EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a type of psychotherapy used by mental health therapists and clinicians around the world. Developed by American psychologist Francine Shapiro, EMDR helps people to heal from trauma and feel better about their lives.
It can be used with other kinds of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnosis. Renewed Edge, a counselling and hypnosis centre, is a leading provider of EMDR Therapy Hong Kong.
EMDR therapy is a technique that combines the recall of disturbing memories with guided eye movements to process past trauma. Relatively new, the therapy is known for its ability to achieve fast results. Successful use of EMDR exercises relieves discomfort, reformulates negative beliefs, and reduces the body’s response to stress. EMDR uses detailed procedures and protocols to help clients heal past wounds.
Scientists know that mental images are necessary for recalling memories. They also know that the senses are reactivated when an event is remembered. Because recalling an event changes the way it is remembered, the memory becomes less intense.
During EMDR counselling, the therapist guides the client through negative beliefs and emotions by stimulating both eyes with repeated movements or taps. Sessions begin with a personal history and treatment plan. The therapist explains the procedure, reviews the process with the client, and assesses the strength of a targeted memory.
While focusing on the event, the client reports on emerging thoughts and emotions. The analysis of the report becomes the foundation for the next session, and the process continues until the client feels comfortable with the memory.
Studies have consistently shown EMDR exercises to be effective for reducing the physical and psychological symptoms of adverse events. Research also suggests that EMDR works slightly better than cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating trauma. A 2014 survey of 24 studies recommended EMDR to medical providers and clinicians for treating patients with PTSD, trauma, anxiety, and related disorders.
Besides treating PTSD and traumatic memories, studies showed that EMDR is effective for treating trauma in psychosis. During treatment, protocols were adapted to avoid direct exposure to disturbing stimuli and to extend the duration of therapy. Participants did not have an increased risk of suicide. While hallucinations responded positively to EMDR, paranoia did not. Self-esteem improved, and symptoms of anxiety and depression diminished.
The duration of treatment depends on the individual’s history and the nature of the problem. In one study, between 80% and 90% of participants processed single traumas during their first three sessions. Eight in ten people with multiple or complicated traumatic memories showed a significant improvement in post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD) within six hours of therapy. In a study of combat veterans, 77% showed significant improvement in PTSD symptoms within 12 EMDR sessions.
Individual sessions vary but usually last from 60 to 90 minutes. Results may be seen in as little as one session, or they may require multiple sessions. Each treatment plan addresses three aspects of a single trauma: disturbing memories, present distress, and future actions. EMDR may work quickly, but the goal is to take as many sessions as each client needs. Clients have various needs, and issues that need attention may pop up during sessions.
Whether offered online or in person, the basic principles of EMDR are the same. A major difference between EMDR online and in person is the way the therapist delivers the technique. In person, the client may be asked to follow lights or the therapist’s hands with the eyes. Online, software and self-tapping are common devices. EMDR software may use moving lights or sounds through headphones.
Individual preferences for online or in-person sessions vary, but the COVID-19 epidemic increased the demand for virtual sessions. Because sessions trigger troubling thoughts, some people prefer the presence of a therapist. Others like the convenience and affordability of virtual or self-administered classes.
Traumatic experiences trigger negative feelings. Emotions, such as fear and shame, interfere with the ability to store memories effectively. When thoughts, smells, or other senses activate the memory, the distress may come back as anxiety. EMDR helps to identify and reprocess the triggers, reducing symptoms of anxiety and related disorders.
There is a robust body of studies suggesting the efficacy of EMDR in treating eating disorders. While more research is needed to support the use of EMDR therapy for eating disorders, the current studies showed benefits in reducing body image distortions and dysfunctional eating.
The team of professionals at Hong Kong Counselling, Hypnotherapy, and Hypnosis Centre can provide EMDR therapy by itself or in combination with other services, such as audio hypnotherapy or health and wellness counselling. Book an appointment today, or visit us to find out how EMDR therapy Hong Kong can help you reach your goals and empower your life.