The brain is an organ that scientists and medical professionals are still studying and still have much to learn. Because PTSD is a disorder that involves various sections in the brain, treatment isn’t always as easy as taking medication to reduce or eliminate symptoms. That’s why it’s so important for patients to work with a psychologist or counselor who has the training and experience to provide a variety of treatments, including EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
Dr. Andy Brown has level one and level two certifications in EMDR therapy and is passionate about providing treatment and support for patients with PTSD. Dr. Brown has an extensive background and uses his training to help patients understand the disorder, teaching them to cope with their symptoms, and giving them hope for a normal and well-adjusted life. If you are struggling with PTSD and its symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact a professional for help and treatment.
What is EMDR?
Originally developed for patients with PTSD, EMDR is a type of therapy that instructs the patient to focus on the traumatic event while at the same time experiences bilateral stimulation (BLS), or eye movements. EMDR therapy can be confusing for anyone not accustomed to the terminology, however, with the guidance and support of Dr. Andy Brown, there is meant to be a reduction in the vividness and emotional response to memories of the trauma.
The basis of PTSD is when patients continue to have a physiological and emotional response to memories, people, places, or activities that are associated with the traumatic event. EMDR therapy focuses on the memories that trigger an emotional response — memories that are unprocessed and still hold the initial emotions, thoughts, and physical responses that occurred after the trauma took place. This type of therapy seeks to treat, or process, the memory directly and hopes to affect how it’s stored, effectively reducing the physical responses, or PTSD symptoms.
During an EMDR therapy session, the patient will bring back memories of the event itself or certain moments of the event, and at the same time, the psychologist will provide some sort of stimulation, such as finger movements, a tap, tones in the ear, or hand sensors. The BLS occurs rhythmically, from left to right, and the patient will follow the stimulation with their eyes. This process is meant to stimulate both hemispheres in the brain — the left, which focuses on language and linguistics, and the right, which focuses on experiences — as well as to mimic the process of how memories are stored in the brain during REM sleep.
The Eight Stages of EMDR Therapy
There are typically six to 12 EMDR sessions, taking place one to two times per week. However, depending on your unique needs and how the first sessions progress, there may be fewer sessions needed. This type of PTSD treatment is structured into eight stages, or phases, including:
- History Taking
- Body Scan
Just as it sounds, this stage involves the psychologist getting to know your history, and also provides an opportunity for you to create treatment plans and future goals. You may also establish trigger memories that cause your PTSD symptoms.
This phase involves learning more about EMDR treatment and the process. Dr. Andy Brown will teach a variety of stress reduction techniques to ensure that you can manage any emotional stress, and may establish a safe-place image for you. You will also learn more about BLS, or bilateral stimulation, which activates the brain’s Adaptive Information Processing system (more on that in another blog). Your therapist may also talk about resourcing so that you can focus on positive experiences, thoughts, and images.
Stages Three – Six
This group of stages is when the treatment actually takes place. This sequence of stages can be done multiple times in a single session.
You will designate a target negative memory that you want to process during BLS. You will also identify a related positive image or thought.
You will focus on the negative memory while the therapist performs the finger movements, tapping, or tones. You will then consider and report any new thoughts or responses that occurred during or after BLS. Depending on what you report, your therapist can make adjustments and continue. The desensitization phase continues until the memory no longer elicits an emotional or physical response.
This phase focuses on the positive image or thought established during the assessment stage.
6. Body Scan
During this stage, you will take some time to consider any responses, sensations, or reactions related to the target memory. If there are still responses, your therapist will lead you through this group again.
To bring the session to an end, a variety of self-control techniques are used which aim to contain the memory until the next session. Depending on the outcome of the session, this stage may vary for each person.
The beginning of the next EMDR therapy session will begin with stage eight, a reevaluation of how the previous session went, if there were positive impacts, or if any new memories came to the surface in between sessions. This will set the stage for further treatment.
EMDR therapy involves several important steps and details, which you will go over with your therapist in more depth during your initial session. The important thing is to be as open and honest about your symptoms as possible with your therapist. PTSD treatment comes in various forms, so try to remain open-minded.
Dr. Andy Brown has worked with dozens of patients struggling with PTSD and is passionate about providing the support and guidance you need to achieve peace and a higher quality of life. Treatment takes time and effort, but with professional help, there is hope for relief from challenging symptoms. View our client resources here if you are struggling with symptoms, and don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Brown to schedule an appointment. Your health and safety is our number one priority.