Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. EMDR therapy has helped people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress. EMDR progresses through 8 phases treatment. In the early stages, the client's history is taken and treatment planning is completed. During the assessment phase, the client's target trauma is examined including the client's beliefs about himself or herself, emotions, and sensations. With the information gained in this phase the therapist is able to assist the client in processing the target until it can be experienced differently in the present. During desensitization, the therapist leads the person in sets of eye movement (or other forms of stimulation) with appropriate shifts and changes of focus until the client's SUD-scale levels are reduced to zero (or 1 or 2 if this is more appropriate). The next phase of treatment will focus on assisting clients to replace negative beliefs with positive ones and then strengthening the positive beliefs. In phase 6, any residual tension experienced in the body when the client recalls the original trauma is targeted for reprocessing. Phase 7 ends each session so that the client leaves feeling in balance. This can include self-soothing techniques to help the client calm himself or herself. Each session thereafter begins with Phase 8 in which the therapist checks to see what changes have occurred for the client and identifies areas that need to be further addressed.
I have used EMDR with individuals with PTSD from combat, sexual assault, attachment injuries. EMDR may produce results more rapidly than other forms of therapy, but this can vary from client to client. It is important to remember that everyone's needs are different and therapist needs to meet the client wherever they are in treatment. For instance, one client may take weeks to establish rapport and trust (Phase Two), while another may proceed quickly through the initial phase of treatment only to reveal, something even more important that needs treatment. EMDR therapy is complete when it has focused on the past memories that are contributing to the problem, the present situations that are disturbing, and what skills the client may need for the future.
Prolonged Exposure (PE) Therapy
Prolonged Exposure (PE) is an evidence-based treatment designed to help trauma survivors emotionally process their experiences. Evidenced-based treatments have been proven to work with clients in clinical research studies. PE has over twenty years of research showing its efficacy. It has been my personal experience that PE works. I have worked with active duty soldiers and veterans with PTSD using prolonged exposure with great efficacy and outcomes. I have also used it with individuals who have survived sexual assault and rape. Though I cannot guarantee how you will respond, many people are helped by the treatment and I hope that you can also benefit from it.
There are several components to PE, including education about typical reactions to trauma, breathing retraining, in vivo exposure and imaginal exposure. In vivo exposures involve confronting distressing situations in a systematic and graduated fashion over time. Imaginal exposure involves the telling of the trauma story dying sessions in the present tense as if it were happening in the moment. Exposures are the heart of the treatment, because they have been proven to reduce anxiety and distress. The goal of the exposure is to help you process previous traumatic events and to learn that experiencing the memories and negative feelings that are often triggered are not the same as the trauma event itself. With repeated exposure, the anxiety and distress should decrease, and you will learn to tolerate the anxiety, thereby increasing and reestablishing your sense of self-mastery.