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Movement Desensitization Reprocessing
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapeutic approach that helps people heals from the symptoms and emotional distress caused by a traumatic or upsetting events. Originally introduced as a therapeutic model to treat post traumatic stress disorder, it has proven to be effective with other issues such as: grief, anxiety, phobia, depression, stress, addictions, self–esteem, and performance anxiety. This is a short term and effective approach to enhancing performance and your outlook on life. Clients report improvement after just a few sessions.
Your body is built to heal itself and EMDR utilizes this natural ability. Using eye movements similar to those during REM sleep, EMDR clears the negative thoughts that stick in your brain without you having to relive the details of an event.
The model is a three pronged protocol; processing memories from the past, desensitizing present symptoms and develops templates for future situations. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process the experiences that are causing symptoms, and to include new ones that are needed for optimal health.
What to expect?
During the first session, the therapist will meet with you to gather a detailed history of events and symptoms. It is not necessary to go into detail but rather to note events or images that are causing current day symptoms. The therapist will complete an assessment and a treatment plan based on your needs and goals.
In the second phase or preparation phase the therapist will develop a professional relationship with you that include trust, compassion and understanding your needs. She will then introduce resources, tools that will help you with any current symptoms such as anxiety, sadness or worry. Resources involve guided imagery, mindfulness and other positive strength based techniques to improve your day to day functioning. You will learn about EMDR, how it works and what do expect during the following phases.
The next phase is identifying the target images and negative beliefs that you hold regarding the image. An example is someone who doesn’t believe that they are good enough and recognize that the first time they felt this way failing an exam. The image that is processed is the exam and the negative belief is I am not good enough. You will be asked how you want to feel when you think of that image and the positive belief is I am good enough. You will also be asked to rate how it feels in your body.
Once the target, the negative belief, and the positive belief are established the image is processed. This involves watching a light move back and forth, or listening to a sound (bilateral stimulation), as you image the target and the negative belief. After a few sets most people report that the image is no longer disturbing and the positive belief is strong. Everyone is different and everyone clears at their own pace with different results.
The processing is finished by installing a future template. This involves imaging at time in the future where a similar event will occur and installing the positive belief with bilateral stimulation.
Depending on the targets, the negative beliefs and the complexity of the trauma will determine the length of treatment. Everyone is different, so it is difficult to predict exactly the length and content of treatment. Through numerous studies and research EMDR has been proven to be an effective method of treatment that is shorter in duration than and not as painful as talk therapy.
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