Updated: Sep 16, 2020
The mental health community is always looking for new ways to treat issues that so many of us deal with. While talk therapy can work for some, others might need something a little different. One of these emerging therapies is called EMDR, or also known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This type of therapy uses a variety of eye movements, sounds, or taps to help our brains associate past experiences in healthier way.
EMDR should be performed by a licensed and trained mental health professional. It is not recommended to try to do this type of therapy with someone that isn’t trained to do so. EDMR consists of eight phases that you go through with a training professional’s assistance. Each individual’s specific needs will be accessed to determine how many sessions are needed. When going through the eight phases of EMDR, it’s important to not focus on the speed of progress. While it may seem like faster healing than other forms of therapy, it’s important to give each individual the time they need to fully benefit from the therapy.
The eight phases of EMDR focus on three different categories: past memories, present disturbance and future actions. The first phase focuses on history and planning how EMDR can best help each person. This step does not need to include extensive details about whatever traumatic event the patient is trying to heal. The therapist will only need an overview of the information in order to start treatment. Phase two focuses solely on preparation. This step includes therapists explaining the details of EMDR, how it can help and what to expect. This step (like many of the others) is unique to each individual. The third phase is called Assessment. This phase is when the patient works together with the therapist to identify what negative events or beliefs are trying to be healed. During this phase, the patient will begin to reprocess how they feel about this event or belief. The fourth phase is desensitization. This is the phase that includes therapists performing a set of eye moments, sounds or taps and rating the emotions that come along with them. Phase five is known as installation. This includes enforcing the positive beliefs and emotions to make sure that the patient is able to continue using them in their lives beyond therapy. Phase six is called body scan. This phase includes bringing back the original troubling event or belief and rating how it feels different. If there is any place where the patient feel stuck, the previous phases will be repeated as needed. Phase seven is closure and is how each treatment session will end. Finally, phase eight is reevaluation. This phase is how each session will start and will evaluate a patient’s progress, specific treatment plans and if any other treatments are needed.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing can be helpful for treating a variety of issues. In many cases, it is commonly used to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD and trauma. It’s important to remember that trauma is specific to each person. Everyone has experienced some sort of trauma at some point in their life. While there are varying degrees of trauma, there may be things that need processing without even a person’s conscious awareness of it. An EMDR trained therapist can help each person discover if this form of therapy can help them. They can also determine what kind of things someone may not be categorizing as trauma (or PTSD) but actually does need some attention.
Like any other kind of therapy, EMDR may work better for some than others. It is not a magic cure to fix everyone’s mental health issues and will require your willingness to heal. However, it is an alternative for people who do not always feel comfortable or ready to embark on the traditional talk therapy journey. Everyone heals differently and knowing all of the tools you can use to heal is incredibly empowering. Nobody chooses to go through trauma, mental health disorders or troubling events. But they can choose to heal from them. Every human is born being deserving of healing into the happiest, healthiest and most actualized version of themselves.
If you have questions about whether or not EMDR is right for you please feel free to call our office for a free 15 minute consultation.
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