Anxiety Therapists in Charlotte NC

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a proven form of therapy that has been heavily researched and is an effective psychotherapy method to aid in the recovery from trauma, anxiety, depression, and most notably PTSD. EMDR incorporates elements from several therapeutic approaches. Many associations and studies recognize EMDR as a very effective approach to treatment.

In the 1980s, Francine Shapiro, Ph.D, found a connection between eye movement and disturbing memories that would not subside. She then began her studies and development of EMDR Therapy. 

More recently, celebrities such as Sandra Bullock and Prince Harry have come forward to reveal their successes with EMDR therapy

How does EMDR work?

EMDR has a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. With some individuals, some moments or events become “stuck” in the mind, causing a reexperience of the trauma, including the sounds, smells, and images. These recurrences can happen over and over again, affecting how the person sees the world and the people and places around them.

All humans have an instinctive, “fight or flight” response to traumatic events and/or stressful situations, afterwich the brain processes, defines, and stores as memories. Sometimes, however, the things which a person has seen, heard, or experienced do not go through that process, and seem to repeat themselves as if the person were reliving the event in real time. This break in process can be the cause of mental health related issues such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression. 

With EMDR, these memories which have been stored as trauma experiences will be reprocessed so that the memory will remain, but the person will be able to recall the event at will without reliving it.

This reprocessing is done using a technique called Bilateral Stimulation. Bilateral Stimulation repeatedly activates both hemispheres of the brain. Therapists often use eye movements to promote bilateral stimulation. These eye movements mimic the period of sleep referred to as rapid eye movement or REM sleep, as this portion of sleep is frequently considered to be the time when the mind processes the recent events in the person’s life.

EMDR seems to help the brain reprocess the trapped memories in such a way that normal information processing is resumed. Therapists often use EMDR to help clients uncover and process beliefs that developed as the result of relational traumas or childhood abuse and/or neglect. For a more detailed explanation please visit  EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) or EMDR Institute, Inc. There are eight phases of EMDR.

What are the 8 phases of EMDR?

  • History / Identification
    • During this initial phase of EMDR, your therapist will do a full history assessment and work with you to identify targets and come up with a plan of treatment.
  • Client preparation
    • This phase involves the therapist explaining the process of EMDR, and may also use this phase to practice some of the exercises that will be used during the treatment.
  • Assessment
    • In this phase of EMDR, the Target Event (the event that triggers the negative images / flashbacks), is identified. This identification includes the event itself as well as the feelings and thoughts that come along with it.
  • Desensitization
    • Desensitization involves the therapist having the client focus on the target memory while beginning the eye movements or other exercises. The desensitization phase is repeated until the target event no longer causes adverse effects.
  • Installation
    • This phase of the process begins once the desensitization phase has been completed. During this phase, new, positive thoughts and feelings are associated with the target event.
  • Body scan
    • During the body scan phase, the therapist will ask the client to recall the target event and to note any type of physical responses 
  • Closure
    • Each session of EMDR ends with Closure. Your therapist will safely return the client to a calm demeanor until the next session.
  • Reevaluation of treatment effect
    • After reprocessing comes Reevaluation. During reevaluation, both parties discuss the reprocessed target memory and any new memories that may have surfaced in the process. This phase is also used to determine what the next target memory to reprocess will be.

What Can EMDR Help With?

EMDR is endorsed by many organizations, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as one of the best treatments PTSD, although it’s been proven useful for treatment for a number of conditions including the following:

How Long Does it Take EMDR to Work?

It is often helpful to have one or two sessions with the individual to fully understand the nature of their problem to determine if EMDR therapy will be an appropriate treatment. During these sessions, the therapist will answer any questions the prospective patient may have about EMDR. Once the therapist and individual agree EMDR is the right way to go, actual therapy may begin.

Sessions typically last between 60 and 90 minutes. How many sessions will be required will be based on the type of problem, personal circumstances and the degree of the trauma. EMDR may be used within a standard “talking” therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment all by itself.

If you are experiencing distressing emotions that appear to you, and perhaps to others, to be excessive given the current situation? Do you tend to be highly reactive to certain triggers? Are there dysfunctional beliefs that you have about yourself that on an intellectual level you know are not true?

If so, you may still be a good candidate for EMDR therapy.

We encourage you to contact Montgomery Counseling Group today for a free phone consultation to see if we can help get you back to feeling like yourself again. It Gets Better!