Is EMDR Therapy Proven to Help PTSD?
EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is a type of trauma-focused psychotherapy invented by Francine Shapiro. EMDR has been growing in popularity in recent years and helps the client reprocess traumatic memories. EMDR has been shown to be effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and there is evidence that it may also be effective in treating other disorders, such as anxiety disorders, depression, psychopathology, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.
It is recommended by many organizations, including:
- The World Health Organization
- The American Psychiatric Association
- The American Psychological Association
- The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
- The Department of Veterans Affairs
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What Is the Goal of EMDR?
That is, to help adults, adolescents and children process and heal from psychological trauma and reduce PTSD symptoms. It can also be used for memory retrieval and the reduction of suicidal ideation. During EMDR therapy, the therapist will guide the client through a series of REM, or rapid eye movements, while the client simultaneously recalls the details of their trauma. This process is thought to help the brain process the trauma in a healthier way.
Alternatives to EMDR include:
- Exposure therapy, also known as in vivo exposure or imaginal exposure
- Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as cognitive behavior therapy or CBT
How Does EMDR Therapy Work?
EMDR treatment is based on the idea that when we experience a traumatic event, our brain does not process the information in the same way it does for non-traumatic events. This can lead to the development of negative beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. EMDR therapy uses a specific type of eye movement to help the brain reduce the vividness of these experiences.
What Is the EMDR Process?
During an EMDR session, the therapist will guide the client’s eyes back and forth while they think about the traumatic event. This mechanism of action is thought to help the brain reprocess the information in a better way, thus having a positive effect on trauma memory. The therapist may also use other forms of dual attention stimulation, such as tapping, tactile stimuli, or auditory tones, to improve the working memory of the traumatic event.
What Is Adaptive Information Processing?
When a person experiences a traumatic event, memories of the event can become stuck in the brain in an unprocessed state. This can lead to difficulties in rational thinking and information processing, as well as negative emotions and behaviors. The adaptive information processing (AIP) model proposes that EMDR therapy can help process these memories by stimulating the brain in a way that allows for new, adaptive information processing to take place.
What Are the Benefits of EMDR?
Unlike traditional talk therapy, EMDR does not require patients to relive their trauma in order to process it. Instead, EMDR uses eye movements and other bilateral stimulation to help the brain reprocess memories and reduce the intensity of negative emotions. EMDR is an effective treatment for trauma, with patients reporting significant reductions in symptoms after just a few sessions. In addition to reducing the symptoms of PTSD, EMDR has also been shown to improve sleep quality, decrease anxiety, and increase self-esteem. As a result, EMDR can be an extremely helpful tool for those struggling to recover from trauma.
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Is EMDR a Proven Treatment?
There is some debate as to whether EMDR is an effective treatment for other types of mental disorders. However, in the treatment of PTSD symptoms, randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses have shown EMDR therapy to be more effective than other forms of therapy. It has also proved to be effective across cultures. More research is needed to determine the efficacy of EMDR for various mental disorders.
Why Is EMDR So Controversial?
The reasons someone might think EMDR is a controversial therapy option are the potential adverse side effects and the lack of long-term research. EMDR is safe and effective, but there are some risks associated with the therapy. These risks include feeling more emotionally distraught after the session, reliving the trauma, and having flashbacks or nightmares. While these side effects are typically short-lived, they can be difficult to manage in the moment.
EMDR is also a relatively new clinical practice, so there is not a lot of long-term data to support its efficacy. However, the research that does exist is promising, and many people have found EMDR to be a helpful treatment for their trauma. Also, practice guidelines and the Journal of EMDR Practice and Research are excellent resources for the responsible use of EMDR.
What Is the Success Rate of EMDR?
One of the most common questions people ask about EMDR is whether it actually works. The short answer is that EMDR is a highly effective treatment for trauma and other psychological dysfunction. However, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone responds differently to treatment, and there is no “cure” for trauma.
That said, systematic reviews and controlled study experiments rate the success rate of EMDR as very high, and many people who undergo treatment find their symptoms improve significantly. For example, research shows EMDR to be 80% successful in the reduction of pain sensations.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of EMDR Therapy?
As the use of EMDR therapy becomes more widespread, it is important to consider the long-term effects of this treatment. While EMDR has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD and other anxiety disorders in the short-term, little is known about its long-term effects.
EMDR may lead to lasting changes in the brain.
It is also unclear whether the benefits of EMDR are maintained over time or if patients need to continue receiving therapy to maintain their gains.
Despite these unanswered questions, EMDR remains a promising treatment for PTSD and other conditions. With further psychiatry and psychotherapy research, we may better understand the long-term effects of this therapy and how it can best be used to help people achieve lasting recovery.
If you’re considering EMDR for yourself or a loved one, it’s definitely worth talking to a qualified therapist to see if it might be right for you. Zinnia Health’s goal is to help our clients heal their minds, bodies, and spirits. We believe that when all three are in balance, our clients can lead happy and fulfilling lives. We offer a safe and supportive environment where our clients can feel comfortable exploring their issues and working toward recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health issues, please call (855) 430-9439. Our clinicians would be honored to help you on your journey to wellness.