Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychological treatment that helps people process and recover from past traumatic experiences that are affecting their mental health and wellbeing. It involves using side-to-side eye movements combined with talk therapy in a specific and structured format. EMDR helps people process the negative images, emotions, beliefs and body sensations associated with traumatic memories that seem to be stuck and contribute to a range of mental health problems.
EMDR can also help people achieve Self-transcendence, which is the ability to go beyond one’s personal limitations and connect with Something greater than oneself. Self-transcendence can enhance one’s sense of Meaning, Purpose, and well-being in life. EMDR can facilitate Self-transcendence by helping people resolve the Trauma that blocks their access to their inner resources and potential. By processing the traumatic memories and releasing the Negative emotions and beliefs, people can gain a new Perspective on themselves and their experiences, and reconnect with their core values and strengths.
This text provides an introduction to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and its relationship with Self-transcendence. It explains what EMDR is, how it works, what it can help with, and how it can promote Self-transcendence. It is intended for anyone who is interested in learning more about this therapy or who is considering trying it for themselves.
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy method that aims to help people heal from Trauma and other distressing life experiences. The theory behind EMDR is based on the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, which proposes that traumatic memories are stored differently than normal memories in the brain. Traumatic memories are not fully processed and integrated, and they remain isolated and disconnected from other memories. This causes them to be easily triggered by Sensory cues, resulting in Emotional distress and Negative beliefs about oneself and the world.
EMDR therapy involves stimulating both sides of the brain (Bilateral stimulation) while the person recalls a traumatic memory. The most common form of Bilateral stimulation is eye movements, but other forms such as tapping or sounds can also be used. The Bilateral stimulation is thought to facilitate the reprocessing of the traumatic memory, allowing it to be connected with more adaptive and positive information. This reduces the emotional intensity and disturbance associated with the memory, and helps the person develop a more adaptive Perspective on the traumatic event and its consequences.
According to the theory behind EMDR, traumatic memories are stored in a different way than normal memories, and they can get stuck in the nervous system and cause distress. By stimulating both sides of the brain, EMDR aims to activate the natural healing mechanism of the brain and help it integrate the traumatic memories with the rest of the memory network. This way, the memories lose their power and become less disturbing.
EMDR therapy has been extensively researched and proven to be effective for treating Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as other conditions related to Trauma and Stress. This therapy does not require detailed verbalization or prolonged exposure to the traumatic memory, which may make it more acceptable and tolerable for some people. It can help people recover from Trauma and improve their mental health and wellbeing.
A typical EMDR therapy session
An EMDR therapy session typically consists of eight phases :
- History and treatment planning: The Therapist gathers information about the client’s history, current problems, and goals. The Therapist also identifies specific traumatic memories or events that will be targeted in the therapy.
- Preparation: The Therapist establishes trust and rapport with the client and explains the EMDR procedure in detail. The Therapist also teaches the client some coping skills to deal with any Emotional distress that may arise during or after the therapy.
- Assessment: The Therapist asks the client to bring up a traumatic memory and identify the negative belief, emotion, and body sensation associated with it. The Therapist also helps the client formulate a positive belief that they would like to have instead.
- Desensitization: The Therapist guides the client to focus on the traumatic memory while simultaneously doing Bilateral stimulation, such as moving their eyes from side to side or tapping their hands. The Therapist monitors the client’s level of distress and adjusts the pace and intensity of the stimulation accordingly. The goal is to reduce the client’s emotional reaction to the memory until it becomes less disturbing.
- Installation: The Therapist asks the client to focus on the positive belief that they want to replace the negative one with while continuing the Bilateral stimulation. The goal is to strengthen and reinforce the positive belief until it feels more true and valid than the negative one.
- Body scan: The Therapist asks the client to scan their body for any residual tension or discomfort related to the memory. If any is found, the Therapist resumes the Bilateral stimulation until it is cleared.
- Closure: The Therapist ends the session by ensuring that the client is in a calm and stable state. The Therapist reviews what was accomplished in the session and gives the client some homework assignments to consolidate the learning and prepare for the next session.
- Reevaluation: At the beginning of each subsequent session, the Therapist checks how the client is doing and evaluates whether the previous session’s target memory has been adequately processed. If not, the Therapist repeats some or all of the previous phases until it is resolved. If yes, the Therapist moves on to a new target memory or event.
EMDR and Self-transcendence
EMDR therapy can be used to achieve Self-transcendence, which is a state of being that transcends one’s Ego and personal limitations. Self-transcendence can enhance one’s sense of Meaning, Purpose, and Connection with others and the world. EMDR therapy can facilitate Self-transcendence by helping people overcome the barriers that Trauma creates, such as fear, shame, guilt, anger, or isolation. By resolving the Trauma, EMDR therapy can help people access their inner resources, such as creativity, Wisdom, Compassion, and Spirituality. EMDR therapy can also help people integrate their traumatic experiences into a larger narrative of their lives that reflects their values and goals.
Example use cases
Here are some examples of user experiences for EMDR therapy as used to achieve Self-transcendence:
- A woman who survived a car accident that killed her husband felt guilty and depressed for years. She tried EMDR therapy and was able to process her grief and Trauma. During the sessions, she felt a warm light surrounding her and a voice telling her that she was loved and forgiven. She felt a Connection to her husband’s spirit and a peace that she had never felt before.
- A man who was abused by his father as a child suffered from low Self-esteem and anger issues. He tried EMDR therapy and was able to confront his painful memories and release his Negative emotions. During the sessions, he felt a surge of energy in his body and a sense of freedom and joy. He felt a Connection to his inner child and a Compassion for his father.
- A woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer felt hopeless and fearful of death. She tried EMDR therapy and was able to accept her condition and find Meaning in her life. During the sessions, she felt a presence of love and grace in her heart and a vision of a beautiful garden. She felt a Connection to God and a trust in His plan for her.
Performing EMDR on yourself
EMDR therapy can be performed by individuals on themselves, without a Therapist, but only after they have received adequate training and guidance from a qualified EMDR Therapist. Self-administered EMDR therapy is not recommended for people who have severe or Complex trauma, dissociative disorders, Psychosis, suicidal ideation or other serious mental health issues. Self-administered EMDR therapy should be done with caution and under the supervision of a professional EMDR Therapist.
- The steps for self-administered EMDR therapy are similar to those for Therapist-guided EMDR therapy, but with some modifications. They include:
- Preparing yourself for the session by finding a safe and comfortable place where you will not be disturbed. You should also have a way of providing yourself with Bilateral stimulation, such as an app, a device or your own hand movements.
- Choosing a target memory that you want to work on. It should be a specific event that still causes you distress when you think about it. You should also identify the negative belief that you have about yourself because of the memory, such as \”I am worthless\” or \”I am powerless\”.
- Rating the intensity of your distress and the validity of your positive belief on a scale of 0 to 10. The distress scale is called the Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) scale and the positive belief scale is called the Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale.
- Starting the Bilateral stimulation while bringing up the target memory and the negative belief in your mind. You should notice any changes in your emotions, thoughts, beliefs or sensations as you do this. You should also try to stay present and grounded in the here and now.
- Stopping the Bilateral stimulation after a set amount of time or when you feel a shift in your experience. You should then check your SUD and VOC ratings again and see if they have changed. If your SUD rating is still high, you should repeat the Bilateral stimulation until it goes down. If your SUD rating is low, you should switch to focusing on the positive belief that you want to have instead of the negative one.
- Continuing the Bilateral stimulation while holding the positive belief in your mind. You should notice any changes in your emotions, thoughts, beliefs or sensations as you do this. You should also try to enhance and strengthen the positive belief by adding more details or evidence to support it.
- Stopping the Bilateral stimulation after a set amount of time or when you feel a shift in your experience. You should then check your SUD and VOC ratings again and see if they have changed. If your VOC rating is still low, you should repeat the Bilateral stimulation until it goes up. If your VOC rating is high, you should move on to the next step.
- Scanning your body for any residual tension or discomfort that may be related to the target memory. If you find any, you should apply Bilateral stimulation while focusing on those sensations until they subside.
- Closing the session by doing something soothing or relaxing, such as deep breathing, stretching or listening to music. You should also congratulate yourself for completing the session and acknowledge your progress.
Self-administered EMDR therapy can be an effective way of processing traumatic memories on your own, but it is not a substitute for professional help. You should always consult with a qualified EMDR Therapist before starting self-administered EMDR therapy and follow their advice and instructions carefully. You should also seek their support if you encounter any difficulties or adverse effects during or after the session.
If you are interested in learning more about EMDR for transcendence, here are some weblinks that explore this topic:
https://www.ptsduk.org/treatment-help/eye-movement-desensitisation-reprocessing-EMDR/ This website provides an overview of EMDR and how it works, as well as some case studies of people who used EMDR for transcendence.
https://positivepsychology.com/EMDR-therapy/ This website explains the theory and research behind EMDR, and also offers some techniques and exercises that you can try at home to use EMDR for transcendence.
https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-therapy/types-of-therapy/eye-movement-desensitisation-and-reprocessing-EMDR/ This website gives a detailed description of what happens in an EMDR session, and how it can help you with various issues, including transcendence.
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325717 This website discusses the benefits, effectiveness, and side effects of EMDR therapy, and also mentions some alternative therapies that can help with Trauma recovery and transcendence.
https://www.EMDR.com/transcending-Trauma/ This website is dedicated to using EMDR for transcendence. It offers a book, a podcast, and a blog that explore how EMDR can help you achieve personal growth, spiritual awakening, and social change.