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Define EMDR

Written by Onaolapo Adeyemi. Posted in EMDR

What-is-EMDR?

How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR Therapy for PTSD

What Are the Risks? – EMDR Side Effects

What is EMDR?

EMDR_therapy

Photo Credit – http://brainworldmagazine.com/how-emdr-therapy-opens-a-window-to-the-brain/

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new, nontraditional type of psychotherapy. It’s growing in popularity, particularly for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD often occurs after experiences such as military combat, physical assault, rape, or car accidents.

Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., an American psychologist, developed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy as a breakthrough therapy with the special capacity to overcome the often devastating effects of psychological trauma in the late 1980s. An ever-growing community of therapists soon saw directly its power to transform lives. At the same time, controlled research studies consistently demonstrated its efficacy and effectiveness. For many therapists who took up this therapy, EMDR felt like a “gift” to themselves and their clients, and they were eager to “pay it forward” by spreading the word to colleagues.

Therapist directed lateral eye movements are the most commonly used external stimulus but a variety of other stimuli including hand-tapping and audio stimulation is often used (Shapiro, 1991). Shapiro (1995, 2001) hypothesizes that EMDR therapy facilitates the accessing of the traumatic memory network, so that information processing is enhanced, with new associations forged between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories or information. These new associations are thought to result in complete information processing, new learning, elimination of emotional distress, and development of cognitive insights.



How Does EMDR Work?

In a study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR therapy would be effective in treating the “every day” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy.  Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years.  

EMDR therapy combines different elements to maximize treatment effects. A full description of the theory, sequence of treatment, and research on protocols and active mechanisms can be found in F. Shapiro (2001) Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures, 2nd Edition

There are 8 phases involved.  You can read more about EMDR Principles and the phases here.

EMDR Therapy for PTSD

EMDR is a psychotherapy for PTSD. EMDR can help you process upsetting memories, thoughts, and feelings related to the trauma. By processing these experiences, you can get relief from PTSD symptoms.

After trauma, people with PTSD often have trouble making sense of what happened to them. EMDR helps you process the trauma, which can allow you to start to heal. In EMDR, you will pay attention to a back-and-forth movement or sound while you think about the upsetting memory long enough for it to become less distressing. Although EMDR is an effective treatment for PTSD, there is disagreement about it works.

Some research shows that the back and forth movement is an important part of treatment, but other research shows the opposite.

During the first stage, you will learn about physical and emotional reactions to trauma. You and your provider will discuss how ready you are to focus on your trauma memories in therapy. To prepare, you will learn some new coping skills. Next, you will identify the “target”, or the upsetting memory you want to focus on–including any negative thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations related to the memory.

You will hold the memory in your mind while also paying attention to a back-and-forth movement or sound (like your provider’s moving finger, a flashing light, or a tone that beeps in one ear at a time) until your distress goes down. This will last for about 30 seconds at a time, and then you will talk about what the exercise was like for you. Eventually, you will focus on a positive belief and feeling while you hold the memory in your mind. Towards the end of treatment, your provider will re-assess your symptoms to see if you need to process other targets.

What Are the Risks? – EMDR Side Effects

You may feel uncomfortable when focusing on trauma-related memories or beliefs. These feelings are usually brief and people tend to feel better as they keep doing EMDR.

  • Most people who complete EMDR find that the benefits outweigh any initial discomfort.
  • EMDR is an individual therapy. You will meet one-to-one with your provider for each session.
  • In most cases, you will not be asked to talk about the details of your trauma out loud. But you will be asked to think about your trauma in session.

EMDR does not require you to complete homework or practice assignments between sessions.

About 1-3 months of weekly 50-90 minute sessions. But, many people start to notice improvement after a few sessions. And the benefits of EMDR can last long after your final session with your provider.

 

EMDR Therapy

Written by Onaolapo Adeyemi. Posted in EMDR

EMDR therapy involves focusing on three periods of time: yesteryear, present, and future.  The focus is offered to past disturbing memories and related events. Also, it’s given to current situations that induce distress, and to developing the relevant skills and attitudes necessary for positive future actions. With EMDR therapy, these items are addressed having an eight-phase treatment approach.

Phase 1: The first phase can be a history-taking session(s). The therapist assesses the client’s readiness and develops a therapy plan. Client and therapist identify possible targets for EMDR processing. These include distressing memories and current situations that cause emotional distress. Other targets might include related incidents previously. Emphasis is positioned about the progression of specific skills and behaviors that will be needed by the client later on situations.

Initial EMDR processing could be given to childhood events rather than to adult onset stressors or the identified critical incident in the event the client had a problematic childhood. Clients generally gain insight on their situations, the emotional distress resolves and they learn to change their behaviors. The length of treatment depends on upon a number of traumas and the age of PTSD onset. Generally, individuals with single event adult onset trauma could be successfully treated in less than 5 hours. Multiple trauma victims might require a lengthier treatment time.

 

EMDR_Therapy

EMDR Therapy

Phase 2: During the next phase of treatment, the therapist helps to ensure that the customer has lots of different ways of handling emotional distress. The therapist may teach the client a variety of imagery and stress reduction techniques the customer may use during and between sessions. An objective of EMDR treatment therapy is to make a rapid and effective change while the client maintains equilibrium during and between sessions.

 

Phases 3-6: In phases 3 to 6, a target is identified and processed using EMDR therapy procedures. These involve the customer identifying three things:
1. The vivid visual image associated with the memory
2. A negative belief about self
3. Related emotions and the entire body sensations.

Furthermore, your client identifies a good belief. The therapist helps the customer rate the positive belief along with the power of the negative emotions. Next, the client is made to target the image, negative thought, and the entire body sensations while simultaneously engaging in EMDR processing using sets of bilateral stimulation. These sets might include eye movements, taps, or tones. The type and period of these sets differ for each and every client. At this time, the EMDR client is expected to just notice whatever spontaneously happens.

After each pair of stimulation, the clinician instructs your client to permit his/her mind to go blank and to notice whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation one thinks of. Depending upon the client’s report, the clinician will select the next focus of attention. These repeated sets with directed focused attention occur numerous times throughout the session. If the client becomes distressed or has difficulty in progressing, the therapist follows established procedures to assist the client in getting back on track.

If the client reports no distress related to the targeted memory, (s)he could be required to think of the preferred positive thought was identified at the beginning of the session. At this time, your client may adjust the positive belief if needed, after which focus on it throughout the next set of distressing events.

Phase 7: In phase seven, closure, the therapist asks the customer to keep a log during the week. The log should document any related material which could arise. It serves to remind the client of the self-calming activities that were mastered in phase two.

Phase 8: The next session begins with phase eight. Phase eight consists of examining the progress made to date. The EMDR treatment processes all related historical events, current incidents that elicit distress, and future events that will need different responses

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