What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of psychotherapy that is used to treat the negative emotions and beliefs that are associated with the memory of trauma. It is an evidence-based best practice in the treatment of PTSD. It generally involves having the therapist use a hand motion to engage your eye in a pattern of movement while you are simultaneously recalling the traumatic event. You can get a deeper understanding of how EMDR works by watching this short video created by the EMDR International Association.
What to expect in an EMDR session?
The most important thing to know about EMDR is that it is a therapeutic approach, not just a technique. This means that an EMDR therapist will guide you through a full treatment protocol which may occur over several sessions. Engaging in the eye movement is one part of the EMDR treatment protocol; however, sound, tapping and vibration also be utilized during sessions.
It is possible to find relief from your symptoms in just a couple of sessions but if your history is more complex, and includes childhood trauma, it may take more time to work through your triggers and memories.
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Can EMDR be offered virtually?
Yes, EMDR therapy is offered virtually and can be as effective as in-person sessions. You and your EMDR therapist will determine if virtual EMDR sessions will work well for your needs. There are many online programs that can be used to stimulate eye movements and sound or you may be guided to perform self-taping on your body (most often tapping on your arms or legs).
An important consideration when determining if virtual EMDR services are appropriate for you is knowing that you have a safe, private space for your session and available support or resources you can easily access, if needed.
What is EMDR used to treat?
When EMDR was initially discovered by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, it was being used to treat PTSD symptoms in war veterans. It is an evidence based treatment and is considered a best practice in the treatment of PTSD by the World Health Organization. As the approach has continued to evolve with further studies and research, EMDR is now used to treat a wide variety of conditions including anxiety, depression, panic and addiction.
What are the Benefits of EMDR Therapy?
There are many reasons why EMDR therapy is becoming a highly sought after treatment for PTSD and other mental health conditions.
EMDR is a structured process and therefore provides some predictability in knowing what to expect from session to session. EMDR therapists are trained to use standardized protocols to guide the healing process. You and your EMDR therapist will collaborate on creating a treatment plan and your sessions will generally follow in the sequence of memories you identify together.
It is not necessary to talk about the trauma in detail. EMDR involves the activation of neural networks in your brain that hold the memories. Healing comes from the process of observing your thoughts and experiences associated with the memory while being guided by your EMDR therapist.
EMDR can produce relief from your symptoms in just a few sessions while others may require a more comprehensive treatment. EMDR can have a generalizing effect and does not require you to work through every traumatic memory that you have experienced.