If you’re struggling with trauma, anxiety, or depression, know that help is available. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a unique form of therapy that is gaining popularity as a highly effective way to treat these conditions and others. If you’re unfamiliar with EMDR therapy, it’s normal to have questions about what exactly it entails, how it works, and whether it might be right for you. Learning more about the process of EMDR therapy can help you make an informed decision about whether it’s the right treatment option for you.
What Is EMDR Therapy?
Essentially, EMDR therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals process traumatic memories, experiences, and emotions. EMDR therapy was created in 1987 by a psychologist named Francine Shapiro, who noticed that certain eye movements helped her reduce the intensity of her negative emotions. Today, EMDR therapy is recognized by organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) as an evidence-based treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related conditions.
What Can EMDR Therapy Treat?
EMDR therapy has been found to be highly effective in treating trauma-related conditions such as PTSD, phobias, and anxiety. It has also been used to treat depression, grief, addiction, and other mental health concerns. Additionally, EMDR therapy can be helpful for individuals who have experienced emotional or physical abuse or neglect. The goal of EMDR therapy is to help individuals process negative emotions and memories in a safe, controlled environment so they can move forward and ultimately achieve their therapeutic goals.
How Does EMDR Therapy Work?
EMDR therapy involves several phases of treatment, and each phase has its own set of goals. These include:
- History taking and treatment planning – During the first phase, your therapist will assess your history and discuss your treatment goals.
- Preparation – During the second phase, your therapist will teach you techniques to cope with difficult emotions if they arise during the EMDR therapy process.
- Assessment – The third phase involves identifying memories or events that need to be processed.
- Desensitization – In this phase, your therapist will use eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation to help you process the events or memories from earlier in the session.
- Installation – This is the fifth phase of EMDR therapy and involves helping you process the new positive feelings that were created during desensitization.
- Body scan – This is the final phase of EMDR therapy and involves your therapist helping you assess your body for any lingering physical sensations associated with the traumatic memories.
Every EMDR therapy session is tailored to the individual, and the process may vary depending on your unique needs.
What to Expect in EMDR Therapy Sessions
EMDR therapy sessions can last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the patient’s needs and progress. During the actual EMDR therapy portion of the session, the patient will be asked to focus on a specific memory or thought while simultaneously experiencing a form of stimulation, such as eye movements. This process can feel intense, and it’s common for patients to experience strong emotions during therapy. However, your therapist will be there to guide you through the process and help you cope with any challenging emotions or memories that arise. The number of sessions required will depend on the individual’s goals and therapeutic needs.
How to Get Started with EMDR Therapy at Peer Mental Wellness
If you’re considering EMDR therapy, Peer Mental Wellness can help. Our outpatient mental health treatment programs include EMDR therapy as part of our comprehensive approach, which also includes individual and group therapy, medication management, and more.