You might have heard of EMDR and wondered exactly what it is. Some of my clients call it “voodoo,” but I assure you it isn’t! Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a set of standardized protocols that incorporate elements from many different treatment approaches. It has been researched extensively and proven effective for the treatment of trauma.
What Issues Can EMDR Treat?
It is used to treat a variety of mental health issues including:
- – Panic attacks
- – Complicated grief
- – Dissociative disorders
- – Disturbing memories
- – Phobias
- – Pain disorders
- – Performance anxiety
- – Stress reduction
- – Addictions
- – Sexual and/or Physical abuse
- – Body dysmorphic disorders
- – Personality Disorders
How Exactly Does EMDR Work?
Based on the research, it appears this therapy has a direct effect on the way the brain processes information. This is very beneficial to someone who has experienced a trauma, as their brain cannot process information as it normally does.
When a traumatic event or events happens to a person, a moment in time becomes “stuck” in their minds, and they experience the trauma, the sounds, smells and images over and over again. This, in turn, effects how they see the world around them and relate to other people.
After a successful session, the brain can once again process information normally, and the person no longer relives the trauma. While they still remember that the event happened, they are not physically, mentally or emotionally upset by it.
What is perhaps most interesting about this therapy is that it appears to be very similar to what occurs naturally during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. For this reason, EMDR can be considered a physiologically based therapy that helps individuals deal with distressing events in a new and less disturbing way.
What are EMDR Sessions Like?
EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that incorporates eight phases of treatment. How long it takes an individual to experience benefits of this therapy depends on their personal history.
Treatment typically targets three different areas: past memories, present disturbance, and future actions. The goal of this treatment is to process information and experiences differently. Each session aims to leave the patient with healthy emotions, understanding, and fresh perspectives that will ultimately lead to healthy and useful future behaviors and interactions.
How Long Does it Take EMDR to Work?
It is often helpful to have one or two sessions with the individual to fully understand the nature of their problem to determine if EMDR therapy will be an appropriate treatment. During these sessions, the therapist will answer any questions the prospective patient may have about EMDR. Once the therapist and individual agree EMDR is the right way to go, actual therapy may begin.
Sessions with clients in my practice typically last 60 minutes. How many sessions will be required depends on the type of problem, personal circumstances, and the degree of the trauma. EMDR may be used within a standard “talking” therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment all by itself.
If you want to know more about EMDR, reach out here to schedule your free, 15-minute phone consultation today. One of our Wake Forest counseling team will be happy to chat!