Inception of EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was designed by Francine Shapiro. Its sole purpose is to alleviate the suffering associated with traumatic memories.

In the year 1987, by some happenstance observed that she could reduce the effects of negative thoughts and memories by moving her eyes side to side. This profound experience laid the foundation for intense study and thorough research. With the help of approximately 70 volunteers, she carried out a detailed investigation. Based on this, she developed a standardized process to achieve the best therapeutic results. 

This was followed by further research and study to lay down the process in a much more detailed format. In the year 1995, she published an extensive text about the eight distinct stages of this psychotherapy. 

Today, because of its compelling results, EMDR is regarded as one of the leading psychotherapy treatments.

How does it work?

EMDR is a form of therapy that works very much in the line of how our body recovers from physical pain. For instance, when you get your knee scraped, your body works towards closing the wound. Once the skin is healed, it leaves the dead skin, which after some time is replaced by a new layer skin. 

EMDR posits that this is precisely how our mental illnesses are cured. If the mental process is disturbed by the impact of a traumatic event, the emotional wound will aggravate and cause deep suffering. So, once we get rid of this disturbing block, the mind can facilitate its healing.

It accesses and processes the traumatic memories, disturbing events, and other painful past experiences and bring them to a resolution. During EMDR therapy, the patient is made to sit through some emotionally disturbing and highly stimulating material in brief sequences and at the same time made to focus on an external stimulus. This external stimulus can, in some cases be, bilateral stimulation of eye movements directed by the EMDR therapist. Sometimes, hand tapping, and audio tapes can also be used as a stimulus. 

With the help of this process, the network of traumatic memories are processed, and new associations are established between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories. These newly formed associations help the patient eliminate emotional pain and negative beliefs associated with traumatic events.

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8-Staged Process of EMDR

EMDR therapy is centered on the past, present, and future. It focuses on the traumatic memories, current situations, and finally helps cultivate the essential attitude for positive reactions. 

Following is the 8-staged process laid out to carry out this operation:

  1. Phase 1: Initially, the therapist develops a proper historical account of the patient and lays down an appropriate treatment plan that is based thoroughly on his/her willingness. The therapist identifies the plausible targets such as traumatic memories or other present situations that trigger emotional imbalance. Based on this, the therapist plans his treatment.
  2. Phase 2: In the 2nd session, the therapist gauges the patient’s ability to handle emotional pain. He will ensure that the patient is taught various imagery and stress reduction techniques that he can make use of during the sessions. This will make sure that the patient maintains a through mental equilibrium during the sessions to guarantee the optimum therapeutic outcome.
  3. Phase 3-6: During these phases, the client is made aware of these things:
    1. The images associated with his traumatic memories
    2. Negative beliefs about himself/herself
    3. Associated mental and physical sensations

After this, the client is made to meditate on the images, negative thoughts, and physical sensations. At the same time, the client is asked to divide his attention and focus on the external EMDR stimulus that can be eye movements, taps, or audiotapes. The types of these stimuli are different for different patients. 

Post each set of stimulation, the patient is asked to sit in silence and focus on whatever thoughts, images, and sensations that arrive in his mind. These sets of stimulation are repeated several times during the sessions. 

Finally, when the patient feels no distress associated with the traumatic memory, s(he) is asked to think of a positive belief that was identified in the beginning. Thereby adjusting his positive mindset, the patient focuses on it in the next sessions.

  1. Phase 7: During this phase, the patient is asked to maintain a regular log documenting his feelings and thoughts related to his trauma that may arise. This keeps track of his progress and reminds him to exercise self-calming activities regularly.
  2. Phase 8: In the closure phase, the patient will be briefed about his progress and made aware of all the historical events, present occurrences, and future incidents associated with his trauma that will require different responses from him. At this moment, he has a profound sense of clarity of his thoughts, feelings, emotions, and physical reactions that they demand.

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Types Of Trauma It Can Cure

Edy Nathan has been practicing psychotherapy for the last 20 years. He is a certified EMDR practitioner. His extensive work experience and the astonishing results make him believe that this therapy can cure distress of any form of trauma. 

She says, “What the technique does is shift the way we process the presence of the physical, emotional, and psychological effects related specifically to a traumatic event.”

EMDR therapy has proven records of healing people from anxiety, PTSD, panic, childhood trauma, intensely traumatic memories, and severe depression. 

EMDR Results

There are around 30 extensive studies made on EMDR therapy. These studies and research shows that close to 84 – 90% of single-trauma patients have entirely overcome post-traumatic stress disorder with the help of just three 90-minute sessions.

Based on other studies conducted by HMO Kaiser Permanente, the results say that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims have been completely healed and no longer have PTSD after six-50 minutes sessions. 

Research also shows that around 77% of combat veterans have been cured of PTSD in 12 EMDR sessions. In the last 25 years, millions of patients have been healed entirely with the help of EMDR therapy.

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