What is EMDR Therapy in Layman’s Terms?

EMDR Session

We’ve collected the most asked questions about EMDR therapy from a selection of authorities in an effort to explain EMDR therapy in layman’s terms.

We also hope this post will answer the majority of your questions around the subject. If you have a question or would like a chat about EMDR for your condition, then please contact us to arrange a friendly chat.

“Changing the memories that form the way we see ourselves also changes the way we view others. Therefore, our relationships, job performance, what we are willing to do or are able to resist, all move in a positive direction.”

― Francine Shapiro, Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy

Trauma Therapy

What is EMDR therapy in layman's terms?

EMDR is a therapy aimed at helping people in recovering from a traumatic event. After any traumatic event the images, thoughts and emotions can remain. These can create ‘overwhelm’, of being back in that moment where you may feel “frozen in time.”

EMDR Therapy helps you process these memories with billateral stimulation and therefore allows normal healing to occur. It effectively helps your brain to join the dots of a neural network so that it recognises an event is in the past rather than still occuring in the present.

How Effective is EMDR Therapy?

A 2012 study of 22 people* found that EMDR therapy helped 77 percent of the individuals with psychotic disorder and PTSD. It found that their hallucinations, delusions, anxiety, and depression symptoms were significantly improved after treatment. The study also found that symptoms were not exacerbated during treatment.

An older study** that compared EMDR therapy to typical prolonged exposure therapy, found that EMDR therapy was more effective in treating symptoms.

The study also found that EMDR therapy had a lower dropout rate from participants. Both, however, offered a reduction in the symptoms of traumatic stress, including both anxiety and depression.

Several small studies have also found evidence that EMDR therapy is not only effective in the short term, but that its effects can be maintained long term. One 2004 study evaluated people several months after they were given either “standard care” (SC) treatment for PTSD or EMDR therapy.

During and immediately after treatment, they noticed that EMDR was significantly more efficient in reducing symptoms of PTSD. During the three- and six-month follow-ups, they also recognized that participants maintained these benefits long after the treatment had ended.

[Extracted from healthline.com]

"I used to feel like the trauma I endured over twenty years ago was still happening to me. I don't feel like that anymore"

Eye

What Happens in EMDR Treatment?

EMDR therapy can be used as a stand alone therapy or in an adjunct way as part of a broader psychotherapeutic approach. Building a good therapeutic relationship between clients and therapist is important for trauma healing. It can be used for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

An EMDR therapist uses a collaborative approach to help you decide on what traumas you might like to work on in a history taking phase of EMDR. After an assessment of each trauma processing takes place with billateral stimulation in the form of auditory beeps, eye movements, tactile buzzers, tapping or a combination of the above.

The therapist will explain the EMDR process and answer all of your questions.

How do I get the most out of EMDR?

The success of your EMDR sessions largely rely on how willing you are to be vulnerable and open with your therapist. The sooner you are able to unearth the deeply hidden pains from your past, the quicker your therapist can guide you in healing from them. It's also important to keep in mind that you are always in complete control of the process. At no point during EMDR will you be forced to do something you don't want to do. That said, trusting your therapist and opening up to them will allow the healing process to be accelerated.

[Extracted from Fuller Life Counselling]

How long does EMDR take to work?

Each individual reacts differently to EMDR therapy, a typical session can last between 50-90 minutes. Processing a one off isolated trauma target might only take a few sessions. Unfortunately we tend to link traumas together into neural networks which means trauma processing can go on over several months especially in relation to complex trauma.

Does EMDR work long term?

***Several small studies have also found evidence that EMDR therapy is not only effective in the short term, but that its effects can be maintained long term. One 2004 study evaluated people several months after they were given either “standard care” (SC) treatment for PTSD or EMDR therapy.

During and immediately after treatment, they noticed that EMDR was significantly more efficient in reducing symptoms of PTSD. During the three- and six-month follow-ups, they also recognized that participants maintained these benefits long after the treatment had ended.

The Trauma Practice Team

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