Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, EMDR, is a therapeutic process that helps people free themselves from the harmful memories, negative thoughts, and upsetting emotions connected to past trauma that hinder their ability to lead healthy, productive lives. EMDR is non-invasive, evidence-based psychotherapy that has been clinically proven to be effective for treating trauma, PTSD, addiction, depression, and anxiety.
At Harmony Hills, EMDR is one of the many treatment modalities we offer as part of our comprehensive, holistic approach to lasting recovery. To learn more about how EMDR therapy can help you or your loved one, contact us at 855.494.0357.
How Does Trauma Affect the Brain?
A traumatic event is an incident that causes harm physically, emotionally, or psychologically. Everyone responds to trauma differently, and even people experiencing the same traumatic event will have their uniques reactions. However, trauma affects the same areas of the brain in all of us; the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. These three areas of the brain work together to process our reactions to stress.
The amygdala is the emotional and instinctual center, the hippocampus controls memory, and the prefrontal cortex regulates emotions and impulse control. The memory of trauma creates a chain reaction of events, as follows:
- The amygdala goes into overdrive, making you feel like experiencing the trauma for the first time.
- The prefrontal cortex becomes suppressed, making it challenging to control your fear and leaving you in a purely reactive state.
- Reduced activity in the hippocampus confuses memory, so your brain cannot distinguish between the actual event and the memory of it.
Usually, the brain naturally processes a traumatic event over approximately four to six weeks, and the memory of the event no longer causes extreme distress. However, sometimes the brain gets stuck in the process, especially with repeated exposure to traumatic events. Untreated trauma leaves the brain in a state of hypervigilance, which suppresses memory and impulse control and leaves you in a perpetual state of intense emotional reactivity. When this occurs for six weeks or longer, it can lead to mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
How Does EMDR Treatment Heal Trauma?
The human brain is extraordinarily adaptive. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to form new connections. The brain’s natural inclination is towards healing and growth. Trauma can block this process. Through EMDR therapy, clients can effectively process trauma to transform the associations that have become maladaptive and disruptive to daily functioning.
Many therapeutic approaches are aimed at changing the emotions, thoughts, and reactions to traumatic events. By contrast, EMDR focuses on changing how the brain processes and stores the memory of the event. If EMDR is part of your treatment plan at Harmony Hills, you will work with an EMDR-trained clinician one to two sessions per week for six to twelve weeks. Bilateral stimulation is used to activate both sides of the brain while you think of an upsetting memory. The resulting rapid processing enables the brain to move the memory from the emotional centers to the logical center of the brain to be processed appropriately.
One of the benefits of EMDR therapy is that it works very quickly compared to traditional talk and behavior therapies. Other benefits include:
- Development of healthy coping mechanisms
- Changes pattern of negative thoughts and beliefs
- Safe and non-invasive
- Reducing anxiety and panic attacks
- Reduces depression
- Lessening the desire to use drugs and alcohol
EMDR is an ideal choice for individuals who have difficulty expressing themselves because it does not require that you talk about traumatic events in detail. That said, clients should be aware that it can feel triggering initially, but your therapist will provide you with the tools to cope.
Learn More About Mental Health Therapy About Harmony Hills
If you suffer from depression, anxiety, substance abuse, addiction, or PTSD because of past or current trauma, EMDR can be an effective part of a comprehensive treatment plan. To learn more about EMDR therapy and see if it can complement your mental health therapy, call Harmony Hills today at 855.494.0357.