Can Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Help People with PTSD?
Traumatic experiences can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health, causing them to avoid triggers and struggle with distressing memories. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), an innovative form of therapy, has gained popularity in recent years as a potential solution for effectively treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In their September 2022 report, The New York Times notes that global health authorities are in support of EMDR as a potential solution for those suffering from PTSD. The World Health Organization, the American Psychological Association and England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence all recommend EMDR as a treatment for PTSD, while Trisha Miller, a psychotherapist at the Cleveland Clinic, states, “Anybody who has experienced trauma” could benefit from EMDR, regardless of the severity of their condition.
What is EMDR?
EMDR is a psychotherapy that helps individuals process past traumatic experiences and the distressing symptoms that go along with those experiences. The therapy is based on the idea that unprocessed memories of traumatic events are stored differently in the brain than normal memories. EMDR aims to help individuals process these memories and integrate them into their life story in a healthier way.
How does EMDR work?
EMDR doesn’t solely rely on trauma verbalization between the therapist and patient. Instead, during EMDR therapy, bilateral stimulation is used to reduce the vividness and emotional intensity of the traumatic memory.
The bilateral stimulation used in EMDR can take many forms, including eye movements, sounds or vibrations, and taps or touches. Patients are instructed to briefly focus on the traumatic memory while undergoing this stimulation, which can serve as a distraction from the distressing feelings associated with the memory. The goal is to help the individual process the memory in a new way, reducing the impact of the trauma on their daily life.
The stimulation should be strong enough to be effective, but not so overwhelming that the individual becomes overly focused on it. For example, Harvard University psychology professor Richard McNally says activities such as working on multiplication tables may require too much effort and may not be effective in reducing the emotional intensity of the memory. McNally explains that the ideal outcome of EMDR treatment is the reorganization of trauma storage in the brain. At the end of a therapy session, the trauma is put back in storage in a degraded form, which is less emotionally evocative.
How does EMDR differ from standard talk-therapy?
EMDR therapy follows a comprehensive eight-phase approach that begins with taking the client’s history and preparing them for treatment. The second phase involves assessing the target memory, followed by processing the memory in a way that leads to adaptive resolution. The processing typically takes one to three sessions, after which the treatment results are evaluated in the final phase. Unlike other treatments that expose patients to traumatic events, challenge beliefs, or assign homework, EMDR focuses on processing specific memories causing distress.
EMDR therapy is an effective approach to treating PTSD that emphasizes the processing of specific memories causing distress. By altering the way traumatic memories are stored in the brain, EMDR therapy can lead to a reduction or elimination of problematic symptoms. The use of bilateral stimulation during therapy is essential, but the level of stimulation should be carefully controlled to achieve optimal results.
What are workplace incidents that may result in PTSD?
Certain professions such as law enforcement, healthcare, firefighting and construction put Chattanooga workers at risk of physical or emotional trauma. Some examples of workplace incidents that may cause PTSD include, but are not limited to:
- Falls from heights, slips, and trips
- Burns and electrocutions
- Exposure to hazardous substances
- Vehicle accidents
- Worksite explosions
- Crushing injuries
- Trench collapses
- Traumatic events, such as witnessing violence or a serious accident
If you have suffered injury or emotional trauma from a workplace incident, it’s important to seek legal representation from experienced personal injury lawyers like those at Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law to assess your legal options.
What are the signs of PTSD?
It can be challenging to determine whether someone is suffering from PTSD as each person reacts to stress differently. Here are some common indicators of PTSD to look out for:
- Flashbacks to the traumatic event
- Emotional detachment
- Fear of anything associated with the traumatic event
- Difficulty concentrating
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure
Treating these symptoms can take years of therapy and counseling.
What are my legal options if I am suffering from PTSD from a workplace incident?
If you are a worker who developed PTSD as a result of a traumatic event at your workplace, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. Tennessee workers’ compensation benefits include partial wage payments, medical benefits and disability benefits. Treatment for PTSD may require consultation with different mental health professionals, such as practitioners of EMDR.
While workers’ compensation benefits cover medical treatment costs and lost wages, they do not provide compensation for emotional distress or pain and suffering, which may require additional legal remedies. Chattanooga workers who experience a workplace-related traumatic event that led to PTSD should consider seeking the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure they receive the full compensation they deserve.
If you or someone you know is experiencing PTSD after a workplace accident, a car crash, or any incident involving someone else’s negligence, contact the injury lawyers at Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law for a free consultation at our Chattanooga office today. Proudly serving Cleveland, TN, North Georgia, and the surrounding areas.
Wagner & Wagner is one of the longest-established law firms in Chattanooga. With more than seven decades of proven legal experience, our law practice has steadily grown through repeat business, valuable referrals and a tradition of client satisfaction. Learn More