EMDR therapy

Many people who suffer from anxiety disorders, panic attacks and other symptoms are finding relief through a new form of short term therapy. EMDR therapy, or Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, is a relatively new form of therapy which has enabled patients to finally recover from past trauma, phobias and more. It has even proven effective with help for those with chronic pain symptoms, stress and depression.

This innovative psychotherapy technique combines a dual stimulation process where the person recalls past traumatic events or even present triggers of anxiety along with focusing on external stimuli at the same time. Along with this tactic, known as reprocessing, the therapist will also introduce new skills and behaviors that will enable the patient to better deal with various issues in the future.

There are 8 stages, or phases, of EMDR therapy that must be followed for maximum benefit. Many of these phases take very little time, so it is a much more rapid treatment than most psychotherapeutic methods. The basic idea is to figure out what past experiences have contributed to the current mind state of the patient, what situations induce negative emotions and beliefs now and then giving the patient the ability to work through these experiences and learn behaviors that will enhance their mental health and outlook.

Phase one of the treatment plan begins with getting a detailed history from the patient, as well as any medical treatments or issues in their background. During this phase, the therapist will work with the patient to identify what past events are continuing to cause trauma as well as exactly what symptoms arise from that trauma. The pair will also identify the skills the patient will need in order to minimize the negative effects from the past trauma and beliefs.

The second phase of treatment is to teach the patient any coping skills lacking and the methods that will enable them to handle stress in a more positive manner. They will also work on stress reducing techniques so the patient will have the necessary tools to get through the therapy. If all is successful, these tools should not be needed once therapy is complete.

With the next three phases of EMDR therapy, the focus is on identifying a sharp image related to the traumatic memory and any negative beliefs stemming from that memory. The therapist will help the patient find a positive belief to replace the negative ones.

Once the targets are identified, the therapist will help the patient to reprocess those negatives in order to strengthen the positive beliefs and weaken or eliminate the negative ones. During this process, the patient will be told to follow the therapist’s fingers back and forth while focusing on the negative image within their mind. Occasionally the therapist may use tapping or sounds to have the person focus instead of the eye movements. Sometimes these two tactics may be alternating, depending on the strength of the negative image.

Once the patient has made satisfactory progress in replacing the negative image and belief with the positive ones, the therapist will move on to the seventh phase of treatment. During this phase, the patient will be asked to keep a journal for the next week and to write down anything that may come up through the week to trigger the negative images and for them to record the skills they used to combat this.

At phase eight, the therapist and patient will evaluate the effectiveness of the previous phases. Success would be that the patient reports no further distress caused by the negative events of the past or that the symptoms were greatly reduced.

Last updated on Oct 27th, 2009 and filed under Mental Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed