EMDR Therapy for Anxiety, Panic, PTSD, and Trauma: How It Works and Its Effectiveness

Anyone who has had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trauma, panic, or anxiety knows how much power it can have over a person’s life. Your quality of life changes, and it becomes more difficult to live a happy and fulfilled life.

While you may try other forms of treatment, such as traditional therapy, to improve your situation, EMDR therapy may be the best option for you. Continue reading to learn more about its operation and effectiveness.

What Is EMDR Therapy?

The term “EMDR” stands for “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.” It is an interactive psychotherapy technique that relieves psychological stress. Francine Shapiro, a psychologist, invented it in 1990. It aided in the treatment of people suffering from trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, and anxiety.

EMDR therapy is a technique that works on the premise that painful and traumatic memories that have not been fully processed can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. Triggers such as smells, words, sounds, and sights force you to relive the memories.

By changing the way your brain stores memories, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy help to alleviate trauma symptoms. This method of treatment also helps with mental health issues, particularly those related to past trauma.

How EMDR Therapy Works

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy is carried out in eight stages. You will need to attend multiple therapy sessions. You may require six to twelve sessions or more, depending on your therapist’s recommendations.

The adaptive information processing model (AIP) is used in EMDR. The model is based on the fact that individuals have an innate system that allows them to process new information, comprehend it, and store it in the brain as a memory.

However, if you have a very distressing or traumatic experience, it slows down the process. As a result, you improperly store physical sensations, feelings, thoughts, and memories. As a result, an individual begins to experience PTSD and symptoms such as flashbacks, depression, and anxiety.

According to the AIP model theory, when one adequately processes their memories, their symptoms and signs resolve. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy both aid in the processing of specific memories.

EMDR causes your brain to store processed memories in a way that is associated with new emotions and thoughts. As a result, it promotes healing by allowing your brain to feel and think differently about things and events from the past. Your brain also learns to react differently when future events trigger it.

Phases of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

Below are the phases of EMDR therapy:

  • Phase one

It entails your medical history as well as treatment planning. Your therapist will begin by going over your medical history and symptoms. This will assist them in understanding what to target in their memories, what triggers them, and how to plan for treatment.

  • Phase two

After your therapist speaks with you briefly to understand your trauma and determine what needs to be addressed, they will proceed to the next phase, which is preparation.

Your therapist will teach you how to cope with and manage the psychological or emotional stress that you are experiencing or that may arise during treatment. They will accomplish this by teaching you various techniques. Mindfulness exercises and deep breathing, for example, may be used to manage stress.

  • Phase three

This phase involves your therapist guiding you through the process of selecting and targeting specific memories and their relevant aspects, such as physical sensations, images, painful emotions, or distressing self-beliefs.

  • Phases four to seven

At this point, treatment begins. In these stages, your therapist will address specific memories using EMDR techniques in four stages.

Sensitization is the first stage. As you focus on a negative image, memory, or thought, your therapist will guide you through BLS, or bilateral stimulation. BLS may use blinking lights, audio tones, tapping, or specific eye movements. You will then allow your mind to wander as you observe the feelings and thoughts that arise spontaneously.

If the traumatic memory no longer triggers unwanted emotions, your therapist will have you move on or refocus on it.

The second stage consists of installation. In phase three, you will replace the negative image or self-belief you had with a positive one. Repeated bilateral stimulation will assist you in focusing on your new belief.

The third stage is a body scan, during which your therapist will ask if the memory being worked on causes any unpleasant physical sensations or pain. They will then walk you through another round of bilateral stimulation if the client is affected by the memory.

The fourth stage is completion. After each session, your therapist investigates your progress and suggests coping strategies and relaxation techniques. This will assist you in maintaining your progress with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy.

  • Phase eight

Re-evaluation is the final stage of EMDR therapy. Your therapist will inquire about the feelings and memories you discussed in the previous session to see if they continue to bother you. If that is the case, they will continue to target them. If not, the therapist will suggest moving on to other goals.

How Effective is EMDR Therapy?

Some people may become skeptical of EMDR because they believe it can solve their painful memories simply by thinking about them while making eye movements. While some experts are not sure how exactly this technique works, others believe EMDR is an effective therapy. They do so because they know that if they focus their attention on traumatic memories, the individual will become less emotionally upset.

The BLS or bilateral stimulation, a technique used by EMDR therapists helps patients focus on certain things while accessing unwanted and painful memories and thoughts. As a result, the intensity of the memory is reduced, allowing one to process everything without feeling overwhelmed.

EMDR therapy is regarded by experts as one of the most effective treatments for PTSD, stress, and trauma-related disorders. Many organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization (WHO), support EMDR therapy as effective.

Find the Best EMDR Therapy at Intensive Therapy Retreats

Intensive Therapy Retreats provide the best EMDR therapy provided by licensed and trained mental health professionals. When someone is in distress, everyone deserves an effective intervention.

PTSD, trauma, panic, and anxiety caused by past events are all treated by therapists at Intensive Therapy Retreats. We also provide EMDR therapy for children who have experienced traumatic events. To book an appointment today, please call or fill out our contact form.