Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a technique that uses eye movements. The eye movements are a form of bilateral stimulation that reduces the intensity and vividness of traumatic memories. Intrusive thoughts, memories, and reexperiencing are symptoms of trauma disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
EMDR is also an effective treatment for anxiety, stress, phobias, grief, and OCD. EMDR helps one to process past events and understand them more objectively. EMDR also regulates emotions and calms the nervous system. When people can come out of fight or flight, they can think, sleep, and function better. EMDR enables one to step out of chronic stress.
- Comfort: Therapy can be uncomfortable. Part of this discomfort is speaking about things you prefer to avoid. EMDR is a therapy where you do not need to talk unless you want to. Part of the reason that processing trauma through EMDR is less intense than talk therapy is because of the bodily element. Trauma is stored in the body and can be accessed through EMDR. You can keep your body as comfortable as you like when you are online. You can sit in a recliner, lie down, or have your pet, blanket, or anything else you need.
- Safety: Having EMDR online ensures that you do not have to travel before or after the session. Processing trauma can often leave people feeling spaced out or disassociated. After the session, if you are home, you can go lie down. People often like to take some time to process by themselves after a session. You can choose how you want to do that if you are home.
- Time: You can save time by not traveling to the clinician’s office. Saving on traveling time also means scheduling your session and planning your day is more manageable. Instead of waiting in an office, you can stay somewhere more comfortable.
Whether EMDR is online or in person, it follows a specific sequence. Before you can begin EMDR, your clinician needs to know more about you. They might want to know more about your family, trauma, and relationship history. They might also be curious if you have tried other forms of treatment before.
Sometimes, the clinician might want to do resourcing with you before they process with you. Resourcing is a tool that is used to calm down your nervous system. It includes using imagery and an EMDR technique that allows you to feel safe and peaceful.
During an EMDR processing session, the therapist will ask you to bring up the traumatic or stressful memory. You will notice that when you think about the event, you might feel your emotions are activated. The activation is what is reduced and desensitized with the eye movements. Over time, the EMDR will help to place the event in the past. When the event is in the past, it no longer becomes intrusive. It becomes a memory instead of a nightmare.
Other benefits of EMDR are:
- Feeling more in control of your life: Struggling with the challenges of anxiety, fear, and trauma can leave you feeling out of control. Sometimes, when people search for control, they develop hypervigilance. This constant search for threats can lead to feelings of helplessness, fear, and exhaustion. EMDR can help you feel more in control of your emotions and decisions. Intrusive memories and thoughts will be minimized.
- Becoming a calmer person: EMDR helps your nervous system to feel more peaceful. When you feel calmer, you will be able to handle situations with ease. Being relaxed also allows one to respond and not to react.
- Confidence: You feel more self-worth when you realize your symptoms are reducing. It can be troublesome to think of what your symptoms might indicate. Shame is a common symptom of unhealed trauma and anxiety. EMDR also enables one to practice self-compassion.
Though EMDR sounds intimidating, it can be an empowering and healing process. If you are hypervigilant, anxious, have intrusive thoughts, are not sleeping or eating well, can’t sleep, focus, or function as well as you like, EMDR can help.
If you or someone you know would benefit from professional mental health support, please reach out to book an appointment with Dr. Monica Borschel here. Dr. Monica Borschel specialises in attachment and loss and is experienced in helping adults, teens, children, and families adjust to anxiety, trauma, abuse, divorce, separation, loss of a loved one, and loss of finance.