process and reframe traumatic memories so that they no longer cause significant emotional distress. The goal is to change the emotional charge associated with the memories.
3. EMDR is only for treating PTSD.
Reality: While EMDR is well-established as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it has also been used successfully for other conditions, including anxiety disorders, phobias, and depression. EMDR can be adapted for various mental health concerns.
How EMDR Can Help
Processing Traumatic Memories
EMDR focuses on processing traumatic memories in a structured and systematic way. This involves helping individuals recall distressing memories while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation (such as eye movements). This process aims to reduce the emotional charge associated with traumatic memories.
Improved Emotional Regulation
Individuals who have experienced trauma often struggle with emotional dysregulation. EMDR helps improve emotional regulation by addressing the underlying traumatic memories and reducing the intensity of associated emotions.
Reduction of PTSD Symptoms
EMDR has been extensively researched and is recognized as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, and avoidance behaviours.
Research suggests that the positive effects of EMDR are often maintained over the long term. Individuals who undergo EMDR treatment for trauma may experience lasting improvements in symptoms and overall functioning.
It's important to note that while EMDR has been shown to be effective for many individuals, it may not be suitable for everyone, and individual responses can vary. If you are considering EMDR, it's recommended to consult with a trained and licensed mental health professional to determine if it is an appropriate option for your specific needs and circumstances.
Learn More About Therapy
We vary in our needs, personalities, and the issues we face.
Different therapies address this diversity and provide practical approaches for each individual's unique situation.
Depending on your conditions and concerns, some therapies may be more suitable for you than others.