EMDR Therapy For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

EMDR is one of many therapies that can help treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. But it’s important to choose a trained therapist, especially an EMDRIA-certified EMDR therapist, for the best results. A good therapist will be able to make you feel safe, supported and understood. They will also know how to tailor the treatment to your specific needs.

During a typical EMDR session, you’ll recall a traumatic memory while your therapist follows a set of cues such as eye movements or tapping. This is intended to stimulate the brain, reduce the intensity of the distressing memory and install positive thoughts and emotions instead. The therapist can use a variety of stimuli to trigger this process, including the patient tracking blue lights on a bar with their eyes or holding a buzzer that sends oscillating vibrations in the hand.

The underlying theory behind EMDR is that when memories are unprocessed, the brain becomes overloaded with information and may start to experience what people who have PTSD describe as having a flashback – an overwhelming and disturbing sensation like they’re reliving the trauma. During a EMDR session, you’ll access your traumatic memory in a way that’s similar to how the brain processes REM sleep during sleep. As a result, it helps “blur” the memory and makes it less intense and overpowering.

While EMDR was originally developed to treat PTSD, it’s also been shown effective for other conditions, such as panic disorder and the emotional distress associated with the death of a loved one. In fact, a recent study showed that EMDR can be as effective as CBT for the recurrence of a panic attack following a stressful event.

After a few sessions, the therapist will evaluate your progress and ask you to focus on different aspects of your distressing memories. During the process, you’ll be asked to rate how true or false your positive cognitions are on a scale of 1 to 7. Your therapist will want to ensure that you not only logically understand that you are safe but that you actually, emotionally feel this within yourself.

After you’ve completed the 8-phase cycle, your therapist will conclude each session with closure and stabilization. They will review ways to manage negative thoughts, feelings and reactions that occur between sessions, such as writing them down or using visualization techniques to calm the mind. They will also talk about what to expect during future EMDR sessions and how to prepare for them. Most insurance providers cover EMDR Therapy, but it’s important to check with your provider to be sure they have in-network EMDR therapists. They can also provide you with a list of resources that can help you get started in this treatment. They might even recommend teletherapy options to avoid travel expenses and keep you close to home.