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Treatment methods

EMDR trauma treatment

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an established trauma processing psychotherapy method developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, which significantly improves the treatment of traumatized people. The effectiveness of EMDR in trauma therapy has been scientifically confirmed. Originally, EMDR was used in the processing of traumatic experiences. In the meantime, the method is used for trauma management as well as for phobias, anxiety and self-esteem disorders, panic attacks, depression, burnout, personality disorders, attachment disorders, chronic pain and to support mourning processes as well as performance blockages.

How does the treatment with EMDR proceed?

In the therapeutic conversation, the specific problem is ascertained, the needs are clarified and an individual treatment plan is created. EMDR treatment involves a clearly structured process. Before the actual process, methods are used to stabilize and strengthen the client, and a sign is agreed upon with which the client can stop the processing at any time if the stress should become too great. The main working principle of EMDR treatment is bilateral hemisphere stimulation, which means that there is alternating stimulation of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This is achieved either by tactile stimuli, such as short touches; acoustic signals or visually by rapid eye movements. The bilateral stimulation causes a synchronous cooperation of both brain hemispheres. Thus, a better processing and integration of traumatic experiences can be achieved. This makes it possible to approach the triggering event without being flooded by the stressful feelings.

Effect of EMDR therapy

We store normal experiences in memory by sorting them and linking them to previous contents. Trauma, on the other hand, is presumably not sorted normally, but stored separately along with all the sensory impressions and thoughts that go with it. Later, anything that reminds the person of the trauma - a loud bang, a smell, a touch - can cause the person to feel that he or she is reliving the situation. Fear, helplessness, and physical reactions such as shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat result. Treatments that focus on psychological conversation help to understand what happened, but the event remains stored in the brain in such a way that it continues to trigger the unpleasant feelings and body symptoms. The goal of EMDR therapy is therefore to sort the memory of the trauma into the memory like a normal memory. Affected persons should no longer feel defencelessly transported back into the situation, but should be able to perceive and endure the memories normally following trauma treatment - without unpleasant feelings and body symptoms being triggered.

Is EMDR really effective?

The effectiveness of EMDR has already been proven by numerous studies. Research shows that 80 percent of patients with simple post-traumatic stress disorder feel significantly relieved after just a few EMDR sessions. According to the research, the use of EMDR is said to achieve the same treatment effects as other treatment methods, in less than half the treatment hours.

Self-experience EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

During my psychology internship I had the opportunity to participate in a treatment with EMDR. Since I had only heard about EMDR before, I was very happy to be able to experience it for myself. The EMDR method traces physical symptoms back to stressful and insufficiently processed memories. Through alternating bilateral stimulation with eye movements, the information processing system of the brain is activated and the stressful memory is reprocessed.

The treatment began with an anamnesis conversation, in which I described my problem. The subject of my treatment was a very painful visit to the dentist, because the mere thought of ever getting an injection or visiting a dentist again triggered fear in me and my heart began to race. We began with the treatment, whereby I first had to put myself back into the situation that was stressful for me. At this, I initially rated my stress at 8 out of a total of 10 points, which is quite high, because 10 is the highest stress level. During the first back and forth movement of the eyes, the situation seemed very present to me and I also noticed a faster heartbeat inside me. But after a short time I could see how I could distance myself (inwardly) from the situation at the dentist's chair and instead other, positive memories came to my mind. I was amazed at the images and memories that came to mind and how quickly they changed in my mind's eye. After each stimulation, I noticed how the event receded into the background for me and lost its painful value. Finally we arrived at a stress level of 1.

I was admittedly very surprised what could be achieved within such a short time with this very simple method. I will also come back to EMDR for future problems of various kinds. If you are open to new things and looking for an effective treatment that brings results in a short time, you should definitely try the EMDR method yourself!

Pamina H., 2021
Certificates - emdria EMDR International Association
Certificates - EMDR Europe Association

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