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Why Should You Opt For EMDR And What Should You Expect?

EMDR

Trauma may be defined as any negative incident that can scar the mind. Some examples of trauma are personal injuries, accidents, divorce, abuse, and acts of violence. While some victims of trauma can overcome its scarring mental effects with time and family support, professional help may be needed in some cases. Professional psychological evaluation of trauma is needed when the victim develops post-traumatic stress disorder as the latter hampers professional, personal, and social life aspects. 

EMDR is one of the best recommended psychological therapies for treating PTSD, and its use has helped millions of people conquer the scarring effects of trauma. Many forensic trials and rehabilitation projects have studied the effects of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy in treating PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). 

EMDR helps in the symptomatic treatment of PTSD, including reducing re-experiencing traumatic events, nightmares, negative thoughts and patterns, vicious self-blame, and reactivity. EMDR has well-documented results in treating anxiety, depression, addictions, panic attacks and addictions. 

The History of EMDR

EMDR was discovered in 1987 by psychologist Francine Shapiro, and since then, this phased, focus driven approach to trauma treatment has become extremely popular. Patients are reconnected to the images, body sensations, and thoughts associated with the trauma safely and effectively under a controlled environment. EMDR says that symptoms can only occur when the negative memory overpowers the brain's natural capacity to heal. This healing process can be stimulated through a bilateral psychological stimulation done under a licensed psychologist's guidance. This bilateral stimulation is conducted when the client is re-exposed to the trauma in a psychology clinic's safe environment.

How does EMDR Work?

At the heart of EMDR, there is the proven fact that intensely distressing memories lose their potency and are less impactful when the attention is diverted. Long term practice of EMDR allows harmless exposure to traumatic memories without eliciting a strong response. 

In general, EMDR therapy can be divided into 8 phases. The first phase involves reviewing the history of the problem and the decision making process about treatment methodology. This phase also identifies the exact nature of the trauma and pinpoints the specific memories that need treatment. Our EMDR specialist then works with the patient to identify different coping methods with psychological and emotional stress.

Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, etc. can be prescribed as exercises. The third phase will involve the identification of targeted memories and their physical symptoms that are causing stress. For example, increased heartbeat, aggression, anxiety, nightmares, sweating are all symptoms of PTSD.

During the last 4 stages of EMDR therapy, our therapist uses different techniques to treat those targeted memories. At the same time, the affected individual is asked to focus on specific negative thoughts and images. The therapist teaches specific eye movements coupled with other bilateral movements. The therapist will then train the patient to cultivate a blank mind and identify random thoughts and feelings, flooding the mind.

Refocusing on that memory or moving to the next memory depends upon how well the patient responds to the EMDR treatment. Over time, the negative feelings associated with EMDR start to fade, and the patient cultivates a more objective view of the situation. The final phase is evaluation, during which both the patient and the psychologist evaluate the progress.

The Advantages of EMDR

EMDR is generally considered a safer treatment of PTSD with lesser side effects than strong prescription drugs used to reduce the effects of trauma. Often, anxiety, insomnia, aggression requires the administration of drugs that have an addictive effect and compromises the nervous system's health. EMDR therapy does not depend upon the overt use of drugs (though few medicines may be prescribed) but rather on attaining a heightened sense of awareness. Though initially, EMDR can provoke lightheadedness and vivid dreams, these effects generally wear off. EMDR will not work in a couple of sessions. It needs a long term approach in cooperation with a trained team of psychologists who have a comprehensive understanding of the nature of trauma and a well-sketched treatment plan.

During the last 4 stages of the EMDR therapy, our therapist uses different techniques to treat those targeted memories while affected individual is asked to focus on specific negative thoughts and images. The therapist teaches specific eye movements coupled with other bilateral movements. The therapist will then train the patient to cultivate a blank mind and try to identify random thoughts and feelings that are flooding the mind. Refocusing on that memory or moving to the next memory depends upon how well the patient responds to the EMDR treatment. Over time, the negative feelings associated with EMDR start to fade and the patient cultivates a more objective view of the situation. The final phase is evaluation during which both the patient and the psychologist evaluates the progress.

The Advantages of EMDR

EMDR is generally considered to be a safer treatment of PTSD with lesser side effects than strong prescription drugs which are used to reduce the effects of trauma. Often, anxiety, insomnia, aggression requires the administration of drugs that have an addictive effect and compromises the health of the nervous system. EMDR therapy does not depend upon the overt use of drugs (though few medicines may be prescribed) but rather on attaining a heightened sense of awareness. Though initially EMDR can provoke light headedness and vivid dreams, these effects generally wear off. EMDR will not work in a couple of sessions…it needs a long term approach in cooperation with a trained team of psychologists who have a comprehensive understanding of the nature of trauma and a well sketched treatment plan.

Author
Dr. Neda Khodaparast Neda Khodaparast, PsyD, QME, is the founder and CEO of The Green Room Psychological Services Inc. in San Diego, California. Dr. Khodaparast earned her doctorate from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in Boston. She has over 15 years in clinical practice providing individual and couple therapy, as well as conducting forensic evaluations for personal injuries, civil cases, immigration evaluations, and pre surgical clearance psychological evaluations. She has also been conducting medical-legal worker’s compensation evaluations as a Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) Since 2014. Dr. Khodaparast specializes in utilizing psychodynamic orientation and focuses on treating trauma and PTSD including childhood sexual and physical abuse, sexual assualt’s survivors, war truama, as well as eating disorders, and adoption related issues. She appreciates the complexity of human’s psyche and understands the process and the importance of “meeting the patients where they at.”

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