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How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

a medical professional points at EMDR symbol while answering a persons question about how does emdr therapy work

In the journey through life, people often encounter experiences that leave deep emotional scars, affecting their mental health and well-being. If you find yourself grappling with the aftereffects of traumatic experiences, know that you are not alone. Seeking help is a courageous step toward healing and reclaiming your life. One such pathway to recovery is through eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, a proven and effective treatment for trauma and other mental health conditions. But how does EMDR therapy work? Woodland Recovery Center will explore the intricacies of EMDR therapy and how it can be a beacon of hope in your healing journey.

Call us at 662.222.2989 and to learn more about how our EMDR therapy program can help you or a loved one.

What Is EMDR Therapy Used for?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, pioneered by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, stands as a significant advancement in psychotherapy. At its essence, EMDR is crafted to mitigate the distress linked with traumatic memories. Distinct from conventional talk therapies, EMDR pivots on the brain’s innate capacity to process and assimilate traumatic experiences, akin to how our bodies naturally heal physical injuries. So, what is EMDR therapy used for?

The primary application of this therapy approach is in treating individuals who have endured traumatic events and are grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Its effectiveness, however, extends beyond PTSD, proving beneficial in addressing various mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, panic disorders, and substance use disorders. The overarching aim of EMDR therapy is to facilitate individuals in overcoming the symptoms and emotional turmoil stemming from adverse life experiences, thereby enabling a path to psychological healing and stability.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

The mechanism of EMDR therapy is fascinating and distinct from other therapy modalities. The process involves eight phases, focusing on the past, present, and future aspects of a traumatic memory. Here is a breakdown of these phases:

  • History taking and treatment planning – This initial phase involves understanding the client’s history and identifying specific targets for EMDR processing, including past traumas and current triggers.
  • Preparation – The therapist establishes trust and explains the EMDR process, ensuring the client is adequately prepared for treatment.
  • Assessment – The client identifies a vivid visual image related to the memory, a negative belief about themselves, related emotions and body sensations, and a positive belief they’d like to have.
  • Desensitization – This is where the core of EMDR takes place. The therapist guides the client in focusing on the traumatic memory while simultaneously inducing bilateral stimulation (typically through guided eye movements). This process is thought to facilitate the brain’s natural healing process.
  • Installation – The positive belief identified in the assessment phase is strengthened.
  • Body scan – The client is asked to note any residual physical sensations while thinking of the event and the positive belief. If there are negative sensations, these are targeted for reprocessing.
  • Closure – This phase ensures the client leaves the session feeling better than when they arrived. It involves grounding and calming techniques.
  • Reevaluation – At the beginning of the next session, the therapist checks on the client’s progress and decides the direction of the therapy.

The bilateral stimulation in EMDR, often through eye movements, is believed to mimic the psychological state that we enter during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This state is associated with processing and integrating memories and emotions. By activating this state while concentrating on traumatic memories, EMDR therapy helps in reprocessing the memory in a way that reduces its emotional impact.

How Long Does EMDR Therapy Last?

So, how long does EMDR therapy last? The duration of EMDR therapy can vary depending on the individual and the complexity of their issues. Typically, a single session of EMDR therapy lasts between 60 to 90 minutes. The total number of sessions needed can range from just a few to several dozen. At Woodland Recovery Center, our therapists work closely with each client to determine the best course and duration of treatment for their specific needs.

Reach Out to Our EMDR Therapy for Trauma Program at Woodland Recovery Center

If you are wondering, “How Does EMDR therapy work?” or if you are struggling with the aftermath of traumatic experiences, our EMDR therapy for trauma program at Woodland Recovery Center can provide the support and guidance you need to heal. Woodland Recovery Center is dedicated to providing compassionate and effective care. Our EMDR therapy for trauma program is designed to help individuals overcome the challenges of mental health issues in a safe and supportive environment. Our team of experienced therapists is committed to helping you heal and regain control of your life.

If you or someone you know could benefit from EMDR therapy, we encourage you to call us at 662.222.2989 or contact us online to learn more about our treatment options.