EMDR helps you release trauma so that you can feel happy and whole again. You are instructed to focus on the image, negative thought, and body sensations while simultaneously engaging in EMDR processing using sets of bilateral stimulation through side-to-side eye movements. At this point, I will ask you to simply notice whatever spontaneously happens.
After trauma, people with PTSD often have trouble making sense of what happened to them. EMDR helps you process the trauma, which can allow you to start to heal. In EMDR, you will pay attention to side-to-side eye movements while calling to mind the upsetting memory. You will do this until the way you experience the memory shifts and becomes less distressing.
The EMDR technique uses bilateral stimulation to activate areas of the brain that would not usually be active when processing an experience or memory.
How will you prepare me for the therapy?
During the first stage, you will learn about physical and emotional reactions to trauma. We will discuss how ready you are to focus on your trauma memories in therapy. To prepare, you will learn some new coping skills.
Next, you will identify the "trigger", or the upsetting memory you want to focus on, including any negative thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations related to the memory. You will hold the memory in your mind while also paying attention to a back-and-forth movement; I may use a pen at eye level and move it from left to right or up and down, or a flashing light, or a tone that beeps in one ear at a time until your distress goes down. This will last for about 30 seconds at a time, and then you will talk about what the exercise was like for you.
Eventually, you will focus on a positive belief and feeling while you hold the memory in your mind. Towards the end of treatment, I will re-assess your symptoms to see if you need to process other triggers.
Will I Talk in Detail About My Trauma?
No, in most cases you will not be asked to talk about the details of your trauma out loud. But you will be asked to call your trauma to mind in session.
EMDR usually involves 1-3 months of weekly 60-90 minute sessions. Many people start to notice improvement after a few sessions. And the benefits of EMDR can last long after your final session. For best results, EMDR sessions are given at least once per week, although more or fewer sessions may be given depending on your needs.