Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a mental health treatment technique developed in the late 1980s. It involves moving your eyes in particular ways while you recall traumatic memories. EMDR is used to treat trauma or PTSD and has also been used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, depression, phobias, personality disorders, and substance abuse disorders. EMDR has been proven safe and effective, bringing positive results faster than other methods.
How Does EMDR Therapy Work?
EMDR relies on the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, a theory that states that normal and traumatic memories are stored differently. The brain stores memories and networks them to other memories smoothly. During a traumatic event, the brain may create a disconnect between the experience and what is stored in memory. This improper networking does not allow for healthy psychological healing. Other experiences link to the trauma experiences, thus reinforcing them. “Trigger” events may bring back the improperly stored memories long after the actual trauma is over, causing nightmares, flashbacks, or feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, or panic.
During an EMDR session, the therapist guides you to recount the trauma event in specific ways, requesting that you move your eyes in certain patterns while telling the story. The eye movements help you reprocess memories of the event, changing the way it is stored. This helps repair the mental disconnect, normalizing it, and making the related feelings manageable. Once the memory is properly processed, you should be able to remember it without the emotional reactions that characterize post-traumatic stress.
Experts aren’t exactly sure how EMDR works. One theory says that EMDR helps the two sides of the brain to communicate. This “bilateral stimulation” bypasses the area of the brain that processes memories and “refiles” those that have been stored incorrectly — leading to healing.
Why Consider EMDR?
It works and works relatively quickly! Dozens of studies have found that EMDR is effective. It is approved by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and a host of other organizations.
It is effective for people of all ages, even children.
EMDR is low risk and has few negative side effects.
- Resolve Trauma – Reprocessed traumatic memories are properly stored in the brain so that they no longer get triggered in daily life.
- Boost Physical and Mental Health – Working through trauma reduces stress, leading to better overall health, improved focus, and better sleep quality.
- Encourage Communication – Trauma often keeps people isolated mentally and emotionally. EMDR encourages individuals to relate their experiences to a therapist. Opening up to a therapist may provide the confidence needed to communicate with others.
- Reshape Past Events – As events are reviewed with a therapist, individuals will see them from a different angle, reshaping what occurred. The individual gains control over the issues the trauma has created and reduces symptoms.
- Change Reaction to Reason – The control provided by EMDR allows one to react rationally to triggering events, rather than kicking in fight-or-flight instincts.
- Boost Self-Esteem and Mental Strength – The same sense of control helps people by boosting confidence and self-esteem.
- Change Negative Memories Into Positive Thoughts – Once the connection to the traumatic memory is corrected, it can be paired with positive thoughts whenever a trigger appears.
The brain heals and changes in real-time. EMDR allows situations that were formerly grounds for a panic attack to become a chance to move forward with clarity and understanding.
Why Choose Bridges Of Hope ICAN?
Our program is designed to achieve long-term recovery and we are licensed by the State of Indiana Department of Mental Health & Addiction. Additionally, our treatment philosophy is based on a comprehensive and integrated approach to addressing all issues related to substance use and mental health disorders. We leave nothing to guesswork as we utilize therapeutically proven, evidence-based clinical practices. We place superior patient care as our highest priority and offer them all-inclusive treatment services.
Contact us today to learn more.