EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a different type of therapy. It incorporates elements from several evidence based therapies, which is what makes it so effective. Think of it as a “super-therapy”. Unlike traditional talk therapy, the primary focus of EMDR is not based on conversation between the therapist and client. It is an 8 phase structured treatment. One of those phases incorporates bi-lateral stimulation, a process in which the client works through distressing material by engaging in eye movements or a series of tapping on alternate sides of the body. EMDR has been proven effective in multiple different studies over time, all of which have shown that the effects are maintained over time. Thinking of getting started with EMDR? Here are seven ways it can improve your life.
There is a very strong connection to our hearts and our minds, but sometimes that connection has been lost. Have you ever been in a situation that you KNOW what the right thing to do/think/feel would be, but you just can’t get yourself to actually do it? You get stuck between knowing and doing. There may be something blocking you, literally holding you back. EMDR can help to bridge the gap between what we know and what we feel. Sometimes there are old memories that we do not think have any correlation to our current way of feeling. EMDR helps to make those connections. It is only then that we can take action and make the changes we want.
Becoming a Therapy Success Story
Have you spent months or years trying therapy, switching therapists, but still haven’t been able to achieve the goals that you set out for yourself? Research has shown that EMDR has helped patients achieve results that previously took years to occur. In traditional talk therapy, you can gain insight into yourself and your own patterns. Awareness, however, is sometimes not enough to help you change those patterns. EMDR focuses on getting to the core belief about yourself and uncovering how that belief came to be. This involves looking at memories from the past and present, as well as future possibilities that are causing distress. Once you accomplish this, you can finally feel successful and notice a change within yourself.
The earliest relationships in our lives set the stage for how we will act and feel in our future ones. Have you noticed a pattern in your relationships? Perhaps it’s your romantic relationships, or maybe it’s with your peers or co-workers? Whatever the case may be, there may be a reason why it is difficult for you to connect with others. The structured process of EMDR helps to look at other relationships and the effect they may have had on you. This is done in a safe and nurturing environment so that you feel comfortable revisiting old relationships and memories. Working through those experiences with EMDR can help you to change the patterns in your current relationships.
Leave History in the Past
Trauma is a subjective word. What is traumatic to once person may not affect another in the same way. It’s important to note that you have the right to feel any way you want about something that happened. Perhaps you did not think of it as “traumatic” necessarily, but it certainly was stressful. Children, especially, are more sensitive than adults. Something as simple as falling on the playground can feel traumatic to them.
If you’ve experienced any form of trauma, such as loss of a loved one, sexual abuse, auto accidents, or childhood abuse, just to name a few, you do not have to deal with it on your own. You do not have to be haunted by upsetting images or thoughts. EMDR enables you to move past your past so that you can feel peaceful in your present.
Greater Control of Your Emotions
Adults and children alike also have the tendency to minimize their experiences, saying that “it’s not a big deal”, “whatever, it doesn’t matter”, etc. Dismissing your emotions, however, does more harm than good. Eventually the time will come that you will no longer be able to hold things in, and that’s when everything comes out at once. Emotions can overwhelm you and show up as anger, panic attacks, or bouts of sobbing. EMDR helps you to accept your own emotions associated to an event and help you work through them. The end result? Your emotions don’t control your life, you do.
Improved your Sleep
Do you have nightmares? Difficulty falling asleep? Or staying asleep? Almost all medical and mental professionals say the same thing – sleep is one of the most important factors to physical and emotional health. But what if you can’t sleep? That makes this whole physical/mental wellness thing even more challenging. It’s a vicious cycle. EMDR helps to stop that cycle by getting to the underlying issue that is causing the battle with your bed. Whether it’s racing thoughts at night, or recurring nightmares that wake you up and keep you up, the EMDR approach helps to stop those thoughts, improve your sense of relaxation so you can have a restful nights sleep.
Good-Bye Chronic Pain
There has been extensive research that shows a history of trauma is highly correlated with chronic pain (Linton, 1997; Wuertele, Kaplan & Keairnes, 1990). Any anyone suffering with chronic pain would probably agree that the pain is a trauma in-and-of itself. The inability to have any sense of relief for extended periods of time can leave you feeling exhausted, hopeless and frustrated. There is a way to get relief. EMDR helps decrease the level emotional distress, as well as alleviate the chronic pain itself.
Dana Carretta is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and founder of Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling, PLLC, in Hartsdale, NY. She specializes in clinical psychotherapy to treat children, adolescents and adults with anxiety, behavior and trauma difficulties. Dana has also been a private psychotherapist at Mindful Psychotherapy, LLC, located in Norwalk, CT since 2013.