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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

traumaMany of the individuals seeking treatment at Sprout Health Group have co-occurring disorders, a great number of whom have gone through traumatic life experiences. These have compounded their other mental health issues as well as substance abuse disorders. Nevertheless, Sprout provides its clients with a variety of evidence-based treatment programs that can be customized to suit the needs of clients. One of these treatment modalities is the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy or EMDR Therapy in short. This type of therapy has been specifically designed to help individuals with PTSD and other forms of trauma.

The model assumes that extremely emotionally painful life experiences can have a significant effect on the individual’s natural information-processing capabilities. Additionally, these negative life experiences have been shown to reduce the person’s ability to cope effectively with stressful situations such that even seemingly harmless events such as firecrackers exploding during a street parade is often enough to induce panic attacks on the individual.

The therapeutic model borrows concepts from different treatment approaches and uses these to help individuals form more adaptive resolutions with their negative life experiences or trauma. It adheres to the use of bilateral stimulation which can include either or both tactile and auditory stimulation in an attempt to activate both hemispheres of the brain. This helps the individual access, reprocess, and resolve traumatic life experiences embedded in memory.

Typically, EMDR treatment will progress through 8 phases:

Phase 1

Involves planning for the treatment including determination of the client’s readiness as well as an assessment of the specific issues or traumatic events that need to be addressed.

Phase 2

Prepares the client for the treatment interventions by learning some techniques that are meant to reduce emotional distress. These can include imagery, breathing exercises, art therapy, and other relaxation and stress reduction techniques. Phase 2 requires the establishment of trust.

Phase 3

Involves the client’s assessment and reprocessing of a traumatic event. The individual is assisted in identifying a particular traumatic event in which he can associate with a certain negative self-belief. The individual then assesses his negative emotions and sensations in comparison to the items on the Subjective Units Disturbance tool. He is then asked to identify a positive self-statement and carefully assesses his true feelings about the said statement using the Validity of Cognition scale.

Phase 4

Involves desensitization where the client now focuses more on negative thoughts, physical sensations, and negative emotions while the therapist uses bilateral tactile of auditory stimulation to produce rapid eye movements.

Phase 5

Marks the beginning of replacing negative thoughts and feelings with more positive ones. In the installation phase, the client replaces negative self-beliefs with more positive self-statements. By this time, the individual slowly learns to develop clear acceptance of the truth of the positive statements.

Phase 6

The body scan. Here, the individual reports to his therapist any unusual physiologic manifestations while focusing on positive self-statements and the target memory. Bilateral stimulation will be used by the therapist to identify any lingering discomfort or distress.

Phase 7

Involves briefing or closure with each session. Self-calming and relaxation techniques are reinforced and encouraged to be used whenever the individual feels emotional distress. Additional support is provided to make the individual feel a lot better about himself after every treatment session.

Phase 8

Involves continuous evaluation of the individual’s progress often in between treatment sessions. The goal of this phase is for the individual to continue maintaining positive results and continue improving.

At Sprout, the EMDR Therapy has been shown to be particularly effective in reducing the various physical and psychological complaints and in allowing individuals gain insight of their problems. This allows them to reinforce their strengths and develop more positive beliefs about themselves as well as the world around them. This helps boost self-esteem and self-confidence.


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