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What to Expect in EMDR

close up image of person pointing at their eye symbolizing what to expect in emdr

Chances are, you’ve heard about eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. It’s a highly effective, evidence-based treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, specifically when difficult or traumatic past events and memories are getting in the way of wellness. EMDR is gaining traction as one of the most powerful therapies available to help people find healing and balance. If you are looking for Denver, Colorado EMDR therapy, consider Mile High Recovery.

At Mile High, a trained, experienced clinical staff provides a range of psychiatric and addiction therapies, including EMDR. Learn more about what to expect in EMDR treatment by calling us today at 855.796.2102 or using our online form. We can answer your questions and help determine if EMDR therapy is right for you.

What Is EMDR?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is based on the fact that bilateral eye movement shifts the way the brain stores and responds to past trauma. In EMDR, you literally reprocess the traumatic memories and become desensitized to them. It is not about erasing memories but about storing them in the brain properly where they are not able to constantly retraumatize you.

Because humans evolved to survive all kinds of environmental threats, the brain stores memories of trauma – i.e., dangerous and frightening experiences – close to the surface. To avoid a second saber-toothed tiger attack, you must remember the first one very well to be vigilant and ready if it happens again.

Though that system helped humans survive in the past, it is less useful nowadays. When your trauma is always top-of-mind, you have to live with it almost as if it were still happening. EMDR helps you move your memory of trauma to a more appropriate and less triggering folder in your mind’s storage system.

What to Expect in EMDR Therapy

When you begin EMDR with your therapist, you will proceed through eight phases and focus on the past, present, and future. You will focus on distressing memories and developing skills that will serve you if you face traumatic events in the future. Depending on how many traumatic events you are processing, EMDR therapy can be completed in as few as ten sessions or take up to 24 or more. However, EMDR expectations regarding the length of treatment are that this therapy is short-term.

The phases of EMDR are as follows.

  • Phase 1 is when you and your therapist determine what to focus on first as the target of the therapy. This involves a thorough history which can be difficult for you as you discuss traumatic memories but remember you are in a safe place and in good hands.
  • Phase 2 prepares you to reduce stress during and between sessions. Your therapist guides you with imagery and other techniques to mitigate overwhelming emotional responses related to stress and anxiety. These tools will serve you well now and in the future.
  • Phases 3-6 cover the reprocessing of a target memory. Using bilateral eye movement or tapping, you become desensitized to the trauma until the memory remains, but all associated distress is gone.
  • Phase 7 involves keeping a record in a written or audio diary of your EMDR experiences, including feelings, new information, and anything else that may be pertinent.
  • Phase 8 is when you and your therapist confirm that the work was successful and that you are free of physical and emotional reactions to the memory.

EMDR helps you turn memories that were like a constant assault on your well-being into a source of empowerment.

EMDR Expectations at Mile High Recovery

Whether you enroll in an inpatient program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), or a regular outpatient program (OP) at Mile High Recovery, EMDR therapy will be available to you as one of many evidence-based treatments.

Learn more about what to expect in EMDR therapy, for addiction, mental health, or both, by calling Mile High Recovery today. Our number is 855.796.2102, or you can simply fill out this online form.

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