The full name of EMDR is Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. In 1987, during a walk, psychologist Francine Shapiro discovered that as her eyes moved from side to side, the disturbing thoughts she was thinking about disappeared. She subsequently conducted a series of empirical studies and demonstrated its effectiveness in treating PTSD symptoms. EMDR is now recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an intervention for treating PTSD. Along with the controversy surrounding this therapy, EMDR continues to evolve through empirical research and clinical observation.
EMDR is a form of psychotherapy that can help people heal from troubling life events and reduce symptoms and emotional disturbance. During the development of EMDR, it evolved from a simple technique to an integrated treatment orientation. Mysterious eye movements are only one form of stimulus information processing used in this system. It can also be replaced by other forms of bilateral attention stimulation such as hearing tones, hand beats, etc.
EMDR therapy believes that our minds can recover from traumatic events, just as our bodies can recover from trauma. For example, a person accidentally sticks a thorn in his hand while working. He feels the pain, so he goes to see where the thorn is, and then tries to pick it out. If the thorn is deeper, he may need to apply more Anti-inflammatory drugs, and then simply wrap the wound to avoid external stimulation and further infection. The wound will heal in a few days. For the mental trauma that brings negative impact to us, it is like this person got a relatively large thorn. He was in pain, but he couldn’t get it out by himself, and he didn’t know who to call for help, so he went to use gauze. I simply wrapped it around, took some painkillers, and continued working. I would come across this pricked spot repeatedly while working, and eventually the spot became inflamed and pus leaked, making me unable to work. EMDR therapy is like a person who has received relevant training and follows a detailed and specific process to help this person start the natural healing process. Therefore, it is different from talk therapy. The insights and understanding gained by the client do not come from the counselor’s explanation, but from the client’s own rational and emotional processing process that is promoted. During the EMDR treatment process, the changes in the client’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors fully demonstrate a person’s natural healing instinct. The realization of all this does not require discussing details or doing other additional work.
So how does EMDR have such miraculous effects?
The Adaptive Information Processing Model can explain. People have an adaptive information processing system. When this system is blocked, abnormal states occur. Therefore, if a traumatic memory is exposed and this system is activated, negative information can be transformed into adaptive information.
This model believes that most mental illnesses arise from a series of maladaptive patterns formed by earlier life experiences, including specific emotions, behaviors, cognitions, and consequent self-perception structures. When experiencing a traumatic event that arouses strong emotions, the internal adaptive information processing system cannot effectively process the information, and the pathological coping mode that has not been fully processed is “condensed” and “blocked” at the moment of the traumatic event. (Forms such as PTSD, phobias, panic disorder, certain depressions, dissociation, etc.)
These early, inadequately processed experiences continue to impact people’s lives today. When encountering the stimulation of specific situations of current life events, the negative cognitions and emotions blocked in memory are awakened, and they guide people to continue to use unadaptive coping methods to deal with the current situation, just like before. Perhaps a person’s response to a troubling event that occurred that year was situational, but if it is not adequately processed, it will become a hindrance to encounter similar situations in the future that still trigger the same emotional feelings and behaviors as before. For example, a child was threatened by an adult and felt scared and helpless. If when he grows up and encounters a similar situation, he still feels the same fear and helplessness as when he was a child, it means that the negative experience back then has not been fully dealt with.
If clinicians can find unprocessed information that is blocked in the nervous system, locate the memories that shape the client’s negative self-concept, and reprocess traumatic memories, they can quickly metabolize remaining disorders from the past and put them to rest. Convert it into something useful. During this process, the client will experience that the beliefs, emotions, and physical sensations that once hit him have changed their form and meaning. They have become beliefs, emotions, and physical sensations that can provide support to him. changes and changes in self-identity.
A case of sexually assaulted
When treating a client who has been sexually assaulted, the therapist will identify the different aspects of the traumatic experience that are troubling to the client. These include, intrusive images; negative perceptions and beliefs about herself or her role in being sexually assaulted; negative emotions such as fear, self-blame, and shame; and physical sensations associated with them. Clients may often have intrusive images of being violated, and may experience negative cognitions such as “I am dirty” and “This is my fault”, accompanied by strong feelings of fear and shame. . After EMDR focuses on specific internal reactions, the victim may be able to recall the event without fear or shame. She may feel empowered and be able to say, “I did a really good job. He was holding the knife.” Threaten me, and I let myself live.” In addition to changes in thoughts and beliefs, flashbacks of intrusive images disappear, and associated thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations become neutral or neutral when the event itself is recalled. positive. As one survivor participating in therapy said, “It was still a disgusting image, but it wasn’t because I had done anything wrong.” In fact, the self-perception she integrated was, “I am a strong, resilient person. of women.
EMDR 8-stage treatment steps:
- Client History and Treatment Planning.
Evaluate whether the client is suitable for EMDR (the client’s own stability and current life stress). If the client is a candidate for this therapy, the counselor will collect comprehensive information from the client to develop a treatment plan, including maladaptive behaviors, symptoms, characteristics that need to be addressed, and specific target memories that need to be reprocessed.
This includes establishing a therapeutic alliance with the client, explaining the process and effects of EMDR, explaining to the client the emotional disturbances that may occur during or after EMDR, explaining the client’s questions and concerns, and ensuring that the client has relaxation techniques to handle stress. , guide the client to complete the designated imagination training until the client can use this technique to eliminate the interference caused by a certain amount of stress. Discuss with the client the issue of secondary gain, that is, what it means to give up or face if this problem is solved.
A memory is selected, and the client will be asked about the image that best represents this memory, the associated maladaptive self-evaluations, and the positive cognitions that are hoped to be used to replace negative cognitions in the future, and then evaluated using the VOC scale Credibility of positive cognitions. The SUD scale was then used to assess the emotional disturbance caused by images and negative self-perceptions. The client will identify the sensations aroused in the body when focusing attention on the event.
This stage will focus on the client’s target memory and negative emotions. The counselor will repeat bilateral attention stimulation, accompanied by appropriate adjustments and changes in focus, until the client’s SUD value is 0 or 1. This indicates that the malfunction involved in the target event has been cleared. However, this does not mean that the reprocessing process is complete. The following steps still need to be performed.
This phase will focus on increasing the strength of positive cognitions that replace negative cognitions about the target event. With bilateral stimulation, the client will feel that the negative cognitions and emotions about the target memory become less and less clear and credible; in contrast, the positive thoughts and emotions become more and more clear and credible.
- Body Scan.
When the previous steps are completed, the client will be asked to scan the whole body from head to toe with the selected target event and the integrated positive cognition. At this time, the physical sensation will be used as the target with bilateral attention stimulation. In most cases the tension is relieved, but in some cases other unaddressed disorders are uncovered and dealt with as a result.
At the end of each session, make sure the client returns to a calm state. In addition, it is good to remind clients that they may be faced with disturbing images, images, thoughts, and emotions that may prompt the need for further processing. Clients are instructed to record negative thoughts, situations, dreams, or other memories and perform relaxation exercises to maintain their stability.
This will be done at each meeting to assess whether the effects achieved by the client are maintained, whether there is information that has not been fully processed or whether new material has emerged. Finally, changes in the client’s family and social systems are assessed and possible problems are discussed.