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EMDR Therapy

Mental Health Center of San Diego

As an extensively researched therapeutic technique used to mitigate psychological stress, eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) helps patients recover from life-altering mental health conditions such as acute anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Renowned organizations such as the American Psychological Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness endorse EMDR as an effective mental health strategy that treats the most serious mental health disorders.

What is EMDR Therapy?

The psychological principle behind eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy is reducing the likelihood of a sound, smell, sight, or group of words triggering the negative emotions that are associated with a past traumatic event. Adequately credentialed mental health professionals use EMDR to change how a client stores memories in the brain. This type of therapy focuses on recalling a highly negative past life event while a patient completes a series of eye movements that go from side to side. Moving both eyes from side to side helps a client diminish and eventually remove distressful memories.

Initially created to treat the most impactful trauma cases, EMDR also mitigates the symptoms produced by other types of mental health conditions that are linked to past traumatic events. Most of the licensed and certified practitioners of EMDR consider the therapy to represent a nontraditional type of psychotherapy.

The fundamental principle behind eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy is to turn improperly processed traumatic event memories into much less significant life events that do not cause serious mental health symptoms.

What is EMDR Therapy Used to Treat?

The original intent of implementing EMDR techniques was to help patients living with overwhelmingly severe traumatic memories was to control the negative thoughts that diminished the quality of their lives. EMDR has emerged as one of the most common types of psychotherapy used to treat victims of PTSD, which includes military veterans, law enforcement officers, and the victims of violent crime.

Refinements made in the implementation of EMDR therapy have expanded the treatment method to help clients cope with serious mental health issues such as depression, acute anxiety, and panic attacks. A review conducted in 2017 by the United States federal government suggests eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy might positively impact patients who suffer from sleep and eating disorders. EMDR seems to represent a safe type of mental health tool to treat other types of conditions as well, but additional research is required to validate the initial findings.

What to Expect with EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy involves completing eight phases of treatment that require patients to participate in several sessions. Before you start the EMDR therapy process, your therapist will discuss each step with you in detail.

Analysis

The first session of EMDR therapy involves reviewing your mental health history to determine how other types of treatments have impacted your symptoms. This session provides your therapist with a foundation in which to create a unique plan for identifying specific memories to target for treatment.

Preparation

Your therapist teaches a couple of techniques to help you manage the most negative thoughts and emotions. The treatment techniques are used to get you acclimated to EMDR therapy.

Assessment

In the third phase of treatment, EMDR therapy guides you through the process of addressing a specific harmful memory such as a constantly intrusive emotion that appears suddenly. The assessment phase also educates your therapist on the extent of your traumatic memories.

Treatment

Phases four through seven integrate treatment techniques that include desensitization, installation, body scan, and closure. Installation represents the most important stage of treatment, as it helps you replace negative thoughts and emotions with positive thoughts and emotions.

Evaluation

The evaluation phase of treatment provides your therapist with insight into how much progress you have made in addressing negative thoughts and emotions.

The Benefits of EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy helps clients transform their beliefs that are based on a highly negative past life event. Eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy is especially effective at reducing the severe nature of the symptoms that develop because of PTSD. Victims of violent crimes, as well as military veterans and law enforcement officers benefit from a technique that relies on a consistent pattern of side-to-side eye movements. EMDR therapy emerged as a viable type of psychotherapy for military veterans that returned home after combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

EMDR therapy often produces fast, positive results because of the active participation of patients that enroll in the psychotherapy program. It has become noted for representing a proactive form of psychotherapy that controls milder stress factors before they grow into major mental health issues.

Getting Started with
EMDR Therapy in San Diego

Although many EMDR therapists treat the symptoms that develop because of post-traumatic stress disorder, you might require the support of an EMDR clinician who specializes in treating another type of mental health condition, such as a type of eating disorder.

The Mental Health Center of San Diego will connect you with an EMDR clinician who also specializes in the treatment of your specific mental health symptoms; to learn more call 858-465-7722.