EMDR vs Neurofeedback: Application of Both - Reynolds Clinic

Closing Practice Letter

EMDR and Neurofeedback Two Alternative Treatments For Dealing With Trauma Or Other Brain Issues

Eye examination

The brain is the most complex organ in the body, and even with all of the recent advancements in medical knowledge, there are still thousands of issues within the brain that the medical community does not fully comprehend or understand.

If you or a loved one is currently dealing with some form of trauma, then your doctor may consider two alternative methods of treatment. It is essential to understand that neither treatment is deemed to be superior to the other, but rather some people may have better results with one type of treatment and others with the second alternative.

What Is EMDR

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing is a technique that is used to help your brain find a solution to dealing with previous traumatic experiences. For many people, once they have lived through some traumatic experience, such as being robbed, a car accident or domestic abuse, one of the most challenging issues is when the brain continues to replay the incident in your mind.

Perhaps you might lie down to go to sleep at night, and all of a sudden your brain is filled with memories of the traumatic experience. You might hear shouting from the incident, or see everything happening in slow motion repeatedly. This can be almost as traumatic as the original incident, in some ways worse, because the episode becomes indelibly burned into your brain.

The memories that are causing the flashbacks, stress, and fear need to be dealt with by your brain. Unfortunately, once you have those memories, your mind cannot merely unlearn them.

The concept of EMDR is to try and reprogram your brain, to help it find ways of reducing the stress and horror of the incident, and prevent the brain from becoming overwhelmed.

EMDR was developed in the 1980’s by Dr. Francine Shapiro, a leading American Psychologist, and is a form of psychotherapy. EMDR consists of a series of eight different phases. Phase one could easily be called the getting to know you stage, as it provides your therapist with the opportunity to understand any issues and challenges you are experiencing, in certain circumstances, the therapist might even decide that EMDR is not the best solution and suggest alternative forms of treatment.

The next part of the treatment is designed to let the patient answer any questions they may have. The therapist will also introduce some relaxation techniques, to be used during the treatment, and if necessary at times of stress, in everyday life.

Stages 3 to 6 involve revisiting the traumatic experiences that are causing the problems, at which point the therapist will use left and right stimulation by the use of visuals or sounds, to help reduce the stress and change the perception of the memory within the brain. After each session, the therapist may ask for feedback on how, if at all, the stress levels have

changed when recalling the traumatic event. This part of the treatment will continue until any signs of distress have either disappeared or have reduced dramatically.

The seventh stage is focused on relaxation, using the skills and techniques that were introduced in the second stage. Finally, the last stage of EMDR is the opportunity for reflection. A discussion will normally take place between the therapist and the patient, assessing how well the patient is coping with that specific incident, and if so, are there any other incidents which need to be worked on.

What Is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback focuses on the way the brain and brain waves work to effectively retrain the brain to operate in a more efficient and helpful matter. Think of the people you know well, some people are high strung and quick to fly off the handle. Others are very laid back, and takes a lot to get them stressed.

The basic explanation for the difference between these two people is that their brain has acquired certain behaviors and traits which are represented as electrical impulses within the brain. Due to modern technology with the use of sensors attached to the scalp, a therapist can observe and analyze the brain activity, and then come up with ways to re-educate or re­train the brain.

This can be accomplished quite easily by a reward style system. Let’s imagine that the patient is a huge fan of Brad Paisley’s music. They will be put in a room with the sensors attached and have the opportunity to listen to his music. However, if the brain shows any signs of stress or anxiety, the music will instantly stop, and the only way the patient can get the music to resume is by relaxing and changing the pattern and movement of their brainwaves.

As they become more proficient at controlling their brainwaves and feelings, the level of difficulty it takes to get the music playing can be altered, pushing the patient and making the procedure more difficult. Much like physical muscle memory, the more the brain learns how to perform a specific task better, the easier it will become, and eventually, that state will become the normal resting state for the brain. Remember that your brain has learned its current behavior over some years, so it is essential to understand that this reprogramming of the brain will take time and repetition.

The above two examples are just some of the various options available to patients who are suffering from brain trauma issues. Locations such as the Reynolds Clinic, for instance, have had fantastic results with Neurofeedback, so the important thing to remember if you are dealing with some sort of brain issue is not to give up hope. Conduct some research, speak to different doctors, and most of all do not suffer in silence.