The remarkable power of memory is often underestimated. Thinking about positive memories can be relaxing and fill you with joy. Similarly, dwelling on negative memories can stir up distressing emotions that lead to depression and anxiety. Generally, good or bad, these emotions fade. So what happens if the negative feelings stay? What can you do when the emotions tied to a painful memory keep getting worse? If this is something you can relate to, consider seeking out EMDR treatment.
What is EMDR Treatment?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a specialized form of psychotherapy used to reduce negative feelings caused by memories linked to a traumatic event. First discovered in the late 1980’s, this groundbreaking method is now utilized by specially trained EMDR therapists throughout the world.
Though the reason why EMDR therapy is effective isn’t fully understood, the guiding principle behind its applications is. The Adaptive Information Processing Model, or AIP, which explains that problems arise when an experience is inadequately processed they become frozen in time which can lead to maladaptive responses. Positive change happens when tehse memories are processed and adaptive emotions are added to the neural network. The AIP model was developed after observing people in various states of mental health and is used along with bilateral stimulation to substitute negative beliefs and feelings with positive replacements.
How Does EMDR Work?
The brain is designed to handle adversity, but some experiences prevent it from doing so efficiently. Acting like a thorn, certain experiences impact the brain’s natural processing ability, causing psychological symptoms to develop.
An EMDR therapist helps “desensitize” the brain by accessing both its left and right side to process a memory efficiently. This is done using techniques such as tapping, vibrations, motions, or sounds that alternate bilaterally.
Similar to REM sleep, this is what is known as the eye-movement process. While performing those techniques, EMDR therapists will ask you questions and guide you through the memory.
Who Can EMDR Benefit?
EMDR treatment is a nontraditional method now offered by many psychologists, therapists, and other mental health experts. It’s especially useful for people looking to overcome the devastating effects of ongoing psychological trauma.
This makes EMDR therapy a uniquely suited solution for PTSD treatment, grief counseling, trauma therapy, abuse, and other negative experiences. It is also applied to treat symptoms related to a range mental health disorders (such as schizophrenia, phobias, and eating disorders) and used to supplement other treatment for anxiety and depression.
The Phases of EMDR Therapy
Trauma has the ability to negatively impact most aspects of life. The goal of EMDR treatment is to replace negative emotions with positive feelings in order to handle stressful situations without feeling overwhelmed.
- Client History and Treatment Planning
- Preparation (establish trust and fully explain the process)
- Assessment (establish negative beliefs and determine positive replacements)
- Desensitization (the bilateral motion or eye movement technique)
- Installation (strengthen the placement of the positive replacements)
- Body Scan (used to test your ability to think about the experience and determine if the negative emotions are still present)
- Closure (destressing to safely end the session)
- Reevaluation (establish your progress before beginning another session, if necessary)
For more information, read EMDR Therapists Offer an Alternative Treatment.
To request an appointment with a Certified EMDR therapist in Boca Raton, contact Morgan Center for Counseling and Wellbeing.