EMDR Therapy | Dayton, OH
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and PTSD symptoms. Ongoing research supports positive clinical outcomes showing EMDR therapy as a helpful treatment for trauma and disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD, chronic pain, addictions, and other distressing life experiences.
What can I expect while undergoing EMDR?
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What does EMDR Therapy with me look like? I’m glad you asked!
Although there are 8 Phases in EMDR Therapy (History Taking, Preparation/Stabilization, Assessment, Desensitization, Reprocessing, Closure and Reevaluation) our work together will look more like this:
1. Getting to know you! (I.E. Phase 1)
I am thrilled you chose me to walk alongside you during this time. In this phase I’d like you to tell me about you. Who are the people closest to you and who you rely on, whether family or friends. What things do you enjoy in your spare time and what does fun look like for you? We will talk about your goals and what you hope to gain at the completion of therapy. We will chat about previous therapy or what you’ve already tried to feel better and you can tell me what worked and what challenges you still face.
2. We will discover the right “tools” for you. (I.E. Phase 2)
No, not hammers and buzz saws. We will look at the things that help you feel better when you are feel stressed, or if you’re facing a difficult memory, or maybe you’re having a challenging day. We will work together to find coping skills especially suited for your difficult moments.
3. We will explore your “story” together. (More Phase 1)
We start with early life and childhood, as it forms how you see the world and how you see yourself. Then we run through the important events in your life as if they were on a timeline or chapters in a book. We consider how they impact you in the present. This helps us pinpoint what we want to focus on in the processing phase. It could be things from the past, stuff you are dealing with today, or worries about the future.
4. We will begin the desensitization and reprocessing with EMDR (Phases 3-6)
EMDR helps you digest overwhelming experiences that have been stuck and haven’t allowed you to move forward. I will guide you to notice the feelings, beliefs, body sensations, and images associated with a difficult experience. Applying bilateral brain stimulation allows the brain to process this experience in a deeper way. When processing is complete, you will remember the situation but no longer feel the intense emotions about it.
5. We reflect on the experience and close the session. (Phases 7-8)
We will look back on our work together. Reflect on the process and what has been most meaningful to you. Check in to see if we accomplished everything you had hoped for. Celebrate all your hard work and breakthroughs!
What is bilateral stimulation?
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Bilateral stimulation (BLS) refers to the use of a stimulus that is presented to both sides of the body. BLS is a key component of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). During EMDR Therapy, an individual uses BLS while attending to distressing material, such as a traumatic memory or uncomfortable body sensation. The primary forms of BLS are eye movements (EMs), tactile and audio.
Numerous hypotheses exist for why BLS works. Many studies have shown benefits from BLS, including facilitation of memory processing and inducing a relaxation response.
- Eye movements are guided by a visual stimulus, such as a dot moving across a person’s visual space. Studies have demonstrated that EMs facilitate decreased vividness of memories and thoughts, decreased emotional response to a memory, enhancement of the parasympathetic system, and increased cognitive flexibility. One hypothesis for these effects is that lateralized eye movements suppress the fear response in the brain. EMs are thought to facilitate memory processing by uncoupling the distressing emotions of traumatic memories.
- Tappers or buzzers provide a tactile form of BLS using an alternating buzzing sensation. TouchPoints are one form of alternating somatosensory stimulation that can be worn on the wrists or other parts of the body. A randomized control study of these particular BLS found a significant reduction in the body’s stress response within 30 seconds of usage.
- Audio BLS provides an alternating sound, normally through headphones, to the ears. There is less research supporting audio BLS; however, case studies and anecdotes from clinical experience have demonstrated the effectiveness of audio BLS for many people.
- Manually tapping using one’s own hands to each side of the body simulates BLS. The butterfly hug is one way of manual tapping where you cross your arms and tap on the sides of your arms. This is a popular BLS to use with children. Also, the butterfly hug can be self-administered outside of EMDR therapy sessions. Manual tapping can be akin to the soothing feeling of rocking or swaying back and forth.
BLS is thought to facilitate the processing of distressing psychological experiences by reducing emotional overactivation. Studies have found a simultaneous activation of the limbic areas responsible for emotional processing and the prefrontal cortex associated with higher-level thought functions.