Here at our therapeutic boarding schools for girls, we use Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in our counseling. It can be an extremely effective method of offering healing from the trauma of rape, molestation, neglect, abandonment, and other traumatic events. For those who are new to EMDR as a treatment method for trauma, here is a brief overview.
How EMDR works
EMDR was designed to help individuals relieve their psychological stress. It integrates elements of many effective psychotherapies, including psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies. The treatment process involves navigating through eight smaller phases of treatment: 1) history and treatment planning, 2) preparation, 3) assessment, 4) desensitization, 5) installation, 6) body scan, 7) closure, and 8) reevaluation.
During the initial phases of treatment, the therapist works with the individual to identify problem-causing experiences and prepare the individual for upcoming treatment. During the assessment phase, the individual selects an image to associate with the problem-causing experience, a negative self-belief that still lingers as a result of the experience, and a positive self-statement they would rather believe. During desensitization and installation, the individual processes the targeted experience under the supervision of the therapist and then revisits the positive self-statement they selected during assessment. During the last few phases of treatment, the therapist and individual undergo further assessments following the main phases of the treatment process to determine the effectiveness of the treatment.
EMDR for trauma
EMDR is an especially effective treatment method for trauma. It allows the individual to process completely those past experiences that are causing problems, without having to talk about them directly. The individual remains free from the discomfort of having to relive past memories and instead learns how to “digest” and store experiences appropriately in the brain. The individual learns how to store any positive lessons learned from the experience and how to discard any negative feelings, emotions, or behaviors associated with the experience. Ultimately, the individual who undergoes EMDR treatment leaves with the emotions, understanding, and perspectives necessary for future healthy behaviors and interactions with others.