EMDR for Soldiers with PTSD
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is getting more attention now than ever before. Developed in the late 1980’s, this revolutionary and unique treatment works for survivors of trauma, war, loss and anxiety. EMDR is not like other therapies, so many people choose EMDR after traditional talk therapy fails to fully treat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Soldiers and veterans have particularly experienced success with EMDR.
Why Is EMDR Useful for Treating Trauma and PTSD in Soldiers?
EMDR is not hypnosis. It works by altering the actual brain response to a selected traumatic event. When we experience a terrible event, such as a bombing, an assault or rape, this event actually becomes hard-wired into part of our brain because our brain is designed to protect us.
Just like touching a hot stove will send a pain signal to your brain that causes you to jerk your hand back, our brain learns that certain stimuli may result in more trauma or pain. Sometimes our brain becomes confused—it begins to associate memories, sounds, smells or even textures with a past trauma. For instance, if a soldier is trapped in a vehicle explosion in Afghanistan but returns safely home a year later, loud sounds or even long car journeys may trigger the brain to send a “warning” response and cause a panic attack or strong fight or flight response in the soldier with PTSD.
EMDR works to help people remember uncomfortable memories in a safe and comfortable way. By discussing these memories while certain sounds play in each ear, the brain begins to change brainwave frequencies and allow the soldier to reprogram the brain to no longer be afraid of loud sounds or uncomfortable stimuli. In essence, EMDR works to reprogram the brain to eliminate flashbacks, panics and anxiety associated with PTSD.
How Does EMDR for Soldiers Work?
EMDR involves a few key steps, including:
- A therapy appointment to begin relaxation and get to know your therapist. This is a time for you to discuss your goals and concerns.
- You will then have more sessions to practice relaxation and meditation.
- You may then begin working on your least distressing traumas first. Your therapist will let you take a break if you become distressed or anxious.
- Because you will be so relaxed, you will begin to identify beliefs and thoughts about your trauma that you may not have realized were there, like the mistaken idea that you were at fault, or that you should have acted differently.
- Because you will be listening to sounds that activate your brainwave frequency, you will be open to remaining calm and learning new, positive thoughts. Your brain will process these new, positive thoughts in a way that is similar to deep sleep. You are fully awake and in control, but you will feel relaxed.
- Because you have been awake the whole time, you will be able to leave the session easily. Many people feel immediately less traumatized after their first session, while others require more sessions in order to feel more peaceful on an everyday basis.
By focusing on the trauma in a safe environment and moving their eyes in particular patterns, soldiers can desensitize themselves to the trauma so that they are able to recall it without feeling as if they are actually back at war.
Find EMDR Treatment
If you or someone you love would like to learn more about EMDR for trauma, or find a drug or alcohol addiction program that offers EMDR therapy, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline today. We work with a wide network of trauma and addiction specialists and we can help you find treatment that fits your needs, your budget and your insurance coverage, if applicable.