Updated: Mar 28
Why do people rush to the ER when they experience physical pain, but feel treating trauma differently is okay?
Multiple trauma victims try to ignore post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
Now, why would you let psychological trauma and scars define and control your life?
You don’t have to live for years with traumatic memories when you can get the help you deserve to kickstart your healing journey.
Through EMDR Therapy, you can process the events that brought significant trauma faster than talk therapy.
How does EMDR work? Are there any effects you should be worried about? We have all the answers for you.
Let's first talk about the eight phases of EMDR then dive into the reasons why we focus on it. ( you SHOULD too!)
The Eight Phases of EMDR
Post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related symptoms cannot be treated in one day.
And EMDR is no different. EMDR treatment processes take some time as it is an eight-phase treatment program.
Phase 1: History Taking
Like any other therapy, the first phase of EMDR involves working with your therapist. You work together to develop a treatment plan and goals. Therefore the therapist must understand your history and what triggers you.
Phase 2: Preparation
The next phase is for you to understand how EMDR works. If you have any questions or doubts, this is the best chance to ask.
Are you expecting rapid and effective change? Sadly you may be disappointed. That is why your therapist prepares you to develop coping mechanisms to deal with the symptoms of the treatment program.
Phase 3: Assessing The Target Memory
Now that the therapist has your history, the treatment process can begin. The therapist assesses the target memory causing the emotional distress you are going through. Here are the essential things you should identify:
A picture or scene that is the best description of the traumatic event you want to treat
The negative belief you associate with the traumatic event
The perfect positive belief you can attach to the event
Apart from the above points, it is essential to tell your therapist about the parts you feel physical sensations when you recall the event.
Phase 4: Desensitization
At this phase, you are supposed to focus on the traumatic event, the emotions, sensations that come up as the therapist moves their finger back and forth, and you follow it.
You are required to note your reactions, insights, and emotions you experience. Once you complete a set of rapid eye movements, your therapist will assess your level of disturbance.
The desensitization phase is complete when your disturbance levels drop to 0.
Phase 5: Installation
Remember the positive belief you chose to attach to your trauma? Here is where you install it!
Replace all the negative parts with new positive ones as you continue following your therapist's finger.
Once you fully “install” the new beliefs, the phase is complete like any other installation process.
One unique thing about EMDR is that clients generally gain insight and view the traumatic event in a different light.
Phase 6: Body Scan
You have instilled new positive feelings, and you are a new inner you. But wait, do you have any lingering sensations. That is why phase 6 exists.
Your therapist asks you to recall the original target and observes you for any discomfort or tension. If there are any, the therapist introduces bilateral stimulations. You cannot move to the next phase until you can talk or recall the traumatic event without your body tensing.
Phase 7: Closure
As long as you feel better after a therapy session, we can consider it a success. However, if you have not fully worked on an event by the end of a session, the therapist helps you relax and bring your body to emotional equilibrium.
It is also at the closure phase where your therapist helps you prepare for what you may experience as you dig deeper into your trauma.
Healing takes time, so the therapist will also advise you on coping, such as journaling about your negative feelings.
Phase 8: Re-evaluation
Before beginning a new session, it is crucial to evaluate your progress. The therapist checks how far you have come and how long you have maintained the positive beliefs.
It is also crucial to track your healing and any new developments. That is why the therapist goes through the goals you set at the beginning of the session. If you pass the old targets, you can move to new ones. But if not, you need to go back and repeat until you can relieve your trauma without breaking down or tensing.
5 Reasons Why You Need EMDR Therapy
It Addresses the Past Present and Future Traumas
Whether you have a vivid image related to the traumatic event or not, EMDR therapy can boost your healing journey. Even if you know you suffered a traumatic event or post-traumatic stress disorder is wreaking havoc in your life, EMDR can help you.
That is why you don’t have to be stuck feeling weak and helpless due to the claws of trauma. Talk and be ready to explore EMDR for fast and efficient results.
Apart from dealing with the trauma you have already endured, EMDR therapy helps you identify positive beliefs. The preferred positive belief you identify will help you if you experience trauma.
Changes Memory Storage
As we mentioned above, THE BEST part of eye movement desensitization reprocessing and reprocessing is it allows you to remember a painful event. But you will not be overwhelmed by emotions that cloud your judgment or cause you pain.
Natural healing processes take place because the brain is naturally inclined to healing. However, when it comes to traumatic experiences, your brain may try to alter the emotions surrounding the event or bury them deep within your memory.
Sadly instead of healing, this results in the trauma living in you and rearing its ugly head when you least expect it.
Through EMDR, the eight-phase treatment approach, you learn to focus on the targeted memory without fueling the negative emotions.
The therapist directs you to focus on the target traumatic memory. While you engage in forms of bilateral stimulation such as light movement, toe-tapping, finger movements or musical tones. As you focus on recalling the memory and moving your eyes to and from makes the memory less vivid.
That is what makes EMDR Therapy helpful to victims of childhood trauma because of the adaptive coping mechanisms they have developed over the years.
Helps Integrate Your Entire Nervous System
You went through a traumatic event in your childhood. How does that trauma shake you and leave you anxious and distressed as an adult?
The trauma is stored in your body and stays with you. It manifests itself as disruptive emotions, erratic behavior, body sensations, etc. This affects your entire nervous system because your system does not recover fast enough once the memories grip.
Through EMDR therapy procedures, you have the chance to process the event and deal with the feelings or sensations accurately.
Unlike talk therapy, where you process the event you went through by talking in EMDR, it's all about the space you create. You have a new opportunity of digesting the details and store them differently in your brain.
EMDR boosts your mental health. As you sort through the emotions and sensations you went through during the distressing events, you can select what you learned from it.
Additionally, although EMDR is like a lens that helps you look back to a distressing event, this time, you relieve it without being overwhelmed by emotions. We will discuss more on that shortly.
You Don’t Have to Spill Your Deepest Secrets to the Therapist
Definitely vital for veteran affairs! Due to the horrors they witness in the field; veterans experience various mental health issues such as PTSD symptoms, acute stress disorder, etc.
Although other therapies can help, EMDR is a more effective treatment program.
Why is that?
In other treatment sessions, first stage: there is a lot of opening up involved. Second stage: the therapist identifies how the event affects you and helps you with your recovery journey.
That is good, but how will it work when there are classified missions and government secrets that can threaten national security? That becomes a little tricky!
That is where EMDR therapy comes in. in an EMDR session, there is not much talking involved. You need to focus on the traumatic experiences during the initial EMDR processing. Your brain will do the rest of the work.
Therefore you don't have to divulge any sensitive information!
There is Much More to EMDR Than Just Relieving Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder!
Mental health is essential, but it is not the only part that needs healing when dealing with trauma. EMDR therapy helps you relieve your symptoms, but it does more than just that.
During the body scan phase of EMDR treatment, you get two main benefits:
Psychological recovery from trauma
A feeling of physical recovery
Although the physical wounds sustained during a traumatic event may heal, the inner wounds may take more time. Simply because we don't see them, it doesn’t mean that emotional distress doesn't affect our physical bodies.
So healing emotional wounds helps us rejuvenate even our physical bodies!
Side Effects of EMDR
Sadly as magical as EMDR sounds, there may be some side effects you will experience. Here are a few examples:
You may feel lighthearted
Physical responses to stress such as vomiting
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Can Benefit from EMDR?
Anyone who has gone through a traumatic event that they have not recovered from can benefit from EMDR. Therefore if you are feeling stuck, anxious, excessively stressed, or depressed, you can go for EMDR and reap the benefits it offers.
How Long Does a Single EMDR Session Last?
A single EMDR session takes between 60 to 90 seconds. It depends on various factors, such as the target memory and how long it will take to replace the negative emotions with new positive ones.
How Frequently is EMDR treatment recommended?
The recommended frequency is once per week. However, it all depends on you and what you are comfortable with.
Is EMDR Effective?
EMDR is typically far more effective than other forms of therapy such as psychoanalysis. Therefore if you want faster results, get the help of Change Inc. Counseling Services for the best EMDR Therapy in Lakewood, CO.
Don't be afraid to seek mental health services. Whether you experienced trauma as a child, as a veteran, or as an adult, it can alter the direction of your life.
Does it change your life negatively or not? The choice is yours.
There are various stress reduction techniques that mental health counselors can use to help you in the recovery journey. So seek help and start cutting ties with the trauma that pulls you down every time you try to rise above it. We are ready to help when you’re ready.