EMDR Therapy

EMDR Therapy Programs or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Psychotherapy & EMDR Therapy for PTSD

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Programs, services, and treatments vary. We Level Up rehab facilities do not provide EMDR therapy. Because patient stability should come prior to EMDR treatment. That’s why EMDR therapy to process trauma for patients actively drinking and abusing drugs should await their stability phase of treatment. EMDR phases 3 – 8 therapy is best enacted for patients that feel and experience a safer, trustful connection with their treatment team.

What is EMDR therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy) is a therapeutic method that is especially effective in traumatic disorders.  EMDR therapy can be effective to decrease craving for abused substances, fear, depression, improved emotion regulation and management, and self-esteem.  Initial findings indicate a high therapeutic potential of EMDR in substance use disorder (SUD) or “addiction” treatment.  [1]

EMDR was initially used for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.  But, it is now being used in various therapeutic situations.

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Overview of Eight-Phase EMDR Therapy Treatment

1. History Taking

The first phase of EMDR is the client’s history and treatment planning.  A detailed history helps the clinician analyze the dysfunctional behaviors, symptoms, and specific characteristics.  And then, the clinician decides the suitable target for treatment.  It may include standard history-taking questionnaires and diagnostic psychometrics.  Questions may include:

  • Past events that have laid the groundwork for the pathology
  • Current triggers
  • Future needs

2. Preparation

This is to prepare appropriate clients for EMDR processing.  The therapist and client make a therapeutic relationship during this phase.  Then, the therapist helps to set a reasonable level of expectations for the client.  Additionally, the therapist will also educate the patient regarding the symptom picture.

3. Assessment

This phase is to access the target for EMDR processing by stimulating primary aspects of the memory.  Assessment is the third phase in which the client and the therapist jointly identify the target memory for the session.  The patient is then instructed to recognize the most salient image associated with this memory.  Finally, the patient is helped to elicit negative beliefs related to it, providing insight into the event’s irrationality.

4. Desensitization

A process experienced toward an adaptive resolution (no distress).  In the fourth desensitization phase, the client’s disturbing event is evaluated to change the trauma-related sensory experiences and associations. Also, increasing the sense of self-efficacy and elicitation of insight is a part of this phase.  In this phase, the client is asked to attend to both the target image and eye movement simultaneously and is instructed to have openness to whatever happens.  After each set of eye movements, the client is directed to take a deep breath and instructed to blank out the material on which the patient is focusing.

5. Installation

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6. Body Scan

The stage for increasing connections to positive cognitive networks.  It helps to enhance the validity of the desired positive belief and fully integrate the positive effects within the memory network.  During the process, ensure the client’s stability at completing an EMDR session and between sessions by using guided imagery or self-control techniques if needed.  Briefing regarding expectations and behavioral reports between sessions are available in this phase.

The sixth phase is the body scan phase.  The client is asked to get the body scanned to know whether any somatic response considered as residues of tension related to the targeted event remains;  if it is present, the therapist targets this body sensation for further processing.

7. Closure

The phase in which the self-control techniques, which were already taught, are used when reprocessing is not complete.  This helps in bringing the person back to a state of equilibrium.  Also, the therapist explains what to expect between sessions and maintains a record of disturbances between sessions to use these targets if necessary for further sessions.

8. Reassessment

This phase ensures the maintenance of therapeutic outcomes and the client’s stability.  Evaluations may include evaluating the treatment effects, evaluating integration within the more extensive social system, reevaluating the eighth phase in which review is carried out for optimal treatment effect, and checking out additional targets.

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EMDR Therapy for PTSD

It is a treatment procedure that is widely accepted and used in clinical settings.  In fact, EMDR was mainly intended for treating PTSD as medical experts found a reduction in PTSD symptoms using the method.  And the subject started to spend less time scanning the environment for threats.  Sexual abuse/rape is another significant area in which EMDR is widely used to alleviate trauma related to it and for better social functioning of the trauma victim.  Deliberate self-harming behaviors that originate from the persons′ exposure to traumatic events can also be treated with this therapeutic method.  For ordinary individuals, EMDR can be used as a stress reduction method.

EMDR reduced subjective distress, anger, job stress, and PTSD symptoms.  In addition, a standard stress management program was also found to be less effective compared to EMDR therapy.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Psychotherapy

As this therapy is in the infantile stage compared to other basic psychotherapies, much more studies should be conducted to know the variety of areas in which EMDR can be used.

Moreover, measures should be taken to spread this therapy to budding clinicians as it has an immediate effect on the clients in reducing their distress.  In conclusion, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an empirically validated psychotherapy approach that medical personnel can use to treat psychological trauma sequelae and other adverse life experiences.

EMDR therapy was introduced in 1989 with the publication of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluating its effects on trauma victims.  The first RCTs on trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy were published the same year.  [2]

In addition, EMDR therapy research has shown that processing memories of such experiences result in the rapid amelioration of negative emotions, beliefs, and physical sensations.  Reports have indicated potential applications for patients with stress-related disorders and those suffering from a wide range of physical conditions.  Moreover, the medical community can also benefit from EMDR therapy for the prevention and rehabilitative services to support both patients and family members.  [3]

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Most importantly, your care is backed by Alumni and Family Solutions counselors offering personalized planning, answers, and information along your journey to recovery.  Even before you embark on treatment, a personal counselor can be reached 24/7 to answer all your questions regarding EMDR therapy as well, without any obligation.

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[1] The Role of EMDR in Substance Use Disorders – National Library of Medicine
[2] Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: A Conceptual Framework – National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
[3] The Role of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy in Medicine:  Addressing the Psychological and Physical Symptoms Stemming from Adverse Life Experiences