EMDR treatment for mental health disorders has become increasingly popular in recent years. This nontraditional psychotherapy method has mostly found its use in resolving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Also, EMDR has lately been used to treat panic disorder and other mental health issues.
What is EMDR?
EMDR or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is atherapeutic approach discovered and developed by American psychologist and educator Francine Shapiro in 1987. As a therapeutic approach, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is also grounded in cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT).
Shapiro originated EMDR method on what appears to be a chance observation. Namely, she noticed that moving her eyes from side to side seemed to reduce the negative memories, thoughts, and disturbance they were causing.
This experience steered Shapiro to examine this phenomenon more systematically. Based on her comprehensive research, EMDR is today recommended as an effective treatment for a post-traumatic stress disorder. One of the distinctive features of EMDR therapy is its focus on disturbing thoughts and emotions that result from a traumatic event rather than on event itself.
EMDR approach helps a person see disturbing experiences in a less upsetting way. That is, the patient recalls a traumatic experience while simultaneously undergoing a bilateral stimulation. Apart from moving eyes from side to side, this stimulation may consist of tapping movements or vibrations on different sides of the body or tones delivered via headphones toboth ears.
When is EMDR used?
Although originally developed to treat the symptoms of PTSD, EMDR has lately been used to treat other mental health conditions and physical illnesses. These include:
• Panic attacks
• Generalized anxiety disorder
• Stress caused by chronic disease
• Headaches and migraine
• Chronic pain
• Sexual dysfunction
• Body dysmorphic disorder
• Eating disorders
• Attachment disorder
• Self-esteem issues
• Mourning and grief
• Exposure to domestic violence
How does EMDR Treatment Look like?
During an EMDR therapeutic session, your therapist will ask you to recall painful thoughts, emotions, or experiences. During the early stages of EMDR therapy, you will discuss your challenges with a therapist. However, you don't have to focus on the details of your traumatic experience(s). Instead, your EMDR therapist will encourage you to concentrate on the disturbing thoughts and feelings. You will then learn techniques to help you manage your distressing emotions.
Furthermore, your therapist will guide you through a process of desensitization - while recalling painful thoughts, memories,and feelings you will follow the back-and-forth movements of your therapist's fingers with your eyes.
The therapist will use his or her hand movements to help you focus on your eyes movement - they will hold up their fingers and move them side-to-side for you to follow. Once the eye movement part of your session is finished, you may discuss the thoughts, feelings, and observations that came to your mind during the session.
The purpose of this method is to help you acknowledge and process your negative feelings and realize that you can let go of some of them. Once you mindfully process your feelings, your EMDR therapist will encourage you to reinforce and strengthen positive beliefs and emotions up to a point where you can evokememories of the traumatic event without experiencing harmful emotions.
EMDR and Reiki
People who experienced EMDR usually say that the bilateral stimulation helps regulate their energy flow, bringing it to a calm state. This helps process the experienced feelings and thoughts with less overwhelming emotional impact.
Reiki calms your body in the same way - it is great at releasing body blockages, so it is successfully used as a complementary method in the treatment of many physical and mental health conditions. Both science and experience have proved that Reiki promotes healing and enhances mental health and physical well-being.
It helps reduce stress and eases the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Furthermore, Reiki boosts mood and spiritual growth, promotes inner peace and harmony and sense of composure and calmness. It also helps achieve emotional clarity and build stronger interpersonal relationships. Finally, this healing touch technique promotes serotonin regulation and a better immune response.
EMDR works with the body in a similar way Reiki does and provokes alike body releases.
Benefits of EMDR
The most common results of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing include:
• Increased relaxation
• A sense of calmness and composure
• Relieving emotional and physical distress
• Improved concentration and better focus
• Improved sleep patterns
• Resolution of chronic pain
• Enhanced personal growth
• Integration of the previous life experiences into the current life context
• Ability to recall trauma without feeling overwhelmed
The main goal of EMDR technique is to completely process trauma or other difficult past experiences and come to terms with emotions involved with those experiences. EMDR strives to replace negative thoughts and emotions with the positive and productive ones that will encourage your personal growth, overall well-being, and positive social interactions. Eventually, EMDR aims to strengthen you to effectively manage stressful situations on your own.