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What Is EMDR Therapy for Trauma and PTSD?

Letter blocks over a wooden table forming the word EMDR and each word meaning.

One in five Canadians will have a mental illness at one point in their life. Some will have chronic issues, while others will experience acute trauma, receive treatment, and get better.

Mental illnesses are some of the deadliest medical conditions that exist, and treatment for them can be literally life-saving. One of those treatment methods is called EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing.

If you're looking for something that isn't just talk therapy, want to add to your therapy sessions, or are asking, "what is EMDR therapy?" you're in the right place.

We're getting into the details below.

Eye Movement Desensitisation And Reprocessing (EMDR) Basics

Our brains have three main parts and twelve different structures. Those structures include the different lobes, the brain stem, along with the hippocampus and amygdala.

To understand EDMR trauma therapy, you have to understand the role those last two play in the brain. Simply put, those structures are highly involved in both memory and emotional processing. The hippocampus and amygdala work together to process emotions and memories (in a perfect brain), then store them in long-term memory.

But in a brain impacted by depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, or other events, these memories get "stuck" in one part or the other. Psychologists think this is one reason those uncomfortable memories can feel so scary to work through.

EMDR is thought to help re-process those emotions to reduce their impact on the individual. It's a newer technique, but there is already exciting research on the subject.

What the Research Says

EMDR has been used in practice to treat psychiatric disorders since the eighties. Since then, a range of studies have looked at its efficiency, compared it to other active treatment methods, and made recommendations for its use.

Nearly all recent EMDR studies have found a moderate significance in its effectiveness for treating PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

In research language, moderate significance is a statistical term meaning there is good evidence of a positive effect. Research institutions are looking to host further EMDR studies with more people to see if those numbers improve with a bigger sample size.

Expect to see many more studies on this treatment methodology in the future, hopefully with similar results.

What Can EMDR Treat?

Before you agree to an EMDR session, it is important to know that your psychologist is a certified practitioner. Both Dr. Gary Meiers and Dr. Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers in Edmonton are EMDR certified.

A certified EMDR therapist can use the technique to treat

• Depression • Social Anxiety • Generalized Anxiety Disorder • Dysthymia • PTSD

... as well as comorbid conditions. EMDR is fantastic for processing painful acute memories, as well as chronic mental illness symptoms.

What Is EMDR Therapy Like?

Now that you know a little more about EMDR, it's time to talk about what to expect in a session. EMDR psychotherapy is not scary. It does not hurt and is very effective.

During treatment, your psychologist will have you watch a ball on a screen while walking you through a traumatic memory or something that needs to be processed. You will hear beeps in your headphones, or the therapist may tap you on either side of your arm.

The counsellor is with you during the entire session, and you will have time to discuss your experience after.

EMDR Trauma Therapy: Is It Right for You?

EMDR is one of those things that can't hurt to try. You have nothing to lose from doing a session with a certified therapist, only everything to gain.

We hope you enjoyed this guide on what is EMDR therapy and that you'll come see us at our Edmonton office. Dr. Meiers and Associates believe in the power of EMDR and love helping patients.

Schedule a call today.


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