An unconventional type of psychotherapy, Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has gradually become popular for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that occurs as a result of military combat, physical assault, molestation and rape, and accidents. However, health care professionals still don’t agree with the authenticity of EMDR.
What is EMDR therapy and how does it work?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy is an effective psychotherapy technique that helps to relieve stress. The psychotherapy treatment was originally developed to alleviate the distress caused due to trauma.
What Is EMDR
EMDR does not rely on talk therapy or medicines to treat psychological disorders. In fact, EMDR uses a patient’s rapid rhythmic eye movements to release him from the disturbing memories of past traumatic events in a 90-minute session. During an EMDR treatment session, the therapist while moving his or her fingers back and forth in front of the patient’s face asks him to recall the disturbing or traumatic experiences of the past. The patient follows hand motions with his eyes as he feels the emotions and body sensations that come alive as he revives his traumatic past.
The therapist then guides the patient to shift his thoughts from the painful past to more pleasant memories. Some therapists may use finger movements, hand or toe-tapping or musical tones instead of hand movements.
How EMDR Works:
EMDR has proven to be effective in lowering the stress level, disables the disturbing memories and weakens the effect of negative emotions. Other than treating PTSD, EMDR is sometimes used to treat some other psychological problems like:
There is no scientific proof to tell how EMDR therapy works, only theories exist.
EMDR reduces anxiety and helps the patient to take control of their disturbing thoughts.
Theories say that EMDR lowers the stress level by diverting the attention from the emotional consequences of the recalled traumatic experience to the happier ones. In that respect, EMDR shares some basic principles with prolonged exposure therapy, the gold standard behavioral psychotherapeutic treatment of PTSD.
Still Not Fully Accepted By The Medical World
EMDR is a very safe therapy that comes with no negative side effects. But despite its increasing popularity, mental health practitioners still don’t consider EMDR as any serious and effective therapy. They argue that EMDR is yet to prove its effectiveness as previous studies have involved only small numbers of participants. However, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) recommends EMDR for treating symptoms of chronic PTSD whereas The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense has also strongly recommended EMDR for the treatment of PTSD in both military and non-military populations.
The sustainability of the EMDR treatment, in the long run, is not yet proved.