What Is EMDR Therapy?
Psychologist Francine Shapiro, PhD, first developed EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) for the remedy of post-traumatic stress dysfunction in 1987. Thirty-five years later, EMDR remedy has turn into increasingly mainstream—and is used not just for the remedy of PTSD but additionally to alleviate numerous psychological well being situations.
A Q&A with Luz Kyncl, LCSW
Theoretically, it really works like this: Similar to our physique, our thoughts is designed to heal itself naturally. The therapeutic mechanisms principally happen whereas we’re sleeping, significantly throughout REM (fast eye motion) sleep, the place emotional processing and reminiscence consolidation happens.
But when an occasion is just too overwhelming or traumatic for a person to course of, like repeated misery as a consequence of childhood abuse or neglect, the processing throughout sleep is just not sufficient, and the reminiscence stays unprocessed.
Unprocessed reminiscences are saved within the emotional reminiscence a part of the mind—the limbic system—as an alternative of within the cortex, the place reminiscences are saved utilizing language. When saved within the limbic system, reminiscences might be simply triggered, inflicting the individual to repeatedly activate the emotional stress and the adverse beliefs which can be related to the reminiscence.
For instance, if somebody has an unlucky historical past of childhood abuse, they might have disturbing reminiscences of the abuse and repressed beliefs it created, like “I’m powerless” and “I’m unlovable.” As an grownup, once they hear somebody increase their voice, it may well set off an emotional response related to the reminiscences and beliefs that they’re powerless and unlovable. And they’re prone to act in a means that displays that perception.
EMDR remedy makes use of eye actions, like these throughout REM sleep, to assist launch an emotional reminiscence from the limbic system so it may be saved within the language heart of the mind, the place it may well turn into extra like a impartial reminiscence of an occasion prior to now. And it creates optimistic beliefs to affiliate with the reminiscence. After EMDR remedy, the reminiscence continues to be current, however it’s much less distressing and saved as impartial reminiscence of an occasion prior to now.
EMDR remedy is carried out in eight levels:
Preparation: The consumer and therapist set up an alliance and set expectations for what’s to return within the session. After the EMDR course of is completely defined, the consumer’s issues and questions are addressed and coping methods are created to assist the consumer handle emotional stress that may come up in the course of the remedy.
Assessment: During this part, the unprocessed reminiscence is recognized and re-created utilizing photographs, emotions, sensations, and beliefs. To assess the effectiveness of the remedy, baseline measurements of the unprocessed reminiscence are taken utilizing subjective items of misery (SUD) and validity of cognition (VOC).
SUD is a scale of 0 to 10 that measures the depth of misery skilled by the consumer. It is used to guage the emotional depth earlier than and after the remedy.
VOC is used to measure the underlying beliefs related to the reminiscence. VOC is a scale of 1 to seven, one indicating that the idea is totally unbelievable and 7 representing that it’s solely plausible.
Desensitization: The eye motion course of begins at this part because the consumer focuses on the back-and-forth actions of the therapist’s fingers (or one other object of selection) whereas they consider the traumatic reminiscence. SUD is measured throughout this course of to evaluate how the remedy is progressing. This course of continues till the SUD decreases to zero (or one when acceptable) and new ideas, photographs, emotions, and sensations emerge.
Installation: A optimistic perception, which the consumer chooses, is linked with the focused reminiscence and bolstered till it feels utterly true to the consumer.
Body scan: This part reveals any lingering misery. While pondering of each the reminiscence and the newly created optimistic perception, the consumer observes sensations within the physique from head to toe. If any pressure is felt, this means extra processing of the reminiscence must happen, and the desensitization part is repeated.
Closure: Before ending the session, the therapist helps the consumer attain a state of calm and recalibrate to the current second. Reprocessing is full when the consumer has impartial emotions towards the reminiscence, which implies SUD is zero; the newly created optimistic perception feels utterly true to the consumer (or their VOC is seven); and the physique is obvious of misery related to the precise reminiscence.
Reevaluation: Each further session begins with an analysis of the not too long ago processed reminiscence to find out whether or not the misery stays low and the optimistic perception related to the reminiscence continues to be sturdy.
It’s been successfully used to treat:
- Anxiety and panic assaults
- Chronic sickness and medical points
- Depression and bipolar issues
- Pain (together with phantom limb ache)
- Performance anxiousness
- Sleep disturbances
- Feelings of worthlessness and low shallowness
- Trauma ensuing from sexual assault, violence, and abuse
- PTSD and CPTSD
- Eating issues