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Within the last decade, there has been a new form of psychotherapy called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and re-processing) therapy that has gained popularity in the medical field. This new type of therapy has gained not only popularity but also traction for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

EMDR therapy has been linked to helping those who experienced physical or sexual assault, those who served in the military, or someone who was in a car accident. This technique uses the patient’s rapid and rhythmic eye movements with the help of a therapist. It’s shown that the movements can help decrease the power of memories that may be emotionally charged as well as previous traumatic events.

Goals of EMDR Therapy

While EMDR therapy can focus on previous traumas, some of the main goals and focuses include working to change the thoughts, behaviors, or emotions that occurred during the trauma. It can also allow your brain to go through a natural healing process.

This type of therapy can help a wide range of mental and physical disorders and traumas, including:

  • Depression disorders including major, persistent, and/or illness-related depression.
  • Anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, phobias, social, anxiety, or generalized anxiety.
  • Dissociative disorders such as amnesia or dissociative identity disorder.
  • Post-traumatic-stress disorder.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders such as hoarding, body dysmorphia, or generalized OCD.
  • Eating disorders, including anorexia, binge, eating, or bulimia.

EMDR therapy process

When participating in EMDR therapy, the patient will go through eight phases that generally occur over multiple sessions.

Phase 1

The first step is to gather the patient’s history and all other relevant information. This allows the healthcare provider to determine if EMDR therapy could help you. It will also discuss the events and traumas you want to focus on during your therapy sessions.

Phase 2

Step two is the education and preparation step. The therapist or healthcare provider will explain what you can anticipate during the sessions.

Phase 3

You’ll then move on to the assessment. Your healthcare provider will help you determine the memories and themes you’re looking to focus on.

Phase 4

The fourth step is desensitization and reprocessing. During this step, your healthcare provider will activate the memory you want to focus on. By doing this, you will be able to identify one or more negative thoughts, body, sensations, feelings, or even images. Additionally, you will be able to help realize how you’re feeling in a new way that could show you new opinions you have on what you’re currently experiencing.

Phase 5

Up next is the installation step. This step focuses on strengthening the positive beliefs that you identified previously.

Phase 6

Step six is the body scan. During this step, you will focus on how you’re feeling in your body. This could include any symptoms or reactions to your feelings as you think about your negative memories and experiences.

Phase 7

Next, you will focus on closure and stabilization. This will be when you discuss with your therapist what you can expect between sessions. They will also explain how to handle and process negative thoughts you may have between sessions.

Phase 8

Finally, you will be at the reevaluation and continuing care. You will talk to your healthcare provider about how you’re currently feeling and the progress you’ve made to determine if additional sessions are needed. You will also learn how to explore feelings you have in the future and how to handle things when they occur. If you are interested in learning more about EMDR therapy and how it can help you heal from the past, don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more.