EMDR Therapy: What is It, Effectiveness & More
If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, you might consider EMDR therapy. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and it has been proven effective in treating trauma-related conditions.
The psychological stress from traumatic memories can significantly hinder a person’s ability to function in their day-to-day life. EMDR might help ease some of these intrusive symptoms.
What Is EMDR Therapy?
Trauma changes the way a person’s brain functions. One reason is that our brains have difficulty processing traumatic events; they can’t understand them like regular occurrences. Therefore, psychologists, psychotherapists, and other mental health researchers consider them “unprocessed.”
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a modality that helps your brain unblock and then properly digest and store these distressing memories. The most significant problems associated with PTSD are not the memories themselves. Instead, it’s the things the patient must do to cope and function with them. These maladaptive behaviors often have detrimental effects on a person’s life.
EMDR seeks to get between the memory and the brain’s automatic response. By helping organize traumatic events, EMDR allows the patient’s brain to react to intrusive memories more calmly. While the memories are still unpleasant, they do not trigger the patient’s fight-or-flight response and send them into physical and mental distress.
EMDR is not talk therapy and is often effective for people who have difficulty verbalizing their experiences. Still, EMDR is not a “cure” for trauma; it can’t undo the past. But by softening how the brain responds to stimuli, EMDR releases the patient from needing to use maladaptive coping mechanisms or hide from the world.
What Is EMDR Therapy Used For?
EMDR is used primarily to treat mental health conditions that stem from traumatic experiences, especially PTSD. Limited data is available about its use for other disorders, although EMDR doesn’t appear harmful for other conditions. Some mental health practitioners also use it to treat:
It’s also worth noting that some of these conditions (and others) can have a trauma as an underlying cause. Therefore, using EMDR might help, especially when paired with other modalities.
What Does an EMDR Session Look Like?
During your EMDR session, you will focus on a single aspect of your traumatic history and the thoughts, beliefs, and sensations (physical and mental) it evokes. Typically, you’ll work with your psychotherapist and EMDR therapist (if your primary therapist doesn’t practice it) to decide what to focus on before the actual session.
As you allow your mind to dwell on these unpleasant and uncomfortable thoughts, the EMDR therapist guides you through simple steps that may include eye movements, tapping, or other sounds and tactical sensations. As they do so, they will ask you to notice how your thoughts about the trauma shift.
The EMDR practices that your therapist guides you through while you think about your traumatic event allow your brain to “open up” and process those thoughts in a completely new way which can help you heal.
How Many Sessions Do I Need?
You’ll work with your mental health practitioners to determine how many sessions of EMDR you need. It varies greatly depending on a person’s trauma history, responsiveness to treatment, and other factors.
What Should I Expect Following an EMDR Session?
Again, this varies, and there are mitigating factors. You may notice no immediate impact or feel tired and drained. Others feel lighter or relieved afterward. Don’t worry; you and your therapist will work through any and all sensations related to the sessions. Make detailed notes of what comes up so you can discuss it in your next meeting.
What To Do Before Trying EMDR Therapy
EMDR is safe and effective with little to no adverse side effects. Some people experience lightheadedness or other conditions described above, but because it’s so safe, you don’t need to hesitate to try it.
Many people try EMDR after having difficulty processing traumatic events through talk therapy. Either way, you’ll need to seek a licensed mental health practitioner to work with and start seeing them regularly for at least a few weeks before starting EMDR.
You need to learn some crucial grounding and mindfulness skills before beginning EMDR. If troubling emotions arise, you have the tools to handle them. You also need to achieve relative mental and physical stability.
Schedule an EMDR Therapy Session in Rockwall, TX
EMDR has transformed the lives of many people. If you have PTSD or trauma-related symptoms, there is a strong chance it can help you. Call us today to learn more and get a free quote. We can discuss our services, EMDR, and how we can help you regain control over your life.