Who can practice EMDR Therapy?

Clinicians who specialize in EMDR have undergone thorough preparation and direction to use the therapy with their clients. The therapy process consists of scripted protocols meant to arouse activity in specific sections of the brain. They simulate eye movements that are comparable to the ones that happen during our REM sleep cycle. The process causes both sides of the brain to work at the same time. Some clinicians will replace eye movements with tactile or auditory stimulation.

What is EMDR therapy?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (or EMDR) is a method of psychotherapy. Increasingly it’s used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Francine Shapiro developed it in the 1990s. A person treated is asked to recall distressing images while the therapist guides the client through side-to-side eye movements or hand tapping. Mental health practitioners consider it an evidence-based treatment for trauma recovery.

Does EMDR work for anxiety?

EMDR has been found to effectively help mood and anxiety disorders, including depression, and phobias. As panic attacks are regularly associated with trauma, EMDR may be exceptionally helpful in treating these anxiety-related disorders.

What is EMDR used to treat?

EMDR is designed to relieve psychological stress. It’s an effective treatment for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which cause undue stress on an individual who’s not recovering from such emotional injuries through traditional psychotherapy. 

How long does it take for EMDR to work?

“More than thirty positive controlled outcome studies have been conducted on EMDR therapy.  Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.  Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions.”

Is EMDR dangerous?

There are very few negative aspects to using EMDR therapy. The most significant criticism of EMDR is that it hasn’t been used long enough to draw long-term conclusions about its effectiveness. There are relatively few practitioners of this treatment compared to other therapies such as cognitive or behavioral therapy. Fortunately, Healing Paths in Bountiful is one of the few clinics in Utah with therapists trained in this fantastic mental health technology.

How does EMDR therapy help?

“It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.”

What is an EMDR session?

During an EMDR therapy session, you are reminded of triggering experiences in brief doses while the therapist directs your eye movements. EMDR is effective because remembering upsetting events is less upsetting when your attention is distracted. This allows you to be exposed to traumatic memories without having a strong psychological response.

How long does an EMDR session last?

About 60 to 90 minutes.

What happens in an EMDR session?

There are eights phases of treatment in EMDR. The first phase focuses on taking a thorough client history, followed by a preparation stage for the clinician. In the Rapid Eye Movement portion, the client focuses their attention on a troubling memory and identifies the belief about oneself connected to this negative memory. (For example, in dealing with an act of violence in war, the person might feel a sense of guilt or shame). The patient then imagines a positive belief that they’d like to have about themselves. Both the practitioner and patient identify the physical sensations from the emotions that accompany the memory. The individual then recalls the traumatic memory while focusing on an external stimulus that creates a side to side eye movement. They often watch the therapist move a finger from side to side. After each set of eye movements, the individual is asked to describe their feelings. This process continues until the memory is no longer alarming to the patient.

Is EMDR evidence based?

“Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an empirically validated treatment for trauma, including such negative life experiences as commonly present in medical practice.”

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About Healing Paths, Inc

We are a Bountiful, Utah-based clinic, which specializes in trauma therapy, behavioral addiction treatment, and family counseling. We have a full line-up of mental health experts. Some of our counselors, like Adam Nisenson, specialize in PTSD treatment like EMDR.

Watch a Personal Experience with EMDR