Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy that can help people to recover and heal from past traumatic incidents, stressful experiences, grief, anxiety, or largely any other challenging life situation. EMDR helps the person to process through unresolved memories, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions in order to move forward with their life and no longer have to think about or be bothered by the past event as much or as frequently.
We receive tons of phone calls at our office from clients seeking out EMDR treatment. We have created this short guide to answer some of the most common questions about how the treatment works, how long it takes, and what it can do.
WHAT IT IS
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a unique and powerful therapy for helping people deal with stress, trauma, painful memories and places in their lives where they are stuck. EMDR specifically targets traumas that have been “locked” in the brain, but can also be used for events that are not considered trauma in the traditional sense, such as ongoing teasing while in school, chronic childhood illness, etc.
After experiencing a traumatic or stressful situation, negative thoughts and beliefs about the self can dominate. Generally, these are thoughts of not being good enough, not being safe, or not being in control. These beliefs of inadequacy, helplessness, or powerlessness can contribute to patterns of depression and anxiety, impacting most areas of your life. Negative feelings can also become stuck within you, leading you to experience those negative feelings in the present even though they’re connected to the past. These feelings can impact your view of current situations. Negative sensations associated with those feelings also surface and you may try to “avoid” experiencing them. Over time, these experiences can build up and lead to depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
Part of what makes EMDR so effective is that it does not just address your thoughts and feelings, as regular psychotherapy does, but creates a mind-body connection. This is achieved by assisting you in combining your memories with how your body feels, what emotions you may have, what negative thoughts come up for you, and what sensations you experience in your body as you remember these past experiences. EMDR works by both de-sensitizing you to past experiences, so that old memories no longer seem so upsetting, and by helping you move towards closure as you begin to think about your past in a new way.
EMDR a trauma treatment that has been empirically validated in over 24 randomized studies with trauma victims. Substantial scientific research has established EMDR as effective for treating posttraumatic stress. It has been effective in treating trauma, PTSD, sexual and/or physical abuse, and disturbing memories, as well as phobias, panic attacks, performance anxiety, complicated grief, and stress reduction.
HOW IT WORKS
Before beginning EMDR, your therapist will teach you coping skills and strategies to feel safe and grounded, increase your resiliency, and help you learn to self-regulate your emotions. Once you’re prepared, you’ll identify negative feelings and beliefs that you may have developed as a result of the trauma you experienced. For example, you may hold a belief that you are unlovable, experience disturbing thoughts or images, or feel uncomfortable physical sensations in your body. The EMDR process helps you to release the impact of trauma from your mind and body so that you can feel stronger, safer, and more secure.
Each person processes trauma in a different way. Your therapist at Tampa Therapy will guide you in building resources to prepare you for the EMDR phase of therapy. Once beginning the process, you may begin to notice positive shifts within 3-5 sessions. Some clients achieve their goals within 8-12 sessions, and for those with complex or developmental trauma, it may take longer. EMDR works best when used in conjunction with traditional therapy, meaning you may want additional therapy sessions to process and integrate your experience.
WE CAN HELP
If you are looking to finally resolve past hurts, trauma, painful memories, complex childhood difficulties, regain or strengthen your confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem, we would love to help. EMDR is a treatment that can be used with a wide array of presenting problems. Whatever the reason, give us a call or send us an email. Remember, there are many reasons why people seek therapy. Professional mental health assistance can greatly benefit you in many ways, including making important changes in your life.
We are committed to providing therapy and counseling services in a comfortable, relaxing, encouraging, and non-judgmental environment to yield the most realistic and best outcomes. Give us a call or email us today to schedule an appointment.