At The Fullbrook Center, we are committed to helping our patients overcome substance abuse and trauma by providing various forms of treatments, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a form of psychotherapy used for victims of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder to help clear targets. Targets are defined as situations or memories that bring about an overwhelming feeling of uneasiness.
What to expect during EMDR
EMDR is very structured and scripted to effectively treat repressed traumatic memories. During EMDR, the left and right sides of the brain are neutralized so that neither side is fully activated. Typically, therapists try to avoid using words during EMDR and one of the first questions that is asked is “what issue would you like to work on today?”. The patient’s answer is then considered the target and becomes the focus during the session. Sometimes, there is a planning phase where patients make a list of targets that they want to work on.
How does EMDR work?
During EMDR therapists use bilateral stimulation, stimulating two sides of the brain. We have a left and right brain and those two areas of our brains function in different ways. Bilateral stimulation can be done in many forms. The purest method is when the therapist holds up their finger and moves it side to side as the client follows with their eyes, which is the most common, traditional method. Other therapists might also use a light bar instead of their finger to stimulate eye movement. As more research was done on EMDR, it was discovered that it was not necessarily only stimulating eye movement, but also both sides of the brain. This discovery led to different techniques. For instance, headphones attached to a machine that produces a sound can also be used. Tappers, which are vibrating devices that are held in a patient’s hands while altering buzzing occurs, is another variation of an effective method of bilateral stimulation.
Treating Trauma with EMDR
When Trauma is experienced, your brain isn’t able to complete its natural processing. In a safe setting, you can revisit the target and the brain is manipulated with bilateral stimulation so that it will allow for the target to be held long enough to process it. Otherwise, your brain represses these memories to protect itself. When your body stores these experiences without processing them, any occurrence may trigger you to react to these targets.
EMDR has a resourcing phase that entails creating tools to help a client manage triggers outside of the office. Some of the tools include safe places, containers, and keep a TICES log. These tools are created before diving into EMDR to assist patients in managing emotions outside of the place of treatment. Clients self-determine which tool works best for them.
EMDR at The Fullbrook Center
Our hope would be that each patient would use EMDR, but a thorough assessment is conducted to determine if it is the right fit for the current state of that patient. Anytime a patient is in a medical or emotional crisis, the particular form of EMDR used may look different, such as “restricted” versus “free association.”. EMDR is safe and a very well researched modality of psychotherapy that is heavily based in neurology. At the Fullbrook Center, all therapists are trained in EMDR. While EMDR is common, therapists need to be trained in it to practice it. Our aftercare program also includes referrals to EMDR therapists that patients can see when they are discharged from our center. Trauma and EMDR go hand in hand, and our commitment to treating trauma means that we are committed to EMDR excellence.