If you’ve researched anything about trauma treatment lately, you’ve probably stumbled across eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. It’s increased in popularity in recent years, and for a good reason.
EMDR therapy is evidence-based, efficient, and effective. Numerous meta-analyses show that just a few EMDR sessions can have a profound benefit in reducing PTSD symptoms and decreasing how someone reacts to stressful or traumatic material.
In addition to achieving trauma resolution, EMDR can also be beneficial for treating anxiety disorders, substance abuse, dissociative disorders, depression, and eating disorders. If you’ve had a stressful or traumatic event happen in your life, it may be worth giving this therapy a try!
What Happens During EMDR Treatment?
EMDR therapy follows eight phases. By the final phase, your traumatic memories will no longer result in such significant emotional distress.
While you won’t forget what happened to you, your negative emotions will decrease in intensity. In addition, you will have adopted more positive beliefs about yourself and the world around you.
EMDR therapy starts with building a sense of safety and connection. It’s important to access the full range of emotions and body sensations during this work. Therefore, building a trusting relationship with your therapist is essential. At this time, you will also learn coping strategies to manage activated emotions.
EMDR implements bilateral stimulation to focus on a targeted memory (stressful or traumatic experience) while participating in rapid eye movement exercises. You will experience various sensations and thoughts during this time. This is normal, and it’s important to safely process them during EMDR.
The healing process of EMDR entails accessing distressing events with these rapid eye movements. This is known as reprocessing, and it helps ‘repair’ the mental effects of your trauma.
Does EMDR Work For Everyone?
No single therapy is effective for everyone, and finding what works best for you can sometimes represent a trial-and-error process. That said, EMDR can be particularly beneficial for people who have:
- symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- histories of development trauma or complex trauma
- not experienced significant relief from other trauma treatment models
- the openness to learn about the connection between their mind and body sensations
- the desire to cope with their emotional pain and make mental and biological changes
EMDR can be used as a standalone method, but many practitioners use it as an integrative approach with other therapies.
7 Signs You Should Consider EMDR
There isn’t a right time to start the EMDR process, but a qualified EMDR therapist can help assess whether this treatment approach might be helpful for you.
Keep in mind that the therapeutic relationship is one of the most important parts of EMDR processing. More than anything, you need to feel comfortable and safe with your provider. This rapport process may take time, and that’s okay.
Although research shows that EMDR therapy tends to provide faster relief than more conventional talk therapies, the goal isn’t to feel ‘cured’ as quickly as possible. Instead, successful EMDR therapy includes extensive preparation and safe processing.
You Feel Stuck In Past Trauma
Even if the stressful event or trauma occurred many years ago, it may seem like certain experiences happened yesterday. That’s because the body stores those experiences, and your nervous system may be hypervigilant in detecting potential stressors.
If you feel stuck, it may signify that you haven’t resolved what’s happened to you in the past. This is common in cases of childhood trauma. Even if you feel like you’ve “moved on,” certain people or triggers may send you right back into the past.
You Don’t Feel Like You’ve Made Enough Progress in Other Therapies
Talk therapy is valuable, but all therapies have their limitations. Furthermore, not all mental health practitioners have trauma-informed training. And even if you sought help for another issue (like anxiety or depression), you may not have felt like you “gained enough” if you didn’t address your trauma.
You Feel Like You Can’t Access Your Emotions
Many people who have trauma in their background struggle to identify, access, or regulate their emotions. If this is the case for you, emotions often feel threatening. You may have learned to cut them off altogether. Or you feel overwhelmed by them, and they may dictate your every move.
EMDR allows you to safely access your emotions. It’s a form of structured exposure therapy that allows you to get in touch with your body and understand how distressing events affect you emotionally.
You Struggle With Poor Impulse Control
Trauma is a significant risk factor for issues like substance use or other impulse control issues.
People who don’t heal from their complex trauma histories often find themselves in vicious, self-sabotaging cycles. And it makes sense. If your emotions feel overwhelming- or if the trauma becomes activated- you cope in the best ways you know how. Confronting your feelings head-on often feels much too vulnerable.
By processing your trauma, you will likely have more self-compassion and kindness for yourself. Over time, this will lead to you treating yourself with more care and respect.
You Keep Reliving Painful Events
It’s common for people who have experienced a stressful event or trauma to relive certain parts of their emotional distress. This can happen in the case of single incidents, but it can also happen when developmental trauma occurs.
EMDR does entail revisiting parts of the past, but it isn’t about staying there. It’s about creating new neural pathways for how your brain responds to traumatic events.
You Think (Or Know) You Have PTSD
PTSD can affect every part of your functioning, and it can coincide with symptoms like panic attacks, avoidance behaviors, hypervigilance, and stunted emotional growth. EMDR therapy is consistently recommended as a gold standard method for trauma treatment, and this applies to both children and adults.
You Aren’t Exactly Sure If You Had Trauma (But Life Has Felt ‘Rough’)
Trauma isn’t always so easy to define, and many people have experienced a very stressful event or traumatic experience without realizing it. With that in mind, EMDR isn’t about distinguishing whether you’ve had a trauma. It’s about validating your distress and recognizing how your pain affects your emotional well-being.
And, if life felt rough- or if childhood seemed less-than-ideal, you may actually be experiencing symptoms of trauma. It’s possible that you have internalized your experiences and dismissed them (as many people who have had trauma do).
Starting EMDR Therapy in Seattle
Many people find that EMDR treatment dramatically transforms their lives. That’s not to say this method is a cure (there is no such thing!). But EMDR allows you to heal from traumatic memories and adopt a more positive belief system about yourself and the world around you.
As a trauma-informed therapist, I am passionate about the benefits of EMDR and have seen how much it has helped my clients thrive. No matter what stressful or traumatic event you endured, your past does not have to define your emotional well-being any longer.
We will work together to rewrite the story of your past, and your treatment process will be grounded in a sense of safety. I know how challenging change can be, and I would be honored to support you on your growth journey.
Begin Online EMDR Therapy in Seattle, WA
I provide online EMDR treatment for clients in Seattle and Washington State. You can learn to manage your trauma symptoms and live a meaningful life. Contact me today to schedule your initial consultation. You can start your therapy journey with Inner Wisdom Counseling by following these steps:
- Schedule a free 20- minute consultation.
- Meet the skilled and licensed therapist
- Start your journey to feeling better today!
Other Counseling Services at Inner Wisdom
Challenges in life can feel complex to manage. It can be helpful to seek support to learn coping skills and have a space to break down challenges in a digestible way in order to live life to the fullest. Inner Wisdom offers an array of services in addition to EMDR therapy. Other mental health services offered include depression treatment, treatment for anxiety, and life transitions therapy. LGBTQIA+ therapy and online therapy are also offered across the state of Washington. Contact inner Wisdom today!