Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is a type of therapy in which a patient briefly focuses on the trauma memory while at the same time experiencing eye movements, which is associated with a reduction in the directness & emotion associated with the trauma memories.
EMDR was initially developed in 1987 by a psychologist, Francine Shapiro while she was walking in a park and noticed that she had some upsetting thoughts and feelings that suddenly disappeared. She was puzzled by this and decided to find out why. She began experimenting and observed that when she moved her eyes rapidly back and forth while thinking of something disturbing, the disturbance began to go away. She eventually developed a protocol that could be duplicated and studied, which is now known as EMDR Therapy (or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy). EMDR therapy uses a structured eight-phase approach that includes:
Phase 1: History-taking: The therapist & patient work together to identify targets. Targets can include past memories, current triggers, and future goals.
Phase 2: Preparing the Patient: The therapist explains the treatment and introduces the patient to the procedures & practices the eye movements.
Phase 3: Assessment: This portion activates the memory that is being targeted in each session, the image, the cognition, the effect, and the body sensation.
Phase 4: Desensitization: The patient focuses on the memory while engaging in eye movements. This process continues until the patient states that the memory is no longer an issue.
Phase 5: Installation: This strengthens the preferred positive cognition.
Phase 6: Body Scan: In this phase, the patient is asked to observe their physical response while thinking about the incident.
Phase 7: Closure: This is used to end the session. If the targeted memory was not fully processed in the session, specific instructions are used to ensure safety until the next session.
Phase 8: Re-Evaluation: The therapist evaluates the patient's current state, whether the treatment effects have been maintained, what memories may have emerged since the last session.
Several effective treatment options do exist for people suffering from PTSD. A medical treatment called stellate ganglion block (SGB) is one of the newest options. SGB is an injection that is given by a doctor into the neck. It works by affecting the nerves near the voicebox. Doctors have historically used this treatment to help patients suffering from pain and other neurological disorders.
According to Dr. Paul Greene, who wrote a blog on December 14, 2020, for the Manhattan Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, it is suspected that the activity of the sympathetic nervous system is slowed by the effects of the injection of SGB. The sympathetic nervous system is what helps us to respond to a threat. It helps elevate our heart rate and the pace of our breathing, and it helps us respond to a threatening situation. In many people with PTSD, the sympathetic nervous system is overactive.
PTSD is a very serious problem, make sure you are getting the best treatment for it. Consider all your options. Discuss all treatment options with your mental healthcare professional.