EMDR Trauma Treatment: Healing through Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy was formulated in 1987 by Francine Shapiro and completed a successful clinical trial in 1989 for use as a mental health therapy treatment specifically designed to treat trauma.

EMDR treats mental health episodes caused by memories from past traumatic events.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy is best known for its role in treating (PTSD) post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as treating many other conditions.

How EMDR therapy can help

EMDR therapy is a successful treatment technique for mental health issues that involves utilizing specific eye movements while you process traumatic memories. EMDR’s goal is to promote healing from trauma or other distressing experiences. Comparatively, EMDR is a relatively new form of therapy. From the success of the first clinical trial in 1989 to today, EMDR has been developed and updated to prove that this technique is effective and can help sufferers more effectively than many other treatments.

EMDR therapy helps everyone

EMDR can help people with a broad range of mental health conditions. The treatment suits children, adolescents, teenagers, and adults of all ages. Because EMDR is non-invasive, does not require drugs to be effective, and doesn’t ask the patient to relive a distressing experience, therapists can use it in conjunction with other therapies to help anyone and everyone who needs it.

How EMDR works

The therapy does not focus on changing emotions, thoughts, or behaviors but instead encourages your brain to promote your natural healing process. EMDR works on your mind, the collection of thoughts, beliefs, memories, and experiences that make up your personality, making you who you are.

The way your mind processes relies on the structure of your brain. The structure involves a network of communicating brain cells across many areas (notably the amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamus); they affect your memories and senses. That network works together and gives you your senses – sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels – these senses can bring back strong memories.

It’s these strong memories that trigger trauma; if traumatic memories are not dealt with effectively, they will change a person’s view of the world and those around them.

Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) and EMDR

EMDR was developed from the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, a thesis by Francine Shapiro on how your brain stores memories. The theory works because your brain stores normal and traumatic memories differently.

During everyday events, your brain smoothly stores memories, networking them so they connect to other thoughts or memories. During traumatic events, that network stops working. The brain stops functioning to protect the mind. There’s a disconnect between what you experience (feel, hear, see, and smell) and what your brain stores in memory.

While the brain protects the mind by storing traumatic memories, healthy healing can not happen this way. Trauma is a wound your brain won’t allow to heal, stuffed in a box rotting away, and if it is left that way, it could destroy a healthy and happy mental attitude.

When the brain doesn’t receive the message that the danger is over, recent experiences can link to earlier trauma and reinforce negative experiences, making it impossible to get better.

EMDR repairs while reprocessing

When undergoing EMDR treatment, patients access traumatic memories in a precise way. The therapist will combine eye movements and guided instructions, accessing those memories to help people reprocess what they remember from the adverse event. Reprocessing repairs the mental injury while re-focusing on what happened.

Treating patients this way means they no longer feel like they are reliving the event; if the treatment is successful, patients feel like they are dealing with the situation, and in turn, the related feelings are much more manageable.

Conditions that EMDR treats

While therapists use EMDR to treat PTSD, mental healthcare providers also use it in collaboration with dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat the following conditions:

  • Anxiety disorders: General anxiety disorder, including panic disorder, phobias, and social anxiety or phobia.
  • Depression adversity: Depressive disorders, persistent depressive disorder, and illness-related depression and bipolar.
  • Dissociative adversity: Dissociative identity disorder or amnesia and depersonalization or disconnection disorder.
  • Eating disorders: Anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), body dysmorphia, and hoarding disorder.
  • Personality disorders: Personality disorder (borderline or otherwise), avoidant personality disorder, and disruptive antisocial personalities.
  • Trauma disorders: Acute stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and adjustment difficulty disorder.

Many people who have suffered trauma in one form or another may self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol. The rehabilitation center must tailor effective treatments for alcoholism and drug addiction for the sufferer, and the therapy prescribed will often be a combination of treatments.

The combination may include Individual therapy, group sessions, dual diagnosis treatment, family therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy delivered as an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) or Outpatient Program (OP).

About Lighthouse Support Services

At Lighthouse Support Services, we offer programs for people seeking help recovering from addictions. Each program consists of the same primary treatment methodologies, which rely on various types of therapy and counseling. However, the difference lies in commitment, scale, and intensity. Our effective intensive outpatient program has considerable commitments as a minimum, while our standard outpatient program is more flexible.

Get in touch with us to talk about which therapy and treatment approach is right for you.