What is EMDR?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is an interactive psychotherapy technique that helps you process and recover from previous traumatic experiences affecting your mental health. When not processed completely, traumatic and painful memories can cause post-traumatic stress. As a result, sounds, visuals, words, or smells, trigger those unprocessed memories, causing you to relive or re-experience them. The re-experiencing results in emotional distress and other symptoms recognized as post-traumatic stress disorder. Fortunately, Financial District EMDR changes how memories are stored in your brain, thus reducing symptoms of trauma.

What does EMDR help with?

EMDR was developed and is best known as a mental health treatment technique for trauma or post-traumatic stress. The Work Health Organization recognizes it as a treatment for PTSD. However, specialists can also use eye movement desensitization and therapy to treat other mental health difficulties such as addiction, depression, anxiety, behavioral issues, relationship problems, and serious illnesses like personality disorders and psychosis.

How does EMDR work?

EMDR’s specific structure often involves working with a therapist through several stages. You will need to attend multiple sessions because therapy has eight phases. Usually, treatment consists of anywhere from six to twelve sessions, but sometimes more sessions are required. Below are the different stages or phases of EMDR therapy.

  • History and treatment planning

First, your therapist reviews your symptoms and health history to understand better where you are in the treatment process. The evaluation may also include a brief discussion of your trauma and identification of potential memories to address.

  • Preparation

You will learn different techniques to help you manage and cope with the emotional or psychological stress you are experiencing. These techniques will also help you manage uncomfortable feelings that might come up during treatment; this is called resourcing. Examples of stress management methods that you might learn include meditation and deep breathing.

  • Assessment

For the thirst stage of EMDR treatment, your therapist will guide you through selecting a specific memory to target and an aspect of that memory, including intrusive thoughts or images, distressing self-beliefs, and painful emotions or physical sensations.

  • Desensitization, installation, body scan, and closure

The next four stages are where your therapist uses EMDR techniques to address the targeted memories. Desensitization involves focusing on the negative image, memory, or thought while guided through bilateral stimulation, including tapping, audio tones, making specific eye movements, or blinking lights.

Installation involves replacing an unwanted belief with a positive one; you will focus on it through another repetition of bilateral stimulation. If the targeted memory triggers uncomfortable physical pain or sensations, you will be led through another repetition of bilateral stimulation. Your therapist will explore your progress after each session and suggest relaxation techniques and coping strategies to help you maintain improvements.

  • Re-evaluation

Re-evaluation usually begins in the next session. You will discuss with your therapist the memories and feelings you addressed in the previous sessions. If they still cause distress, the targeting continues. But if not, you will move on to new targets.

Request an appointment with your specialist at David Salvage, MD, FAPM, to know how you can benefit from EMDR.