Clinical Applications for EMDR Therapy
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Phobias and Triggered Attacks
- Chronic Anxiety and Depression
- Obsessive and Dissociative Disorders
- Addiction Disorders
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that was initially put forward as a way to expedite and ease recovery from traumatic memories. After proving an effective and non-intrusive solution for treating the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the technique was expanded and adapted to address a much broader spectrum of psychological disorders. Clinical psychologists now use EMDR and related forms of interactive therapy to address a wide range of mental health conditions that involve severe emotional reactions to distressing thoughts or memories.
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1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Experts in psychology have noted the effects of PTSD for hundreds of years, even though they did not necessarily have a clinical term for the condition. Therapists struggled to grapple with the condition in a wide range of patients, particularly with victims of assault and war veterans. The initial therapy was specifically designed to address disorders related to personal trauma and it has continued to produce positive results for patients suffering from disorders related to recall of past trauma.
2. Phobias and Triggered Attacks
Extreme phobias and triggered panic attacks share many characteristics with stress disorders, which makes them prime candidates for desensitization and reprocessing therapies. While some patients exhibit symptoms of phobia due to PTSD, many cases aren’t necessarily related to a specific traumatic event. Even so, this form of therapy has proven effective at addressing debilitating emotional or psychological disorders stemming from specific environmental triggers.
3. Chronic Anxiety and Depression
Depression and generalized anxiety are persistent problems for many patients. Unfortunately, these disorders can be incredibly complex and may stem from a number of different environmental, psychological and biological factors. While EMDR isn’t an exclusive or complete treatment for these conditions, it has been successfully applied to reduce the severity of symptoms and improve quality of life for patients.
4. Obsessive and Dissociative Disorders
EMDR therapies can also produce positive results for people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and dissociative disorders. Therapy is typically applied alongside other treatments, like medication or applied behavior analysis (ABA), depending on the needs of the patient. Desensitization and reprocessing techniques can speed the recovery process when integrated into a comprehensive therapy program.
5. Addiction Disorders
Addiction disorders have the potential to be incredibly destructive on the lives of those affected, as well as their friends and family members. Thousands of people struggle to overcome severe addictions every year with varying degrees of success. The causes and treatments of addiction are just as diverse as the disorders themselves, but EMDR can be a reliable and effective tool when used alongside conventional therapies for dealing with cases of chronic substance abuse, according to American Addiction Centers.
Clinical psychologists should always be receptive to new techniques and therapeutic opportunities that could help their clients. While a healthy dose of skepticism is a valuable characteristic in any healthcare environment, the innovation of EMDR has already helped patients overcome a wide range of mental health conditions and improve their overall quality of life.