What is EMDR?
Standing for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR is a specialized kind of therapy that allows traumatic memories to become desensitized, losing some of their emotional intensity. EMDR is an 8 step process. That process does NOT begin with the trauma processing itself. Instead, the therapist ensures that you have a stockpile of effective coping skills and resources to aid you in the trauma processing experience prior to beginning any sort of trauma processing. The goal throughout the therapy is to provide relief to trauma triggers and not to re-traumatize you in the re-telling of experiences. Only once a clear plan has been developed and coping skills are in place will the therapist guide you through the re-processing experience. Re-processing often involves specialized eye movements that the therapists guides you through while you simultaneously access a specific traumatic memory or severe fear. The two elements use both halves of your brain to more effectively neutralize the negative emotions and desensitizing the memory. The goal of EMDR is not to erase the memory, it’s to reprogram it so that it’s less traumatic.
What conditions can EMDR help with?
There are a lot of different situations in which EMDR can be helpful, making it popular for therapists and counselors around the world. It is best known for helping those clients who are recovering from a traumatic experience or those diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, research is indicating that EMDR may also be helpful with conditions such as anxiety/panic disorders, grief, severe fears or phobias, and even “common” problems such as self-esteem issues or anger issues.
How is it helpful with trauma?
There are a lot of ways the EMDR can be helpful to dealing with trauma. This specific kind of therapy can not only help someone heal from a trauma experience, but also improve their quality of life. For example, EMDR can be helpful with:
- Identifying the root memory: One key step in the EMDR process is uncovering where the trauma comes from, which can be helpful in understand when, where, and how it started.
- Processing the memory in a healthy way: EMDR is all about seeing the memory from a different point of view in terms of making it less traumatic and overwhelming. This perspective shifting plays a major role in the healing process.
- Improving your quality of life: EMDR tends to be helpful in reducing trauma triggers and reducing the impacts of trauma in your life.
What are the risks of EMDR therapy?
EMDR does not come without potential risks. Though EMDR tends to be gentle and stress-reducing, there is a potential risk of an increase in flashbacks, nightmares, or anxiety, usually in the short-term. Other memories may also resurface as trauma processing starts up that may be distressing. If you are in recovery from an addiction, EMDR processing may trigger feelings that, in the past, may have lead to a relapse. If you are a person in recovery (or actively use substances to cope with feelings), this will be something you should disclose to your therapist.
The EMDR therapists on the Star Meadow Counseling team will fully review the risks and benefits of EMDR therapy with you in helping determine if it is a therapeutic approach that might be a fit for you.
EMDR can offer real results for people dealing with trauma. For those looking for options alternative to traditional talk therapy, this may just be the right fit.
Want to read more from our blog? Check out one of these articles:
When was the last time you heard from your inner critic? You know, that voice in your head that constantly judges you, puts you down and compares you to others. The one that tells you you’re not good enough or smart enough and says things you would never dream of...
Fear of failure causes us to put the brakes on our life. When we’re so afraid of failing at something, we either don’t try at all, or we subconsciously undermine our own efforts to avoid an even bigger failure. Without question, fear of failure is immobilizing and,...
Have you ever been so dejected or depressed that you began to question your worth as a person? What triggered that moment for you? Was it: A rejection, break-up, or abandonment? A harsh word or critique that hit like an arrow in the heart? A failure to live up to your...
Are you among the millions of people that have lost work since a state of emergency was declared last month? Employment numbers keep rising across the country. And those numbers don’t account for those whose applications for unemployment remain in limbo. There is an...
As we adjust to a new normal that includes self-quarantining, a shift in plans and routines, and significant uncertainty, it’s important to find ways to maintain our mental and emotional health. We’ve gathered some recommendations here, but strongly encourage you to...
Life is challenging when you’re an introvert. What are simple interactions for many people can feel anxious and uncomfortable to you. The mere idea of taking part in certain social events can be exhausting and emotionally draining to an introvert. While some social...