Most, if not all of us, have had negative experiences that we’d rather forget. Yet, they live on in our minds and hearts in the form of memories. It is also true that some have gone through worse experiences as early as childhood. Experiences such as emotional abuse, violence and neglect that can impact a child’s worldview. Even research has confirmed that such negative childhood experiences have an impact on the brain’s development.
To be more specific, negative childhood experiences can slow down or change the brain’s development. Perhaps it’s time to put down the bottle or that cigarette and deal with the underlying issue. Drugs will only numb the pain for a moment, but they will never make it go away.
Consider a treatment known as the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy. Naturally, you’d want to know what you’re getting yourself into first. Hence, below we address important questions concerning the above-mentioned therapy.
What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy?
This type of therapy has something to do with treating trauma and is based on sporadic visual stimulation. More specifically, it is based on the lateral movement of the eyes.
You’re probably wondering what the eye movements have to do with treating traumatic experiences. Well, think of REM sleep and how our eyes tend to move sporadically when we’re in that phase. Dreams are often the brain’s way of interpreting memories and/or experiences and trying to make sense of them.
Now, the movement of the eyes continuously from left to right is to help a patient remember memories. Yet, the treatment goes a step further. Visual stimulation is used to reduce the emotional impact those experiences have had on the person.
In essence, this therapy is used to help treat and reduce the impact of trauma on the patient. It is also used to help the patient recover from the impact of the trauma.
How Does it Work?
It is yet to be understood how this type of therapy interacts with the brain to help reduce the impact of a certain memory. Regardless, its effectiveness has been proven time and time again. From patients that have experienced successful recoveries to research backing it up, it is very effective.
One should note that EDMR incorporates certain facets of Cognitive Behavioral Theory. As time and research have continued to prove, incorporating the above-mentioned therapy was a good move. In other words, it increases the effectiveness of EMDR in treating PTSD, trauma and other related conditions.
What is its Origin?
This treatment was developed in the 1980s by a certain Dr Francine Shapiro. She based her discoveries on the impact of eye movement and visual stimulation from observation. She later added facets of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to increase its effectiveness. She did get to observe how its effectiveness had increased in treating trauma and PTSD.
What Are the Eight Stages of Treatment?
- History and Treatment Planning: This is a necessary step towards developing an effective treatment plan for the patient. By understanding the patient’s medical history, the therapist will have a better understanding of a suitable approach.
- Preparation: This is a crucial step as it sets the tone for the rest of the treatment. In this stage, the therapist has to understand the patient’s traumatic experiences. The therapist is also responsible for linking the traumatic experiences to the patient’s addiction and understanding it. With better understanding, the therapist will know how to approach the treatment process. Additionally, the patient will be equipped with certain coping skills to use during each session.
- Assessment: Here’s where the real work begins. The counsellor will have to encourage the patient to share a specific memory. After the patient is comfortable enough to share, they are also encouraged to share what they think about the memory. More often than not, the patient’s thoughts are negative. The therapist will then gently coax the patient to come up with a positive thought associated with the memory.
- Desensitization: This is where the use of visual stimulation comes in. As the patient focuses on a particular scene, the therapist moves his finger right and left or vice versa. The patient follows the movement of the finger while focusing on a certain memory. He/she is then asked to blank it out.
- Installation: Remember the assessment step? Well, here the therapist tries to increase the strength of the positive thought associated with the memory.
- Body Scan: This is where both the therapist and patient check to see if it worked. The patient has to focus on a certain memory and check how his body feels. Does he/she still feel tense? If yes, then the therapist’s work is to dispel those tense emotions. This is often called reprocessing.
- Closure: Remember step two? The patient was taught coping skills during that step. During the closure stage, he/she is required to put them to good use. This stage can be difficult, and the coping skills can help him/her remain calm.
- Re-evaluation: This is where the therapist keeps an eye on any progress made and areas that still need attending to.
What Should You Know Before Trying Out the Treatment?
Are there any side effects of this treatment? Is it as fast as it is effective? Is it right for me? These are all valid questions and concerns. Below are a few things you ought to know:
- The treatment requires that you attend every session to experience recovery. It is not an overnight treatment
- The initial stages of the treatment can be difficult for the patient.
- One can experience light-headedness due to the heightened sense of awareness
If you are struggling with PTSD or experiencing symptoms such as flashbacks, you might want to give it a try.