Know this about EMDR

EMDR therapy, also known as eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy, is a  method of mental health care. In order to process painful memories using this technique, you must move your eyes in a precise manner. Your recovery from trauma or other upsetting life events is the aim of EMDR. EMDR is a relatively recent therapy approach when compared to other types. In 1989,  the first clinical study examining EMDR was conducted. Since EMDR’s creation, many of clinical trials have demonstrated its efficacy and ability to treat a person more quickly than many other techniques. 

The goal of EMDR treatment is to reduce the distress brought on by upsetting memories. Eye  Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or  EMDR, asks patients to think back on a particular traumatic event while reacting to a therapist-provided side-to-side visual stimulus. The subsequent lateral eye movements are believed to assist in lowering the emotional intensity of the memory, allowing it to be safely addressed,  digested, and devoid of the ability to incite anxiety and avoidance. There hasn’t been a widely accepted explanation proposed to explain why lateral eye movements are essential to the therapy. 

Additionally, it is unclear from the evidence whether  EMDR is better than conventional exposure  treatment, in which patients experience painful  memories in a therapeutically-created safe  environment; The dread and avoidance of the  memory and any situations that could trigger it  decrease with repeated exposure to the painful  memory in the safe setting. 

Patients must be able to bear some emotional  discomfort and not emotionally shut down or easily  become overwhelmed by feelings in order to be a  candidate for EMDR therapy. In order for patients to  successfully reprocess their memories, they must be  able to access their cognitive and emotional  resources. Despite proof that the strategy is  effective, no clear-cut theory as to how it  accomplishes this has ever been proposed. Studies  have also questioned whether eye movements are  actually necessary for the process, suggesting that  exposure therapy—recalling, confronting, and  reprocessing painful memories—is the real method  for desensitisation to traumatic memories. 

Nevertheless, a fresh hypothesis might be  developing. Neuroscientist Andrew Haberman of  Stanford University has been persuaded by years of  research on the visual system that lateral eye  movement is both necessary and explicable. 

According to him, this movement imitates optic flow,  which relaxes the fear system and momentarily  lessens the sensation of threat that traumatic  memories carry. While EMDR is typically used to  treat PTSD, some studies suggest that it may also  be useful in treating depression, anxiety, eating  disorders, and phobias that are not caused by  trauma. However, the majority of studies have  simply examined whether EMDR can treat PTSD. 

Given the small size of known trials and the degree  of potential bias in studies, most meta-analytic  studies present equivocal results. Researchers and  psychologists don’t fully comprehend the mechanics  underlying EMDR, as they do with many  psychological therapy, in the same way that a doctor  can. 


• The client history and treatment plans are done  in the first stage of EMDR. A thorough history  aids the clinician in determining the client’s  readiness and any secondary benefits that  sustain the client’s current issue. The physician  selects the best focus for treatment by examining the dysfunctional behaviours,  symptoms, and unique traits. Prioritized for sequential processing are the goals that were  selected as the foundation for the client’s  pathology. 

• Preparation is the second stage, during which  the client and therapist establish a therapeutic  alliance. Setting acceptable expectations with  the support of the therapist. In order to finish  unfinished sessions and maintain stability  before, after, and during sessions, he or she  teaches the person certain self-control  strategies. The client is given instructions by the  therapist on how to control the treatment  session by using stop signals and metaphors.  The therapist clarifies the client’s  

symptomatology and helps the patient  comprehend how the trauma is still being  actively processed. 

• The third stage, during which the patient and  the therapist decide on the session’s target  memory. The patient is then advised to choose  the most prominent image connected to this  recollection, and with assistance, he or she will  be assisted in eliciting negative beliefs  connected to it that offer an insight into the  absurdity of the specific incident. Additionally,  the target is given empowering beliefs that  conflict with his or her emotional experiences. 

• The client’s unsettling occurrence is assessed in  the fourth desensitisation phase to alter the sensory experiences and associations linked to  trauma. This phase also includes boosting one’s  sense of self-efficacy and evoking insight. The  client is told to pay attention to both the target  image and the client’s eye movement at the  same time throughout this phase, and to be  open to whatever occurs. The client is told to  take a deep breath and to stop paying attention  to whatever it is they are focusing on after each  set of eye movements. 

• The therapist makes an effort to strengthen the  positive cognition that is intended to replace  the negative one in the fifth step, known as the  installation phase. The most improving positive  cognition is coupled with the previously  dysfunctional material during the bilateral  stimulation. 

• The body scan phase, which comes after phase  six, asks the client to have their body examined  to see if there are any somatic reactions that  might still be harbouring stress from the  targeted incident. The therapist focuses on this  bodily experience for additional processing if it  is there. When reprocessing is not complete, the  self-control strategies that were previously  taught are applied in the seventh phase of  closure.

There are eight phases of EMDR therapy. During one  portion of the session, eye movements (or other  bilateral stimulation) are used. The client is  instructed to keep various details of the event or  thought in mind as the therapist’s hand glides back  and forth across the client’s field of vision. This is  done after the clinician has decided which memory  to focus on initially. 

Trauma therapy called EMDR is occasionally viewed  as controversial. The possibility of harmful side  effects and the dearth of extensive research are two  factors that could lead someone to believe it is a  contentious therapy option. Although EMDR is risk free and helpful, there are certain dangers attached  to the treatment. Trauma survivors benefit from  EMDR therapy because it can aid in the psychological healing of the trauma’s wounds. Since  EMDR can deal with the memories and emotions  connected to trauma directly, it is preferred over  traditional talk therapy. EMDR therapy, however, is  not popular with everyone.  

Advantages of EMDR  

Many individuals have found relief from the  psychological scars of trauma because to EMDR, a trauma therapy. EMDR is chosen over traditional  conversation therapy because it can deal with  trauma-related memories and emotions without the  need to discuss the trauma in-depth. Even more so  than other trauma-focused therapies like cognitive  behavioural therapy, it acts more swiftly.  Additionally, it can aid in the bodily symptoms you  experience as a result of the trauma. 

EMDR is a safe and helpful therapy, although it does  have certain negative effects. For the most secure  and productive outcomes, EMDR should only be  utilised under the supervision of a qualified  specialist. 

Targeting upsetting memories and self-defeating  ideas is how EMDR works. These recollections or  thoughts may not have even occurred to you before  you began working. However, by recognising them,  you may learn how to deal with them and go on.  Traumatic events can occur even before death.  Maybe you were the main caregiver for a person  who passed away from a dreadful illness. Or perhaps you had a sudden and unexpected loss. No  matter the situation, some people go through a  stage where life seems pointless and the future  seems dark.

EMDR aids in the processing of the trauma-related  symptoms of mourning. It can relieve your  immediate physical discomfort and lower the  intensity of your emotional reactions. 

Can EMDR Be Harmfull?  

Even sceptics who disagree with the effectiveness of  EMDR generally concur that it poses no immediate  hazards when used appropriately. The top EMDR  organisations advise against trying to apply EMDR  procedures on yourself. 

Even a proven therapy approach like EMDR  counselling, though, might go wrong when used by  the incorrect professional. Using excessive stress  and reinforcing PTSD during an EMDR therapy  session can make the initial issue worse. Finding a  qualified practitioner with sufficient professional  expertise in PTSD and secure EMDR techniques is  crucial for this reason. Do not attempt to “work  through it” if you feel that an EMDR session is  making your condition worse. Tell the doctor right  now instead. 

One or more of the adverse effects of EMDR therapy  sessions may include vivid dreams, increased sensitivity to emotions and bodily sensations,  dizziness, anxiety, and headaches. 

These negative effects, however, usually disappear  after a few sessions. In fact, after just a few sessions,  you are likely to see a general improvement in your  everyday symptoms. 

People naturally wish to be treated because of some  processes that are difficult to manage or digest and  that bring up unpleasant memories. However, some people are concerned about the therapy because  they believe it will have negative side effects. 

Usually, these adverse effects don’t persist very  long. The client keeps working through their painful  experiences during treatment, which helps them  better absorb and deal with their trauma-related  emotions. 

The first few sessions of therapy can be upsetting  and emotional for many patients. The client may  experience emotional overload during the length of  treatment, but especially during the actual sessions.

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