EMDR - Part 1: What Is It Anyway & Is It For You?
When I was invited to write a post on EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), I wasn’t sure where to start. EMDR, in my opinion, is best understood through experiencing, and isn’t easily explained through words. But, since I like a challenge and I really believe in EMDR, here it goes…
For many people, the idea of going to therapy brings up images of talking. Lots of talking. And while traditional talk therapy is great and super helpful for many people, there’s another, equally great, option out there. One that requires far less talking, a lot more “noticing”, and quite a bit of eye movement.
Sounds a little hokey– I know. And you may be thinking: “Eye movement? As therapy? And less talking? How can that work?” Full disclosure: when I first encountered this method I was really skeptical, and had those same thoughts.
It seemed inconceivable to me that something so seemingly simple, that didn’t require full-on narratives about your experiences, or a ton of time analyzing statements/thoughts/feelings, could possibly help anyone. Especially to the same extent that traditional therapy does. But after reading (a lot), checking out the research (here’s some, and here’s some more), attending trainings, and experiencing it myself – I’m convinced.
This animation does a great job of briefly explaining what EMDR is and how it works:
Some other important things to know about EMDR include:
It generally works faster than traditional talk therapy.
It addresses the past, present and future to promote more all-encompassing effects.
It requires much less talking than traditional talk therapy.
The effects are generalized – meaning that by working through one specific memory, thought, or experience, the positive effects can carry-over to other aspects of your life.
Many people find success with EMDR, even if they haven’t experienced success with traditional talk therapy.
EMDR is designated as an effective treatment for PTSD by numerous national and international organizations. It is also successfully used with other conditions, challenges, and life experiences, like:
Grief and loss
You might want to consider EMDR if you:
Feel “stuck” with traditional therapy or trying to process things on your own
Feel like you’ve reached a plateau (maybe even after making big strides), but haven’t quite reached the level of healing you were hoping for
Have experienced trauma or other challenging life experiences that you can’t seem to fully put words to, or that discussing at length feels more scary than helpful
Have been experiencing pain, tension, or physical sensations in your body that aren’t explained medically, or that you think may be related to stress or your life experiences
Know that you have stressors or challenges you want to address, but are worried about how long traditional therapy will take to process through them
As with all therapy, it’s still super important to have a good relationship with your therapist. And, as a bonus, you can still use all those coping skills you’ve been working so hard to acquire - because that’s a big piece of EMDR, too. If you’re looking for another option - one that might help you to decrease the intensity of some current or past experiences/memories/thoughts/emotions – then I’d encourage you to check out EMDR. If you’d like more information about EMDR, or would like to try it for yourself, please reach out.
In Part 2 of this blog series, I’ll share more about how EMDR actually works, and what to expect from a session.
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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]