EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy is one of the most effective treatments for trauma and other difficult life experiences. The therapy uses bilateral stimulation, or left-right rhythmic movement, to help people process and recover from their experiences.
What is EMDR therapy and How Does It Work?
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses bilateral stimulation to help people process and recover from traumatic experiences or other difficult life experiences. The therapy involves left-right rhythmic movement, such as eye movement desensitization, tapping, or audio stimulation. This will allow people to access and process the memories and negative emotions associated with the traumatic experience.
EMDR therapy has been found to be an effective treatment for trauma, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In addition to treating trauma, it can be a highly effective treatment for other issues, such as depression, anxiety, and phobias. EMDR therapy can be done in individual or group settings.
What is EMDR Therapy Used to Treat?
EMDR therapy has been shown to be a highly effective treatment for a number of different issues. People who have experienced traumatic events may use EMDR therapy to manage symptoms related to the psychological trauma, such as intrusive memories and negative emotions of distressing events. Additionally, people who are struggling with anxiety or depression can benefit from this type of psychotherapy.
Is EMDR Therapy Dangerous and Does It Cause Any Side Effects?
EMDR therapy is not considered to be dangerous when used by trained practitioners in appropriate situations when it is applied using established protocols. However, any psychotherapy technique may result in psychological distress if used inappropriately.
So, people should consider their options carefully before undergoing any treatment. It is important that they feel comfortable with the therapist delivering the psychotherapy and that there is evidence for it being effective for their specific needs. If you’re struggling with PTSD or dealing with other issues related to difficult life experiences, talk to your therapist about whether EMDR treatment may be right for you.
If EMDR therapy is done by a well-trained and experienced clinician, side effects should be minimal. There may be mild discomfort or fatigue following the treatment. People also might experience disturbing thoughts, feelings, and memories during the therapy. Additionally, researchers have found that people experience better results if they disclose traumatic experiences to their therapist because it helps them process the memories more completely. It is an effective treatment when used properly and under the supervision of trained EMDR therapists.
How is EMDR Therapy Performed?
EMDR therapy should only be performed by a trained mental health professional. The process usually involves several phases, such as an interview to assess the client and develop a treatment plan (psychotherapy best practices would suggest this step be done before moving forward with any procedures). Then, the therapist will identify negative beliefs about oneself linked to the traumatic experience and replace them with more positive beliefs. Next, the EMDR therapist uses bilateral stimulation to help the person begin processing and recovering from memories related to the experience.
The actual eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy itself can take less than an hour or require many sessions depending on how long it takes for the client’s memories of their experiences to become fully processed. After treatment, clients continue using what they have learned in therapy even after formal treatment ends so that they can manage their symptoms on their own.
The 8 Phases of EMDR Therapy:
History-taking and treatment planning
The eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapist discusses the client’s responses to past experiences, how these experiences have affected their lives, and develop a treatment plan that will guide them throughout the therapy. This is called “Psychoeducation.” It is important for the therapist to get a thorough understanding of what has happened in the client’s life so they can help them heal more completely.
During this phase, the therapist explains EMDR therapy and prepares the client for what they will experience during the upcoming sessions. The therapist also assesses whether or not it will be safe for clients to participate in EMDR therapy (for instance, if there are seizure disorders or substance abuse issues) and develops a safety contract with them.
The EMDR therapist helps the client become aware of and understand their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations related to the traumatic experience(s). This step is important in helping clients make the most of EMDR therapy.
In this phase, the therapist uses bilateral stimulation (either eye movements or sounds) to help the person process and reprocess their memories of the disturbing event. The therapist will ask them to focus on different aspects of the memory, such as how it made them feel at the time, what they were thinking and feeling afterward, and how they currently think and feel about it.
This phase helps clients replace negative beliefs about themselves with more positive beliefs. The therapist will ask the client to focus on the positive aspects of themselves that have emerged since they experienced the traumatic event.
During this phase, the therapist asks the client to focus on any physical sensations they are feeling as a result of the memories related to the traumatic experience. This can help them release any stored energy or feelings associated with those memories.
The therapist helps the client process what they have learned and decide that they are ready to end treatment. They also set up a plan for continued care and support.
Clients continue working on their healing journey after formal EMDR therapy has ended by using what they have learned to manage their symptoms on their own.
What Research Says About EMDR Therapy?
Research has shown that EMDR therapy is an effective treatment for trauma, including PTSD, and can be effective in treating trauma from many difficult life experiences. It has also been shown to be effective in treating depression, anxiety, and phobias. Multiple studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach for reducing negative thoughts, emotions, physical distress associated with traumatic memories, etc.; it’s also been shown to improve people’s coping abilities.
Studies suggest that it helps people process traumatic memories more completely so they are not overwhelmed by them or re-experience them as often. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies both advocate EMDR treatment for adults and children with PTSD.
Is Online EMDR Therapy Possible?
When EMDR therapy is delivered online, the basic principles and phases of EMDR do not change. It is essentially the same as in-person treatment, with the potential exception that people undergoing therapy may take advantage of their own home comforts while receiving treatment. With the therapy being conducted on a HIPAA compliant platform rather than an in-person meeting.
The client’s surroundings while engaging in virtual EMDR therapy are critical. One of the most essential elements of EMDR is ensuring a safe environment. Some clients are forced to have therapy in less than ideal settings such as cars, at their workplace, or in their home closet because they don’t have a private office for them to go to. This is obviously not recommended for EMDR treatment.
Although most clients can locate a secure place to conduct therapy sessions, many others live with family members or roommates who can’t or won’t leave. So it is extremely important for the client to confirm the availability of a quiet, private area in which to really be able to focus fully on the session for engaging in EMDR therapy over video conferencing.
Many providers have been successfully using EMDR online for years. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for effective online therapies. And fortunately, thousands of providers adapted to delivering EMDR as a remote-therapy and telehealth treatment.
There has not yet been extensive studies comparing internet-only EMDR to in-person EMDR; nevertheless, pre-released data is encouraging. Also, the therapists here at InnerVoice PC have personally seen excellent results when treating clients with online EMDR therapy.
Virtual EMDR Set Up Vs Traditional Set Up:
Virtual EMDR Set Up: the client is alone in a quiet environment where they can feel safe and comfortable, then they are asked to sit in front of their PC or mobile device with the therapist on the screen.
Traditional Set Up: the client goes to a therapist’s office and they are seated across from each other.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as each person’s needs vary. However, many people find that the virtual EMDR set up is more comfortable and private, which can be helpful when working on traumatic memories.
On the other hand, because the therapist is able to see the client’s body language and facial expressions, they can provide real-time feedback that can be helpful in accelerating the natural healing processes.
Is EMDR Covered By Insurance?
If your health insurance covers therapy, it most likely includes EMDR as part of trauma treatment. However, because occasionally EMDR sessions go on for longer than a typical 45-60 minute therapy session, it’s important to inquire with your insurer about coverage for longer sessions.
Cost of EMDR and Points to Consider Before Moving Forward
The cost of EMDR therapy sessions can vary depending on the therapist’s location and experience. However, it is typically more expensive than traditional talk therapy.
If you’re thinking about trying EMDR therapy, there are a few things to keep in mind:
The therapist should be well-versed in treating patients with EMDR therapy. It’s important to work with a therapist who keeps abreast of the latest research and who has considerable experience with EMDR therapy. This is why each and every therapist at IVPC has received extensive training on EMDR therapy.
The client should make sure that therapy is conducted via a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant platform that protects patients’ sensitive data.
The therapist should complete an extensive training process that includes at least 40 hours of training, attending at least one workshop per month, and keeping up with ongoing training.
Part of the treatment involves regular home practice at each stage for between one and six weeks depending on what’s needed. This should not be a problem as long as the client lives alone or is able to access a private space to work on mirroring their responses.
The entire treatment typically lasts between 6 to 12 sessions.
Clients should continue to work on their trauma symptoms after completing formal EMDR therapy. This may require engaging in traditional talk therapy, attending a support group, or reading self-help books.
Biggest Pros Relating to EMDR Therapy
Numerous studies support its effectiveness in treating trauma, anxiety, depression, etc.
It’s often relatively short-term, and can last as few as just 6 to 12 sessions.
Sometimes it becomes a stressful and emotionally charged process to re-experience those disturbing events. (Although, the therapist will always be present to help you control your emotions).
The client’s symptoms must be amenable to change. (This means that they cannot experience an increase in symptoms during the process of EMDR therapy).
Some people may find the bilateral movements (i.e., side to side eye movement desensitization) unsettling or distracting.
Because EMDR therapy is highly customizable, it can be used for a variety of issues including PTSD, depression, anxiety disorders, and phobias to improve your mental health. Research shows that it is more effective than exposure-based therapies and can sometimes be completed in as little as 6 to 12 sessions. EMDR has also been shown to help clients better manage their symptoms after formal therapy ends.
We believe so strongly in the power of EMDR therapy that in addition to the years of psychotherapy training and experience, every therapist on staff has undergone extensive training on EMDR treatment.
You no doubt came across this blog post because you’re interested in EMDR therapy. And it doesn’t matter if you were referred to us by a happy client, or found us through a Google search like EMDR Therapy Chicago or EMDR therapy near me. The important thing is that you’re here now, and looking for help. And we want to help you feel better. So take the next step and contact us. And we’ll do everything in our power to make you glad that you did.