An eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy program, or an EMDR therapy program, draws on the brain’s innate ability to heal itself and form new connections. A therapist trained in the EMDR approach will be able to tap into the link between eye movement and memory processing. From there, they can assist you with multiple issues at trauma and PTSD treatment centers.
Who Benefits Most From An EMDR Therapy Program?
Because eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy is based on reprocessing of memories, individuals who may benefit most from EMDR have experienced trauma or have other behavioral health concerns related to memories. EMDR is most commonly associated with the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but can also be used in the treatment of:
- Substance use disorders
- Panic disorders
- Anxiety disorders that require an anxiety disorder treatment center
- Borderline personality disorder
EMDR can also help anyone who has experienced trauma even if they have not been officially diagnosed with PTSD.
What Is EMDR Therapy?
Now you might be wondering, “What is EMDR therapy anyway?” Positive results can become apparent rapidly during a session in an EMDR therapy program. The therapy itself follows eight stages of treatment:
- Learning the individual’s history
- Establishing a baseline ability to cope with distress
- Selecting a vivid, visual memory to address
- Identifying a negative self-belief associated with that memory
- Identifying other emotions and physical sensations associated with that memory, including a positive belief
- Processing the memory using EMDR
- Keeping a weekly log to track progress
- Evaluating progress
From there, your therapist will determine if you need additional mental health treatment programs.
How Does EMDR Work?
An EMDR therapy program aims to replicate the eye movements made during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This is the phase in the sleep cycle when your brain processes events of the day. Then, your brain stores them in memory. When your brain processes events correctly, emotions associated with them should fade away. It’s like when you go to sleep angry and frustrated, and then wake up feeling “back to normal.”
Sometimes the events of the day are too much for the brain to handle, and these disturbing or traumatic events aren’t processed properly. As a result, your brain revisits those events often (i.e., during flashbacks) and the emotions associated with those events also linger.
An EMDR therapy program helps the brain to reprocess those disturbing events and to thus let go of the emotions associated with them. As part of this individual therapy program, the negative memory is processed and paired with a positive self-belief, such as “I am stronger now.” The therapy is repeated as needed in order to target and process all specific memories related to a traumatic event.