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EMDR Therapy in Arizona

What is EMDR therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), conducted by the qualified, experienced counselors at Best Damn You in Arizona, is a structured therapeutic approach that has been used to treat various mental health conditions, traumatic experiences, and distressing memories.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is an evidence-based trauma therapy that was developed in the mid-1980s by Francine Shapiro. We use alternating bilateral stimulation when someone has activated a traumatic memory. This sets off a rapid processing effect where what’s been frozen in the trauma network moves out of the nervous system.

EMDR can be used with people who have been through significant crises like war, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and violence. There are also a lot of clinical applications for problems beyond the big traumas, like phobias and anxiety.  It also works for things like pre-verbal and developmental experiences and early childhood traumas like abuse and neglect. EMDR can even address traumas where you don't have explicit memories, but rather, "felt senses" that exist in your body.

an image of a woman's face with her eyes tracking two upheld fingers of her therapist, who appears slightly blurry in the foregrouns

The general EMDR process is as follows:

  1. Preparation: Your Best Damn You therapist begins by conducting a comprehensive assessment of your history, trauma, and current symptoms. They establish a therapeutic relationship and ensure you have adequate coping skills to handle emotional distress. While we never anticipate dysregulation or distress, if necessary, your therapist may teach you relaxation, emotion regulation, and containment techniques or other strategies to help you manage and distress that may arrise during and between the therapy sessions.

  2. Assessment: Your Best Damn You Arizona therapist will partner with you to identify identify specific events, experiences or distressing memories that will be the target of the EMDR session. You will be asked to bring to mind an image related to the memory, the associated distorted, negative belief about yourself, and the emotions and physical sensations associated with the memory.

  3. Desensitization: You will be asked to hold the traumatic memory or sensation in mind, like watching a movie or television show, while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation can be achieved through eye movements, where you will follow the therapist’s fingers moving back and forth horizontally, a "ball" moving across your screen (via an online interactive app). or through other methods such as auditory tones or self-tapping. The bilateral stimulation is believed to facilitate the processing of the traumatic memory by stimulating both hemispheres of the brain.

  4. Reprocessing: As you focus on the traumatic memory or sensation and engage in bilateral stimulation, your thoughts and emotions are allowed to flow freely. Your experienced Best Damn You therapist will not direct the content of your thoughts but rather encourage you to notice any spontaneous associations, thoughts, images, or insights that arise during the process. Often, it isn't even necessary for you to share the details of these thoughts, images, emotions or insights - your experineced EMDR therapist knows that your mind will lead you to exactly what you need in order to heal. The goal of this reprocessing stage is to promote the integration of new information and adaptive beliefs that can replace the negative beliefs associated with the traumatic experiences.

  5. Installation: Once the distress related to the targeted memory or sensation decreases significantly, your Best Damn You therapist will help you install positive beliefs or self-statements that are more adaptive and accurate. These positive beliefs serve to counter the negative beliefs that were previously associated with the memory.

  6. Body Scan: Your Best Damn You therapist will guide you through checking your body for any residual tension or discomfort related to the memory. If any physical sensations are present, additional desensitization sets may be performed until the distress is fully resolved.

  7. Closure: Your Best Damn You EMDR therapist will support you at a pace and tempo that is comfortable and very tolerable. This appoach reduces the likelihood of between sesison dysregulation, but just in case, at the end of each session, your Best Damn You. therapist will ensure that you are in a stable emotional state and provide appropriate grounding techniques or coping strategies to help you manage any residual distress that may arise outside of therapy.

  8. Reevaluation: In subsequent sessions, your Best Damn You therapist will reassesses the progress made and in partnership with you will determine if there are any new targets that need to be addressed. The process of desensitization, reprocessing, and installation will be repeated for each target until you achieve a significant reduction in distress and the traumatic memories become less disruptive.

During EMDR sessions you will have thoughts and feelings and body sensations and move through them. At the end of your session, you’ll have a sense that what was once distressing now feels like it's in the past. You will then have a more global view and understanding of what happened, and it will no longer feel like it's happening in the present, which is how people experience traumatic memories. Our experienced EMDR therapists at Best Damn You often say that while EMDR will not erase the distressing experiences, but that those experiences will no longer have the emotional charge or "gut punch" they once held for you.

The specific techniques and approaches may vary depending on your Best Damn You therapist and the your needs. EMDR therapy typically requires multiple sessions to address different targets or traumatic memories comprehensively.

Is EMDR therapy evidence-based?

There are many peer-reviewed studies highlight the effectiveness of EMDR. Here are a few that maybe of interest if you're considering engaging in EMDR with your experienced Best Damn You EMDR therapist.

There is a substantial body of research on EMDR, including numerous randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses. These studies represent just a small sample of the available literature supporting the efficacy of EMDR as a therapy for PTSD.

If you are interested in learning how the experienced EMDR therapists at Best Damn You might be able to help you with EMDR, please click one of the buttons below for a free consultation!

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