For some people, the thought of trying a new therapy like EMDR is exciting. However, it makes some people anxious. Both of these feelings are valid! Continue reading to learn about what EMDR therapy is and how it could benefit you.
What is EMDR therapy?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR therapy re-works how trauma has been stored in the brain. Research proves that EMDR is an effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). With that being said, both clinicians and clients have reported success using EMDR to treat:
- Panic attacks
- Personality disorders
- Disturbing memories
- Eating disorders
- Performance anxiety
- Pain disorders
What does EMDR therapy do?
EMDR helps people process disturbing thoughts and traumatic experiences. Often, after a traumatic event, people have flashbacks or nightmares. So, EMDR therapy helps you move through
stuck” memories that cause these sensations. In other words, EMDR helps the brain process these “stuck” memories and store them in a healthier way.
To clarify, EMDR therapy moves troublesome memories from an unsafe storage space in the brain to a safer place. As a result, stored memories are less likely to cause negative sensations. For example, flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, and dissociation.
How does EMDR work?
Firstly, the brain must be stimulated. This is done using back and forth movements. These movements connect the right and left sides of the brain, awakening it. Secondly, the client thinks about an image, body sensation, or emotion connected to an unwanted memory. This may sound a bit scary, but a skilled EMDR therapist will gently guide you through this process.
Further, the movements stimulate the brain. When the brain is stimulated and the thought is brought up, the memory is moved. Most importantly, it is moved from a part of the brain that allows it to intrude your thoughts and bodily sensations. EMDR therapy guides the memory to a part of the brain that is safer.
To sum up, the goal of EMDR therapy is to help the brain resolved unprocessed trauma. The combination of the movements and verbally processing with a therapist allows the brain to resolve unpleasant memories.
But really, how does EMDR work?
EMDR therapy utilizes the brain’s natural healing ability. At the beginning of working with an EDMR therapist, you will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory.
Next, begin the rapid, back and forth movements. This is called tapping. There are options for tapping, dependent on the therapist’s and client’s preferences. Furthermore, there are visual (sight), tactile (touch), and auditory (sound) options. For example, using visual tapping means making quick back and forth movements with the eyes. Likewise, an example of tactile tapping is the client holding a pulser or tapper in each of the hands to mimic the back and forth movement. Auditory tapping can take place using sound in both ears, again, mimicking the back and forth movement. The technical name for these back and forth, rhythmic movements is bilateral stimulation.
While bilateral stimulation is happening, the therapist speaks to you. An EMDR therapist will ask questions and let you explore the emotions that come up. The pairing of bilateral stimulation and talking helps lessen the power of a traumatic memory. EMDR therapy helps you reprocess memories from the past that are causing current issues. Reprocessing helps these older memories get stored correctly in the brain. Thus, emotions, thoughts, and sensory perceptions are no longer triggering when brought up.
What is the goal of EMDR therapy?
The goal of EMDR therapy is for clients to think of a memory and it feels like just that – a memory. Whereas, before EMDR therapy, the same memory could have triggered a panic attack or dissociation. Another benefit of EMDR therapy is the replacement of harmful beliefs or ideas. This allows for a more positive ideas to take hold. For example, perhaps an adult has never processed the divorce of their parents as a child. So, they have believed for decades that the divorce was their fault. But, after reprocessing the disturbing experience, the client can create a healthier belief. This healthier belief could be “I was a child who had no control over the separation of my parents. I am out of that situation now. I am safe.” To sum up, the goal of EMDR is to help clients resolve trauma that has happened at any point in life.
How long does EMDR therapy take?
EMDR therapy is most effective when done in multiple sessions. At least one session is required for a trained EMDR therapist to understand the problem. Then, they decide if EMDR therapy is an appropriate treatment for the issue. Once the therapist and client have agreed that EMDR therapy is appropriate, the process may begin.
Technically speaking, EMDR consists of 8 Phases:
- History Taking
- Assessment & Reprocessing
- Body Scan
We know that each client and their experiences are unique! Some clients may move through these eight phases rather quickly. However, other clients may work with an EMDR therapist for an extended period of time. Our trauma therapists want to work with you at your pace. At our counseling center, EMDR sessions can be scheduled for 60 to 90 minutes. Session length depends on the therapist and client’s preference and need at the time.
Can EMDR be done during a normal session?
Yes! EMDR can be done during any counseling session. However, it is helpful to plan for a long session (90 minutes) when engaging in EMDR. We encourage you to discuss session length with your therapist beforehand. The length of your session could depend on what specific memories you are working through.
Overall, EMDR is a great method to help resolve trauma. EMDR is also effective in treating anxiety, panic, and PTSD. Similarly, EMDR therapy can be helpful in treating addictions, eating disorders, and attachment disorders. Our counselors can help you decide if EMDR is a good fit for your therapy needs.
Will I remain in control during an EMDR session?
Of course! Clients remain in control, fully alert, and wide-awake during EMDR. Certainly, the process can be stopped at any time. Throughout the session, the counselor will support and guide your healing. The therapist will intervene as little as possible. And, reprocessing usually happens spontaneously. Therefore, new connections and insights often come up naturally. As a result, most people feel EMDR is a natural and empowering process.
Is EMDR like hypnosis?
EMDR is not like hypnosis. During EMDR, a person is completely present and conscious to their thoughts. Certainly, a person never goes into a trance or any altered state of mind.
EMDR client testimonials
Clients we have worked with in the past often report positive results from EMDR. Some clients even feel a difference after one or two sessions! Past clients have claimed to feel:
- More relaxed
- Improved ability to focus
- Better sleep quality
- Higher quality relationships
- Decrease in irritability or anger
- Being able to live in the moment instead of feeling “stuck” in the past
Best of all, our clients have said that now they can comfortably talk about traumatic experiences. They can do this without the emotional “rush” they did prior to working with an EMDR therapist.
More on trauma and EMDR therapy
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) has been around since 1989. EMDR is one of the most researched, effective, and efficient psychotherapy treatments. Therefore, it is used to treat a variety of issues. Some of these issues include post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex trauma (C-PTSD), panic attacks, and anxiety. Likewise, EMDR can treat phobias, childhood traumas, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, or grief and loss. Because EMDR is a proven, evidenced-based approach, many mental health organizations promote and support EMDR. A few of these organizations are:
- American Psychiatric Association
- International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
- U.S. Department of Health
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- U.S. Department of Defense
- The World Health Organization
Begin EMDR therapy in Castle Rock, CO!
You deserve to live free from the past. If you’d like to work on getting “unstuck,” we’d like to accompany you on the journey. We believe that working with a trauma therapist can be an impactful piece of your healing. And, we would be honored to be a part of it. Follow the steps below to get started with an EMDR therapist at Authentic Connections Counseling Center in Castle Rock, CO!
- Call our office at (720) 370-3010 x100.
- Talk to our caring Intake Coordinator, Blair, about scheduling an appointment.
- Start working with an EMDR therapist and feeling better!
Other Services at Authentic Connections Counseling Center
Our counselors at AC3 have many areas of expertise, allowing us to offer a variety of services. Some of our individual counseling services include anxiety and depression treatment as well as perinatal mental health counseling. One of more unique individual services offered is trail therapy. We also work with couples for marriage counseling and discernment counseling. We want to come alongside you in whatever you are struggling with and help you heal. Contact us today!