EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a type of psychotherapy that uses eye movements and other bilateral stimulation to facilitate the process of healing from trauma-related symptoms. EMDR is a relatively new form of therapy to treat PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). People who have experienced major traumas such as a sexual or physical assault, an accident, the sudden death of a loved one or major illness, can benefit from EMDR. This type of therapy is now also being used to treat:
- Anxiety (such as social anxiety, panic attacks, phobias)
- Pain Management
- Specific phobias
- Eating Disorders
- Self-esteem issues
- Somatic symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems
One of the most exciting things about EMDR is the short timeframe in which people can achieve real change in their symptoms. Prior to the introduction of EMDR it was thought that emotional scarring from significant traumas would take years to heal through traditional psychotherapy. However, the short-term results of EMDR for many people who suffer with mental health concerns are very promising. The premise of this approach is that the brain naturally moves towards healing, in fact we heal from psychological trauma in the same way the physical body responds to a wound or injury. When given the right input, this healing process can be facilitated or unblocked. In essence, an EMDR therapist is trained to activate the mind’s own natural healing processes.
In EMDR therapy there are typically eight different phases. Phase 1 involves taking a history and developing a treatment plan. Phase 2 involves learning ways to cope and developing calming skills to use in between sessions. The latter phases (3 to 6) involve reprocessing the identified trauma that is causing emotional distress. This reprocessing occurs through the use of bilateral visual, auditory or tactile stimulation. Bilateral stimulation is thought to facilitate accessing and processing of emotionally distressing material while simultaneously creating new links or associations in the brain, hence stimulating healing. When the therapist is using visual stimulation they move their finger or light bar back and forth in front of the patients eyes. When using auditory stimulation the therapist may use chimes or other sounds that alternate in each ear. Tactile stimulation is usually in the form of tapping or hand held buzzers.
EMDR has a growing research base and is considered as an effective treatment by many important organizations, including Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Psychiatric Association, and the World Health Organization.
If you or your child are seeking support for any of the above issues please contact Mindwell Psychology and make an appointment.