EMDR, Liberating Painful Memories of the Past

EMDR therapy, which means “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing” in Turkish, is based on the stimulation of the two hemispheres of the brain as a result of individuals moving their eyes to the right and left. It is an effective therapy method in the treatment of emotional problems, intellectual and behavioral problems that arise due to disturbing and negative life experiences that people are exposed to.

EMDR is a psychotherapy technique whose effectiveness has also been proven in controlled studies in mitigating the effects of past traumatic experiences of individuals.

EMDR therapy can be used in the treatment of many psychological and psychosomatic (physiological complaints based on psychology) disorders. These ailments; anxiety disorders, phobias, harassment, rape, death, torture, stress disorder as a result of events such as accident, depression, sexual dysfunction, eating disorder, sleep disorder, fibromyalgia, migraine, chronic pain, performance anxiety, stress.

Painful memories from the past can also affect our present. EMDR therapy addresses these traumatic memories and finds the connection of a present condition, symptom with past painful memories, neutralizing this connection point. He argues that the symptoms we experience today are actually caused by our traumatic memories from the past. Our negative beliefs and emotions are not the problem itself, but the expression of an existing problem. For this reason, with EMDR, the effect of the traumatic memory on the person’s mind is alleviated. As the effect of the memory on the person changes, the existing symptoms gradually disappear. For example; For a person who has been in a traffic accident on a rainy day and is stuck in a vehicle, the smell of rain can be a trigger. He may feel stuck when he smells rain, consciously or unconsciously. EMDR therapy reprocesses this memory and makes the person desensitized to smell.

EMDR therapy can also be used for family members dealing with the death of a loved one. With the weakening and sudden death of the sick person over time, the sick person is remembered with a more painful image in the minds of family members and individuals who care for the patient. The family member is often unable to recall positive memories of the deceased, which worsens and complicates the grieving process.

Recalling the painful memory may seem challenging. But living with the effects of this painful moment is more challenging. It is important to face this painful memory in a safe environment. EMDR not only eliminates present-day symptoms but also enhances positive beliefs and emotions.

How is EMDR Therapy Applied?

EMDR therapy consists of 8 stages.

Client History:In the first stage of the therapy, the memories that are the source of the client’s problems and the goals for the future are determined and a treatment plan is created.

Preparation:At this stage, the client is informed about EMDR and is prepared for the therapy process.

Evaluation:In the evaluation phase, the therapist tries to determine what the client’s current negative beliefs and feelings about the target memory are and to understand their desire to turn this memory into a positive one.

Desensitization: This stage begins with the client thinking about their negative belief about the memory, experiencing negative emotions and feeling the change that all these have created in their body. Then the client frees his mind. He becomes aware of everything that goes through his mind without checking its content or where it is headed.

The purpose of desensitization is to stimulate the right and left brain at the same time, so that the brain starts to process the traumatic memory. The therapist asks questions to the client from time to time during bidirectional stimulation. The duration of the bidirectional stimulations that help the brain to process data varies according to the person and the memory.

Placement:In the settlement phase, it is expected that the client’s negative thoughts about himself or her due to the traumatic event will change and become more positive.

Size Scan: The client’s body is scanned and it is checked whether he feels an uncomfortable sensation. If there is a disturbing sensation, the memory continues to process. In the event that the disturbing sensations disappear, the next stage is passed.

Closing: At this stage, the therapist gives feedback to the client. At the end of the session, they are asked to note or take a photograph of the negative emotions, body sensations, dreams, etc. They are asked to use resources such as “safe place” in case of discomfort. It tells what can happen after the session.

Reassessment: Evaluation of the previous session is made. The therapist checks whether the positive results achieved in the previous session are established. It also evaluates new data from the client. As a result of these evaluations, the processing process continues or other memories are started to be worked on.

Once the processing of unprocessed, past, and recent memories or memories is complete, the present troubling symptoms also largely disappear. However, each symptom is screened again and processed if necessary. With the re-evaluation phase, it is checked whether this change is permanent and the change is reinforced.

EMDR therapy is applied by:

EMDR can only be applied by experts who have completed the EMDR certified training of the EMDR Turkey Association. Following this training, the EMDR technique is applied in a certain number of sessions with the supervision received. At the end of this process, with the approval of the supervisor, he becomes a European Accredited EMDR therapist.

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