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.
STAGES IN EDMR
• 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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