Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has proved to be very effective with the treatment of trauma. EMDR therapy is known to help facilitate the accessing and processing of traumatic memories to an adaptive resolution. This form of therapy involves eye movements, sounds, and repetitive motions to help a person process and come to terms with a traumatic event.

During EMDR, patients are asked to recall traumatic memories while they focus on external stimulus. This is typically when the therapist will ask for them to focus on their fingers while they move horizontally – the eye movement is supposed to help the person relearn new emotional responses to these negative memories. According to the EMDR Institute, there are three main protocols typically followed by therapists using EMDR: 1) past events that lay the groundwork for dysfunction are processed, providing the person with new adaptive information, 2) current circumstances that bring the person distress are targeted, helping the person desensitize themselves to both internal and external triggers, and 3) fear of imaged future events are incorporated to assist the person with acquiring the skills needed to overcome these triggers.

According to Psych Central, EMDR therapy works because it helps people reprocess negative memories from the past. The brain contains an information processing system that typically helps us process events and then releases the negative emotions that came with those events. However, if there is something particularly disturbing that happens to us, our brain’s information processing system becomes disrupted and we retain the negative memory along with the emotions, physical sensations, and beliefs surrounding that event. In this way, our memory of that event may not get processed appropriately and sounds, smells, images – can all become present to us.

In the March/April 2010 issue for Social Work Today, it is noted that EMDR therapy combines psychoanalysis, body sensations, and psychotherapy all at once, which helps people work through traumatic memories more quickly. With EMDR, we can more accurately process negative experiences and move them to the past, so that we can move forward with the future and not allow that negative experience to disrupt our lives. If you have suffered from trauma before, or are experiencing PTSD, EMDR therapy could be a great tool for you to use. The first step is to speak with a therapist who specializes in this. By doing this, you are taking action towards your health and recovery.

Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery. For information call us today: 888-316-3665


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