Conquer your fears with EMDR Therapy
It is a psychotherapy approach that provides effective and fast results in post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, depression and phobias. It is used in the treatment of psychological problems by reducing the effects of past or present traumas. It is not a hypnotic process, the person is conscious and self-conscious while working on these traumatic memories. It can be used in all age groups.
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What is Emdr?
EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) or “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy” is a psychotherapy method used in the treatment of disorders that have emerged as a result of bad, disturbing life experiences of individuals.
EMDR therapy, which is an effective therapy method in the treatment of emotional problems and intellectual and behavioral problems that arise after bad experiences, is based on the stimulation of the two hemispheres of the brain as a result of individuals moving their eyes to the right and left. As a result of stimulating the two hemispheres with eye movements, it is possible to focus on the disturbing emotions, thoughts and behaviors in individuals. With EMDR therapy, it is possible to eliminate disturbances, problematic emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
EMDR therapy leads to the reprocessing of bad memories and information about experiences that have taken place in the mind. Thus, it is possible to determine what the bad and disturbing memories are in individuals, what the disturbances caused by these memories are, why they are caused, and it is possible to change the bad memories by reprocessing the information. In EMDR therapy, it is argued that the disorders, problematic emotions and thoughts that individuals have are caused by bad memories experienced in the past and it is stated that the disorders can be eliminated by changing these memories.
How was EMDR developed?
EMDR therapy emerged in 1987 when American psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro discovered by chance that eye movements could reduce the impact of disturbing thoughts. Shapiro examined this serendipitous discovery on people who had experienced traumatic events in the past and published her scientific studies after seeing that it was successful. After its emergence, EMDR therapy has been developed by researchers and therapists to attain its current form and function. Today, EMDR therapy is used all over the world as an effective therapy method that includes many different therapy schools.
What is the Basis of EMDR Therapy?
In order to understand how EMDR therapy works, it is first necessary to understand how information is processed and stored in the brain according to the “Adaptive Information Processing” model, which forms the basis of EMDR therapy. According to this model, with each new experience that individuals have, the brain processes the information and makes it available for use. Information such as emotions, thoughts, sounds and smells that enter the brain with these experiences are processed in the brain and integrated in the brain by connecting to memory networks. Thus, learning about these experiences takes place. The information that is functionalized and learned in the brain is stored in the brain to be used at any time in the future.
According to the Adaptive Information Processing Model, traumatic events experienced by individuals do not process information correctly in the brain. The information obtained as a result of traumatic experiences cannot be processed and utilized in the brain and cannot be included in the memory networks in the brain. Since this information cannot be connected to memory networks and made meaningful, learning cannot be realized. Information about traumatic experiences is stored in the form of emotions, thoughts, sounds, smells, sensations as they were first received. This leads to unhealthy results and psychological problems. If the information acquired from traumatic events and preserved as it was on the first day is triggered by a situation experienced by individuals, it is as if individuals relive the bad moment they experienced.
How Does EMDR Therapy Work?
In EMDR therapy, clients are given bidirectional stimulation to try to reach the bad memories in the mind. The bidirectional stimuli can be given in the form of eye movements, auditory stimuli or tactile stimuli. Stimulation is the basis of the therapy. Thanks to these stimuli given to the brain, a transition between the two hemispheres of the brain is provided and the memories that have taken place in the brain as a result of bad experiences are accessed much more easily. After the process of accessing bad memories, the process of replacing these memories with positive ones takes place. Thus, the information that individuals feel safe and think that they are strong will be revealed.
How is EMDR therapy applied?
EMDR therapy is a therapy method applied while the clients are conscious. The first step in the therapy process is for individuals to visualize a memory that carries negative traces in their minds and bidirectional stimuli are given. These stimuli are sent in the form of moving the eyes left and right, giving sound through headphones or touching the clients’ hands by vibrating them. With the memory visualized in the mind and the stimuli given, the focus is on which emotions the individuals feel. The next step is to reprocess the memories and replace them with positive information. In this way, individuals’ disorders are treated and they are prevented from having problems with these disorders in the future.
EMDR Therapy Stages
EMDR therapy goes through certain stages. These are questioning the client’s history, preparation phase, assessment phase, desensitization, placement phase, body scanning, closure and reassessment.
- Questioning the client’s history: In the first stage of the therapy, the source of the client’s problems and future goals after the therapy process are determined and a therapy plan is created by the therapist.
- Preparation: In this stage, clients are informed about the therapy and the stages of therapy are explained to the clients. Thus, the client is made ready for the therapy process.
- Assessment: In the assessment phase, the therapist tries to determine the client’s beliefs and feelings about the target memory and to understand the client’s desire to turn this memory into a positive one.
- Desensitization: In this stage, the client first focuses on the traumatic memory and reveals his/her thoughts and feelings about that memory. Then the client realizes what this memory is doing to his/her mind and body and releases his/her mind. While all this is happening, the therapist’s finger controls the client’s movements and the client follows the therapist with his/her eyes. Thus, both hemispheres of the mind are activated.
- The processes up to the desensitization stage continue in the same way until the impact of the memories on the person is lessened and more positive thoughts about the memory emerge. The client is guided by the therapist during these sessions, the therapist is in a guiding position here. The therapy process then continues with the restructuring stages.
- Insertion: Insertion work is applied in order to reinforce the positive thoughts and beliefs formed on the memories of the clients.
- Body scanning: Body scanning is done to check whether there is anything that the client feels uncomfortable about the memory while the therapy process continues.
- Closing: At this stage, the therapist gives feedback to the client about the therapy process. Some techniques are emphasized and practiced for the client to relax. The therapist explains to the client what will happen after the treatment process and asks the client to give feedback by taking notes about possible reactions.
- Re-assessment: Re-assessment is used to check whether the treatment process has achieved its goal. The therapist asks the client to give feedback on the notes they have taken and evaluate them. If negative results continue to emerge after the evaluation process, the therapy is continued. If positive results are obtained, other memories can be worked on.
At the end of the therapy stages, the impact of traumatic memories of the past on current feelings, thoughts and behaviors is largely lost. With the reassessment phase, it is checked whether this change is permanent and the change is reinforced. Thus, the future part of the therapy process is initiated. In the future-related part, the negative reactions of individuals as a result of their traumatic memories are turned into positive ones.
At this stage, the therapist tells the client to identify the behaviors and emotions they desire and scenarios are created in which these emotions and thoughts are included. The client experiences these scenarios in his/her mind and it is decided whether there is a problem with these scenarios. If there is no problem, the client is ready to cope with the memories that lead to negative behaviors. If there is a problem, it is worked on eliminating these problems and gaining new information.
How long does EMDR take?
The number of sessions of EMDR therapy varies depending on the client and variables such as the extent of the discomfort he/she is experiencing and the extent of the traumatic memories that cause this discomfort. While EMDR therapy can show its effect in a very short time in some cases, it takes much longer in some cases depending on the experiences of the clients. In this therapy method, sometimes progress can be made even in a single session.
It is recommended to have a minimum of 3 sessions for EMDR therapy. The reason for this is that it is healthier to resolve and process the feelings and thoughts of the clients in 3 sessions. EMDR therapy can last up to 8-10 sessions for clients with more challenging disorders. For disorders that require an intensive therapy process such as depression, the number of therapies can be up to 20.
Who is EMDR Therapy Applied to?
EMDR therapy is suitable for individuals of all ages and genders. In addition, in order for EMDR therapy to be applied to children, it is necessary for therapists who have received therapy training specifically to apply it on children to perform this application.
EMDR therapy can be used in the treatment of many psychological and psychosomatic disorders. These disorders are as follows;
- Anxiety disorders
- As a result of events such as harassment, rape, death, torture, accidents
- stress disorder
- Sexual dysfunction
- Eating disorder
- Sleep disturbance
- Chronic pain
- Performance anxiety
Is There a Possibility of Recurrence of Disorders Experienced After EMDR Therapy?
EMDR therapy works on the memories that remain in the minds of individuals as a result of traumatic events. The aim is to eliminate the negative effects and psychological problems caused by these memories. EMDR therapy is not used to forget the bad events experienced. In EMDR therapy, the individual remembers the memories, but is not negatively affected by these memories as before and does not show big, problematic reactions. For this reason, it is possible to say that negative reactions on memories will not reappear after EMDR therapy.
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