You may have heard of the term “EMDR” being used when speaking about mental health issues, particularly trauma. But what does this term mean? How exactly does it work? And is it as effective as experts claim?
We answer all your questions with our comprehensive guide to EMDR therapy.
An overview of EMDR therapy
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a psychotherapy technique that is used to relieve psychological and emotional distress.
Until recent years, treating trauma-related conditions was far more time-consuming and complex. That was until EMDR therapy – a proven technique that is effective in resolving past traumas – was developed in 1987.
How does EMDR therapy work?
The technique is based on the idea that when painful and traumatic memories are not fully processed, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) might result. When these memories are left unprocessed, triggers such as sights, smells, sounds and more, may cause an individual to re-experience the traumatic incident again.
In EMDR therapy, the patient is encouraged to momentarily concentrate on the traumatic memory while simultaneously undergoing bilateral stimulation (usually eye movements). As mentioned earlier, when memories of a distressing incident are left unprocessed, the troubling pictures, thoughts, and feelings may produce an overpowering sensation of being “back in that moment”.
Thus, the bilateral stimulation of the eyes repeatedly engages the brain’s opposing hemispheres, causing emotional memories that have been “caught” or “frozen” in the neurological system to be released. The results are a decrease in the vividness and intensity of the traumatic memories.
Simply put, EMDR therapy aims to eradicate the symptoms of trauma by leading you through a series of bilateral eye movements as you recall and re-live through traumatic events (in small segments) until they no longer cause you any emotional distress.
Who needs EMDR therapy?
EMDR therapy is often advised for individuals who are dealing with overwhelming traumatic memories and PTSD symptoms. Here are some of the conditions that EMDR therapy can help to treat:
- Anxiety (including panic attacks and social anxiety)
- PTSD (which may arise from physical, sexual, emotional abuse, traumatic accidents, witnessing the death of a loved one and more)
- Low self-esteem (which could have manifested into eating disorders and self-harm)
- Childhood traumas
However, these are just some examples of the common conditions that are treated with EMDR therapy, and the list is not just limited to the ones listed above. It would be best to speak to a Singapore certified counsellor and psychotherapist as they would be equipped with the knowledge and expertise to help you in your journey to recovery.
How effective is EMDR therapy?
To answer the question of whether EMDR therapy is truly effective, the answer is definitely yes! In fact, EMDR has been recognised as a successful treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as other conditions by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS).
According to research conducted by the EMDR Institute, over 30 controlled studies on EMDR treatment have demonstrated that its outcomes are beneficial. In several of these studies, 90% of trauma survivors showed no signs of PTSD after just 3 sessions. Moreover, a 2014 study conducted by PubMed Central concluded that EMDR treatment is more effective than cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in treating trauma, and individuals who underwent EMDR therapy are less likely to relapse following the treatment.
EMDR therapy is a proven technique to resolve past traumas. However, because it is a psychotherapy technique, it should only be offered by qualified mental health professionals.
Here at Emotional Wellness, our certified psychotherapist has over 15 years of experience under her belt in providing exemplary therapy services and professional counselling in Singapore.
No matter if you are looking for grief counselling, PTSD therapy, counselling for anxiety problems, anger management therapy, eating disorder and low self-esteem counselling, depression therapy or Singapore youth counselling services, we can help free you from emotional distress and regain control of your life.
We adopt a range of integrative counselling and psychotherapy techniques such as EMDR therapy, gestalt therapy, schema therapy and more to help address, tackle and resolve various issues. Additionally, we have also developed a unique holistic program – the RENEW program – that involves recreating your negative beliefs, thoughts, and values with the use of relevant psychotherapy techniques.
To learn more about our therapy services, feel free to get in touch with us today!