Events That Can Cause Trauma and Treatments That Can Help EMDR Therapy

By Julia Thomas

Updated December 10, 2018


EMDR therapy, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, is a type of psychotherapy that specifically treats those suffering from post-traumatic stress, which can be caused by panic attacks, horrific memories, phobias, addictions, sexual or physical abuse, personality disorders, and more.

The Brain When Traumatized


When a person is significantly distraught, the brain becomes unable to perform tasks as well as it did before. The memories of disturbing moments are retrieved and relived more easily and more often than other less scarring and even happy memories; it usually fades away only to be retrieved when triggered.

These disturbing memories can greatly affect a person's well-being in a negative manner. In most cases, these memories can be triggered unexpectedly, which can bring a person back to their original severely stressed state at the moment of the memory.

The effect is overwhelming as it can change the way one perceives the world around them and it could change the way that others see them. For example, if someone were to be socially active and giddy, after a traumatizing event, such as a panic attack, they may become reserved and sensitive.

Post-traumatic stress can be treated by certified professionals as they use EMDR therapy.

EMDR Therapy Techniques


The purpose of EMDR therapy is to change the way a person reacts to a traumatizing event or memory rather than eliminating or avoiding the disturbing memory, which cannot be done, at least not successfully.

As was said in the article, "What is the Actual EMDR Session Like?", EMDR is often compared with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. That is, it centers on the focus of your eyes.

Though EMDT therapy follows a series of steps, one of the key steps is desensitization. During this step, the therapist will present a client a series of scenarios in which the client will rate their scale of disturbance upon. The rates of disturbances can go as low as 0 or no disturbance to 10 or the highest disturbance.

The focus or movements of the client's eyes during this time will be monitored. Throughout the sessions, the therapist will suggest new sets of eye movement for the client to try. These shifts of focus will change until the rates of the client's disturbance are reduced to 0.

Another successful technique in EMDR therapy is the body scan.

Part of the reactions to disturbing relived memories is the movements, especially when a person was physically affected during the traumatic episode. When triggered, the body can react in response to the associated memory. Body scans are used to identify physical trauma, but desensitization can be used to treat these conditions as well.

After a successful EMDR session, the client should be able to sense triggers and not feel any emotional trauma or muscular tension.

Other Options for Post-Traumatic Stress Recovery

It is important that a client feels comfortable with his or her therapist. Should it be the case that the relationship between a client and therapist is poor, the EMDR therapy may not be successful.

In any EMDR therapy, during the first and last few sessions, there should be some interaction between the client and the therapist in terms of the client's post-traumatic stress and the treatments that will be given to the client. Due to this, being comfortable enough to express yourself plays a large role in the success of EMDR therapy.

If you need a safe outlet to practice doing just this, it is recommended that you use BetterHelp, a platform that allows clients to interact anonymously with certified therapists online.

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