Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy represents a highly recommended type of therapy for treating the symptoms of several mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. EMDR therapy also is widely recognized for treating the symptoms that develop because of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Several renowned organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, have endorsed EMDR therapy as an effective therapy for helping patients deal with the often debilitating symptoms of PTSD.
Overview of EMDR
EMDR therapy takes a unique approach to help PTSD patients overcome acute anxiety by leveraging the mechanisms in the brain that form the natural process of mental healing. This type of psychological therapy blends the techniques used for other therapy services, including somatic therapy, behavioral therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. However, EMDR therapy differs from the other types of therapies because it uses dual attention stimuli (DAS) to encourage the desensitization of traumatic events.
Why is EMDR Therapy Helpful for PTSD Patients?
EMDR therapy works for treating the often-debilitating symptoms of PTSD by concentrating its techniques on the center of the brain, which processes traumatic events and the triggers that rekindle the traumatic events in the minds of patients.
Therapists implement EMDR therapy techniques to accomplish several goals. First, desensitizing past horrific events helps reduce the power of the triggers that redevelop painful memories. Second, this type of therapy teaches the brain how to process information in the moment, as opposed to processing information that connects with a past traumatic event. In essence, EMDR therapy tells the brain the past traumatic event is over and it has no relevance to the unfolding of future events.
Firing up the upper cortex of the brain that carries out the rational thought processes allows the brain to reflect on past events much more accurately. This enables a PTSD patient to reflect on a traumatic past event more objectively instead of irrationally creating false cognitive assessments. EMDR therapy reduces the clarity that triggers bad memories, which helps a PTSD patient reduce the intensity experienced from going through a past traumatic event. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is also referred to as “rest and digest,” the body returns to a stable state that fosters a much greater feeling of ease. The result is a neutral to positive outlook that puts most, if not all of the past behind a PTSD patient.
EMDR Therapy and the Road to Recovery
PTSD can consume the lives of the victims that have gone through highly traumatic events, such as law enforcement officers, victims of violent crime, and former members of the military. As an alternative to talk therapy, EMDR therapy does not rely on conversations and/or medications to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD. The alternative to talk therapy controls a patient’s rapid eye movements to decrease the impact of past emotionally charged traumatic events. EMDR therapy can be an integral part of an individual adult therapy plan.