EMDR: the psychological technique to treat traumatic experiences

EMDR: the psychological technique to treat traumatic experiences

EMDR (eye movement) therapy has a very concrete purpose: to reduce the effect of traumatic experiences.We are undoubtedly confronted with an innovative psychological model that mitigates the impact of negative emotions through bilateral stimulation, ie through the movement of the eyes, different sounds or kinesthetic stimuli such as thetapping.

A treatment based on the movement of the eyes? It is possible that our readers consider this therapeutic point of view with a mixture of curiosity, strangeness and skepticism. However, when we deepen this technique a little, we end up feeling a certain interest.This therapy is relatively new. Even though she did not have the impact we expected, therapists are more and more willing to use it.

The goal of EMDR is to treat past experiences and to resolve the associated emotions. Negative thoughts and feelings that are no longer useful are replaced by positive thoughts and feelings to develop healthier behavior.

This technique was developed in the 1980s by Francine Shapiro, a neurologist and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist.The goal of this doctor from the Palo Alto Mental Health Institute in California was to provide a specific technique for the treatment of post-traumatic stress. According to her, there was no concrete strategy to help patients reduce the impact of the trauma or the effect it had on their brain, their behavior or their way of bonding.

Thus, Shapiro has studied the most advanced processes to shape a clinical strategy as innovative as it is controversial for many psychiatrists. However, she points it out herself:a single session is sufficient to evaluate its effects.

Objectives of EMDR therapy

The goal of EMDR therapy or desensitization and reprocessing by eye movements is multiple. On the one hand, it seeks to identify the specific problem that the patient is suffering from. From there and through a series of techniques,the therapist will help to treat these traumatic experiences to diminish and resolve the emotions associated with these facts.

Negative thoughts and feelings will be replaced by more integrating ones.The goal is essentially to help each person better manage their own internal realities. Thus, it can give shape to healthier behaviors.

It should be emphasized that EMDR therapy does not focus exclusively on the treatment of traumatic events (assaults, losses, effects of wars, etc.).In recent years, it has proved its effectiveness in various fields.Here they are:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • phobias
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Eating disorders
  • Addictions

The technique of EMDR has a very clear purpose. It's about focusing on each patient in a particular way. To find this healing mechanism inherent to each person. Not all cases are alike. All people do not react in the same way to the techniques.

So once we have identified the most appropriate strategy for each case,a system of sensory stimulation is set up that allows the brain to deal with these opposing emotions and thoughts.But let's study in more detail how this technique works.

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy can last from three sessions to two months. It all depends on the impact of the trauma, phobia or psychological disorder that the patient suffers.This type of approach is based on the correct training of the therapist in this technique.Because we are not talking only about a person who moves his fingers so that the patient follows them with his eyes.

EMDR is based on a larger number of strategies. It is based on dynamics that require the skill, intelligence and intuition of the good professional who knows how to guide his patient to lead to a true adaptive resolution. The goal is to reduce negative symptoms. To promote a change of beliefs. To make sure that the person is able to live better everyday.

Phases of the intervention:

  • Personal history and treatment planning
  • Preparation. We seek to establish trust with the patient and explain to him what will be the treatment
  • Evaluation. We identify emotions and negative feelings
  • Technical desensitization of eye movement
  • Installation. When we must replace negative thoughts and emotions with others that are more integrative and positive.
  • Body scanner.We try to evaluate if the patient can remember the trauma without feeling negative feelings
  • End of the session and re-evaluation

Techniques used during treatment

The EMDR has actually borrowed several models, approaches and techniques to erect its treatment.In its psychotherapeutic tissue, this technique integrates cognitive, humanistic, behavioral psychology and bio-information processing. The most characteristic is undoubtedly the bilateral stimulation, which focuses on different foci:

  • Visual:the therapist moves his finger in front of a patient for him to follow him. These fast eye movements are said to loosen "nodes" in memory. Nodes where the opposing emotions are concentrated. Some have suggested that this strategy mimics REM or paradoxical sleep (since this sleep cycle allows us to "clean up" diurnal experiences and memories). Others think that alternating attention from right and left leads the two cerebral hemispheres to greater balance.
  • Auditive:the therapist applies certain sounds to the patient's ears to generate calm or a concrete emotional state.
  • Kinesthetic (tapping):in this case, the therapist gently taps the patient's hands or shoulders. By doing this, he seeks to reduce the tension and impact of negative emotions

To conclude, it is possible that this type of therapeutic intervention continues to attract our attention (and to feed some doubts).Some describe it as a pseudo-science. Others say that its methodology lacks a little clarity.

Nevertheless,she enjoys great transcendence in the United States. According to Shapiro, she has already helped more than two million people.EMDR is an alternative with lasting results in many cases. Therefore, it is worth taking into account. Be that as it may, it is always good to have more resources to address the impact of adverse events on humans.

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