Traumatic events happen every day and unfortunately many people experience them. If you are someone who has been affected by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, it’s possible you can develop post-traumatic stress disorder. It may feel like the flashbacks of horrific events are too much to bear at times. But there’s good news – a type of psychotherapy called EMDR can help address your trauma associated with PTSD and give you relief.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based, specialized therapy that has been found to help treat people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In recent years, this type of therapy has been found to be useful in the treatment of other disorders such as panic disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, dissociative disorders, and disorders related to any type of trauma.
How EMDR works
EMDR therapy is customized to your specific trauma and needs. EMDR helps you access and process traumatic memories while bringing you to a healthy resolution. This is done by addressing traumatizing memories while completing different eye movements, hand-tapping, and audio stimulations. After recalling your memories, your EMDR therapist will ask you to discuss all of the emotions and thoughts you experienced during that time. The overall goal is to create new, positive associations with traumatic memories.
EMDR follows a three-pronged belief:
- Processing the past events that have laid the groundwork for dysfunction and forging new associative links with new information
- Targeting the current circumstances that elicit distress and desensitizing internal and external triggers
- Incorporating imagined templates of future events to help you acquire the skills needed to adapt to new associations
EMDR must be done by a trained therapist as it is a specialized type of therapy. Sessions last no more than one hour each and studies have shown that EMDR therapy can be very beneficial. It does not require the use of any medication, has few side effects, and is highly effective.
EMDR therapy addresses trauma by using an eight-phase treatment approach:
- History sessions – Your therapist will learn about your trauma(s) and develop a treatment plan for you to follow. Initial treatment may focus on experiences from your childhood rather than those that have taken place as an adult.
- Coping techniques – Here, your therapist will make sure you have the necessary tools available to help you handle emotional distress. Imagery and stress-reduction techniques might be provided that you can use between sessions.
3-6. Target identified – With EMDR, the target identified is something that triggers your PTSD. You will identify a vivid visual image related to your traumatic memory, a negative belief you may tell yourself, along with any related emotions and body sensations. You may also identify a positive belief as a way to regulate the intensity of the negative emotions associated with your memory. Stimulation techniques will then be introduced in these stages by way of eye movements, tapping, or sounds.
- Closure – You may be asked to keep a journal/log throughout the week documenting any feelings, emotions, or thoughts that arise.
- Progress of examination – This last and final stage is where you and your EMDR therapist will evaluate the progress you have made throughout your treatment.
EMDR therapy at Victory Bay Recovery Center
If you are struggling with PTSD, it is easy to turn to drugs and alcohol for relief to ease feelings of frustration or isolation. But things don’t always have to go that route. You have the opportunity to take control of your PTSD and take the necessary steps to lead a fulfilling life. Learn more about how EMDR therapy can improve your quality of life by calling Victory Bay at 855.259.1624.