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Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy emdr Edmonton, Alberta

How Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy) Treats Disturbing Memories

Initially developed for treating post-traumatic stress disorder, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is individualized. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a psychotherapy that involves moving the patient’s eyes in a specific direction while the patient process traumatic memories. EMDR aims to help people heal from trauma or other distressing life experiences. This structured therapy motivates the patient to focus on their trauma memory briefly. Simultaneously, they experience bilateral stimulation, generally eye movements. This has an association with low vividness and trauma memories with emotion.

What is EMDR, and how does it work?

EMDR is a structured, individualized therapy that works to directly focus on the disturbing memory to remove the problematic symptoms.

During the therapy, clinical observations recommend stimulation of accelerated learning procedures by the standardized procedures of EMDR. This incorporates the utilization of eye movements along with different rhythmic forms like left-right stimulation.

The client briefly pays attention to the traumatic memory while experiencing reduced bilateral stimulation (BLS), emotions, and vividness of the problematic memory.

What happens at EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy involves multiple phases to treat the memories of problematic events. The number of sessions and duration vary depending on the level of trauma. At EMDR therapy, the healthcare provider helps you eliminate negative beliefs and positively fill the space.

For what EMDR is effective in treating:

The most common and effective use of EMDR is to treat post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Trauma therapists also take help of this treatment for the following conditions:

  • Anxiety Disorders, including generalized anxiety and panic disorders, social anxiety, and phobia
  • Depression disorders like major and persistent depressive disorders and depression related to the illness
  • Dissociative disorders include amnesia, derealisation disorder, or depersonalization disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), hoarding disorder, and body dysmorphic disorder
  • Personality disorders, including antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and avoidant personality disorder
  • Gender dysphoria is the feeling of having a different gender from the one allocated at birth.
  • Eating disorders like bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder
  • Trauma disorders like PTSD, acute stress disorder, and adjustment disorder

What are the 8 steps of EMDR?

EMDR therapy is an eight-step therapeutic intervention. These steps occur over many sessions, with a single session sometimes using parts of multiple phases. An example of these phases is how step 1 and 2 happens in the early phases, and the later steps from 3 to 8 are part of many future sessions.

For a disturbing memory, it typically takes around three to six sessions. In case of more complicated or long-term traumatic memories, the sessions may increase to eight and sometimes even more. Generally, these sessions last between 60 to 90 minutes. Here is an explanation of the eight phases and how they gradually help eliminate problematic memories from the mind.

Step #1. History and background information Gathering

This is the very first step for any therapeutic intervention session. Your healthcare provider gathers all the information about you and the past essential in determining whether EMDR may help you. The questioning also involves a collection of your disturbing or upsetting memories and events that you want to focus on and set goals for it.

So, this evaluation phase helps your therapist better understand your position in the therapy. It also includes briefly discussing your disturbing events and identifying the potential trauma for address.

Step #2. Preparation and Learning

During this second step, the healthcare provider explains to you the process of EMDR sessions and things that you can expect after the session.

Besides, they will talk about different techniques and how you can improve your focus to feel safer and acquire emotional or psychological stability during the session. This process is called resourcing, and your therapist will also provide you with tools for emotional management.

For instance, your techniques to manage stress might include mindfulness exercises and deep breathing.

Step #3. Assessment

This part is about helping you identify specific memories you want to consider working on during the reprocessing phase. The healthcare provider enables you to detect how trauma affected your feelings and aroused negative beliefs. Simultaneously, the process also invokes positive beliefs, including believing in yourself and the aspiration to move forward.

Since the third step of this treatment is about choosing the specific memory to set a target, it also involves other relevant aspects attached to that particular memory. For instance:

  • Painful emotions
  • Physical sensations
  • Intrusive images or thoughts
  • Distressing or undesirable self-beliefs

Step #4. Desensitization and reprocessing

This step focuses on memory and involves eye movements or other bilateral stimulation. The procedure continues till the client finds the memory no longer distressed.

Step #5. Installation

During this step of the treatment, you will get to install a positive image or self-belief and replace it with the undesirable one you previously identified. Your focus will be on this positive belief through the repetition of BLS.

Step #6. Body scan

Your therapist will ask you to focus on the targeted memory or event and whether it prompts discomfort, sensation, or physical pain. Here you need to feel your negative experiences. As you progress through the sessions, you will likely see a decrease in your negative symptoms.

Step #7. Closure and stabilization

After every session, the therapist will analyze your progress, based on which you will be recommended relaxation techniques and different coping strategies to stabilize yourself. The session will continue until you feel safe and calm down.

Step #8. Re-evaluation and continuing care.

The final step of EMDR therapy is re-evaluation, after which the therapist will start the next session. Your therapist will question you about the distressing memories you addressed in your previous session. If those events still disturb you, they might continue to target them. In addition, they will guide you to explore future experiences and how you can handle them.

 Does EMDR work for Traum &  anxiety?

EMDR is a promising treatment for eliminating anxiety and depression. Research shows that clients receiving the treatment showed complete remission post-EMDR treatment.

After EMDR, there have been improvements in the overall symptoms of depression and other depression-related disturbances during a year-long follow-up.

How long does it take for EMDR to work?

Most people go through EMDR for a few weeks or months, and the recovery period between sessions is less. A professional therapist can guide you better in taking personal care between sessions.

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