For those who are new to the concept, EMDR therapy is a type of treatment that helps people heal from trauma – it stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing. EMDR therapy can help people who have experienced a wide range of traumas, including natural disasters, car accidents, military combat, abuse, and more. It can also be an effective treatment for PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
How EMDR Therapy Works
EMDR therapy is based on the idea that our brains are designed to heal from trauma. When we experience a traumatic event, our brains can get “stuck” in the negative emotions associated with the event. EMDR therapy helps to “unstick” these emotions and allow the brain to process the trauma in a healthy way.
In regards to how the treatment is delivered, EMDR therapy is performed by a trained therapist, who will guide you through each step of the process.
- The first step is to identify a specific traumatic event that you want to work on in therapy.
- The next step is to talk about the emotions and physical sensations that you experience when you think about the event.
- After that, you and your therapist will work together to identify positive statements about yourself (e.g., “I am safe” or “I am capable”). These positive statements will be used during the next phase of EMDR therapy, which is called bilateral stimulation.
In bilateral stimulation, you will use your eyes to follow the therapist’s hand as it moves back-and-forth in front of your face. You may also use headphones and listen to sounds that alternate between ears. As you do this, you will focus on the positive statements about yourself, and the idea is that the bilateral stimulation will help to “unstick” the negative emotions associated with the trauma so that they can be processed in a healthy way.
Is EMDR Therapy an Effective Form of Treatment?
A 2019 study published in the journal Progress in Brain Research found that EMDR therapy was an effective treatment for trauma and PTSD. The study looked at a group of patients who had experienced trauma and found that those who received EMDR therapy had reduced symptoms of PTSD compared to those who did not receive EMDR therapy.
Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology the year before revealed that EMDR therapy was an effective treatment for anxiety. In 2017, a study was published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, after research concluded that EMDR therapy was an effective treatment for depression.
Is EMDR therapy right for you?
If you have experienced a traumatic event (either recently or a long time ago) and you’re struggling to cope with it, EMDR therapy may be a good option for you. The first step is to speak with your doctor or a mental health professional to see if EMDR therapy might be an appropriate avenue for you.