EMDR therapy consists of 8 phases applied to each issue to be addressed: History-gathering, Preparation, Assessment, Desensitization, Installing Positive Cognition, Body Scan, Debriefing, and Reassessment. Based on assessment and discussion with the client, therapists often use EMDR therapy for the following issues:
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Complicated Grief
- Sleep Disturbances
- Life Transitions and Loss
- Resistant Depression
- Bipolar Mood Swings
- Anxiety or Panic Attacks
- Fears or Phobias
- Sexual Assault
- Violence and abuse
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Eating Disorders
Our brains have a natural way to recover from traumatic memories and events. This process involves communication between the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (which assists with learning, including memories about safety and danger), and the prefrontal cortex (which analyzes and controls behavior and emotion). While many times traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously, they may not be processed without help.
Stress responses are part of our natural fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create feelings of overwhelm, of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.