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The Latest Research on EMDR Therapy: Massachusetts Contributions

Everyone has different responses to their unresolved traumas. The most common response is when the mind often goes into overdrive, trying to protect itself from memories of disaster.

Whether it’s the sound of shattering glass or a certain smell, those traumatic memories cause nightmares and intrusive thoughts for those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Since PTSD was officially recognized in 1980, therapists have been working on different therapies to help individuals navigate the challenges of traumatic memories. In the last decade, a treatment that might seem a bit unconventional has gained popularity: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, or E.M.D.R.

To an outsider, E.M.D.R. might look a bit strange. It involves guiding individuals through the process of dealing with traumatic memories while also engaging with images, sounds, or sensations that activate both sides of the brain. Patients might follow a therapist’s moving finger or focus on alternating bursts of light on a screen. The goal is to keep the mind in the present while exploring the past. 

As you already have an idea of what this article will be focused on, let’s dive into it. We will discuss the effectiveness of EMDR therapy as per scientific studies, and the latest research finding that emerged on 07 Jul 2022.

So, What is EMDR Therapy, and How it Works?

EMDR stands out as a groundbreaking therapy that blends elements of traditional psychotherapy with innovative techniques like eye movements or tapping. Unlike conventional talk therapy, EMDR takes a different path; it aims to provide a healing experience directly addressing the core of trauma. Similar to approaches like Somatic Experiencing and Brainspotting, EMDR fosters a restorative encounter for the client.

 

How does this revolutionary therapy actually work? Through rigorous research and insights from neuroscientific studies, experts have uncovered the key mechanism. EMDR activates the brain’s innate healing processes, enabling the reprocessing of distressing memories and the cultivation of fresh, adaptive perspectives. 

 

The magic of EMDR lies in the understanding that your own brain carries the wisdom needed to alleviate your pain, uniquely tailored to you. It’s about tapping into that intrinsic wisdom to achieve healing.

Scientific Overview of EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy has earned widespread acclaim for its remarkable ability to heal trauma and alleviate emotional suffering. To grasp the workings of EMDR, one must understand the science underpinning this transformative experience. 

Fundamentally, EMDR therapy revolves around the concept of memory reconsolidation – a process that modifies and updates memories. In simpler terms, EMDR unravels memories and reshapes them in a way that minimizes pain, transforming the overwhelming experience into something more manageable.

Memories linked to trauma or negative events can get stuck, contributing to emotional distress and psychological symptoms. EMDR steps in to reprocess these distressing memories, empowering individuals to forge new, adaptive insights and diminish the emotional impact they carry. 

Unlike asking you to deceive yourself, EMDR challenges you to reassess your experiences based on the wisdom accumulated throughout your lifetime, not just your emotions and thoughts in the moment. You could say that it’s about embracing a holistic perspective that honors the entirety of your journey.

Is EMDR Therapy Effective? [Here’s What the Research Says]

Once an experimental treatment, EMDR is now known as the best psychotherapy to heal past traumas. Thanks to a multitude of research studies spanning several years that confirm the efficacy of EMDR therapy in addressing trauma.

The consistent findings underscore EMDR therapy as a highly effective treatment, demonstrating substantial improvements in symptoms associated with:

  • Trauma, 
  • Anxiety, 
  • Eating disorders,
  • Substance addiction,
  • Depression, and 
  • Phobias.

In a pivotal study by Shapiro and Maxfield (2002), the transformative potential of EMDR therapy was evident as 84-90% of participants no longer met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after just three sessions. 

Further strengthening this evidence, a meta-analysis of 11 studies involving 547 participants showcased EMDR’s superiority over Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in alleviating post-traumatic symptoms. Notably, EMDR surpassed CBT in reducing anxiety, though no significant difference emerged in depression reduction between the two.

Another illuminating meta-analysis by Chen et al. (2015) affirmed the significant effectiveness of EMDR therapy over CBT in reducing PTSD symptoms (p = 0.05). These comprehensive research findings collectively underscore the potency of EMDR therapy as a compelling instrument for trauma healing and the cultivation of psychological well-being.

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Who Needs to Have EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy extends its transformative reach to various psychological conditions and emotional scars. The evidence of its effectiveness is especially prominent for individuals who have faced traumatic events, spanning physical or sexual abuse, accidents, natural disasters, or trauma from combat experiences.

If you have suffered from one or more of the following conditions, we strongly suggest you opt for EMDR therapy for relatively fast and highly effective results. 

  • Traumatic events: EMDR therapy is particularly effective for individuals who have undergone traumatic experiences, regardless of the intensity of the trauma.
  • Anxiety disorders and phobias: EMDR therapy offers relief for those struggling with anxiety disorders and various phobias.
  • Addiction and depression: The therapeutic approach of EMDR extends its benefits to individuals dealing with addiction and depression.
  • Experiences of neglect and abuse: EMDR therapy provides a pathway for addressing the emotional impact of neglect and abuse.
  • Impact over intensity: The key criterion for benefiting from EMDR is not the intensity of the trauma but rather the impact those experiences have had on the individual.

Crucially, for those considering EMDR therapy, seeking guidance from a trained and licensed EMDR therapist is imperative. EMDR therapy demands expertise, and the best outcomes are achieved when the therapist has dedicated time and effort to master this approach.

What Does the MOST RECENT Research on EMDR Conclude? [Massachusetts Contributions]

Since the official recognition of EMDR as a therapeutic method for healing traumas and addressing substance addiction, numerous studies have been conducted, offering substantial evidence of its effectiveness in treating psychological disorders. To provide a recent example, let’s highlight a study published in July 2022.

A recent study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, investigated the effectiveness of EMDR therapy conducted through video-conferencing psychotherapy (VCP). 

The research, led by Dr. Derek Farrell in collaboration with multiple universities of Massachusetts, Northumbria, Ulster, and Worcestor, utilized remotEMDR, a web platform enabling therapists to deliver EMDR through VCP. 

The study involved a one-session treatment using the Virtual ‘Blind 2 Therapist’ EMDR therapy protocol with non-disclosure of traumatic memory. The results confirmed significant changes in various aspects of trauma memory immediately after the intervention, as well as 1 month and 6 months later. EMDR via VCP using remotEMDR was deemed safe, relevant, effective, and efficient for desensitization and reprocessing traumatic memories.

This groundbreaking approach not only advances accessibility but also offers a promising solution for individuals with mobility constraints, widening the scope of mental health support.

Wrapping it Up!

Still wondering if EMDR therapy can work? The scientific studies we have mentioned above clearly confirm how EMDR therapy has helped countless people transform their lives. Once you are over the past traumas, and learn to live with them without going off the rails, life becomes fulfilling. 

If you want to experience a trauma-free and mentally uplifting life, feel free to look for professional help. Contact Resilience Behavioral Health to find your best mental healthcare professional. Click here to visit the Contact page, or you may directly call 888.401.1179 for immediate help. 

Happy healing to you!