In a recent blog post, we discussed how EMDR Therapy can be used to treat children and teens with anxiety, performance, bullying, or self-esteem issues. However, it can be an enormously helpful form of therapy for adults as well.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This treatment technique is a nontraditional form of therapy that was developed to help deal with traumatic memories. This type of treatment has been particularly beneficial to people living with trauma, including PTSD.
However, EMDR isn’t necessarily reserved for folks who have experienced severe trauma in their lives. EMDR can be used to treat disorders like anxiety, depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, and even performance-related stress.
Even though EMDR is often used to treat severe trauma, here at the Center for Family Empowerment, our clinician Josie McCall has found great success in using EMDR to help treat “smaller” traumas. You don’t need to have experienced a disturbing or traumatic event to benefit from EMDR. This type of therapy can be helpful to many, especially folks who have work-related anxieties or issues that are getting in the way of their success (such as a fear of giving a presentation in front of your coworkers).
EMDR can also help with:
Public speaking anxiety
EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro in 1989 when she was walking and noticed that her eye movements helped to lessen the negative emotions she associated with disturbing memories. She further studied this theory and developed EMDR therapy over time, to the point where millions of people have received EMDR therapy. EMDR therapy sessions last anywhere from 60-90 minutes, and they tend to be structured differently than a traditional talk therapy session.
What are the benefits of EMDR therapy?
In addition to being a valuable treatment option for things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, panic attacks, ADHD, and chronic pain, EMDR also has several other benefits. Here are a few:
less talking needed in each session
quicker results than traditional talk therapy
learn tangible and effective coping skills
need fewer sessions
As you’ll learn below, EMDR is structured differently than a traditional talk therapy session, and research has shown that this treatment delivers results in a much shorter time frame. Instead of coming in once a week for months on end, EMDR treatment tends to last about 12 sessions. That means fewer sessions, fewer payments, and real results!
In addition, the techniques that your therapist will teach you during EMDR treatment can be applied to future scenarios, leaving you better equipped to deal with things as they come up. Side effects can also be a huge deal in mental health treatment, but EMDR therapy has no negative side effects, making this a very safe form of therapy to try.
What should you expect in EMDR therapy as an adult?
EMDR therapy is broken down into 8 phases.
In the first phase, your clinician will go over your history with you and develop a treatment plan.
In phase two, your clinician will teach you a variety of techniques to handle emotional distress that you can use during sessions and after you go home.
Phases three through six of EMDR are the Rapid Eye Movement portion of the treatment. In these phases, your clinician will guide you to recall the particular negative memory you will be working with during the session, a negative belief you hold about yourself related to that memory, and any physical sensations and emotions you experienced.
While you are describing these, your clinician will begin with eye movement. In many cases, clinicians encourage side to side eye movements by moving their fingers back and forth, but some clinicians prefer hand tapping or audio tones to serve the same purpose. Your therapist will guide you to describe a negative belief and a positive belief about yourself. Once the eye movement portion is complete (the length of time varies), your therapist will tell you to let your mind go blank and notice whatever comes up. This process continues until the memory is no longer disturbing to you.
Phase seven is basically the homework you do between EMDR sessions. Your therapist will ask you to keep a log of anything that comes up for you during the week related to the memories you worked through in your last session.
Phase eight begins in your next session, where you go over your progress with your therapist and determine what to do next.
But how does EMDR therapy work?
One huge benefit of EMDR therapy is that it significantly decreases the amount of time it takes for people to make progress working through trauma or stressful situations. One of the ways that EMDR works is that it helps both sides of your brain communicate to work through distressing events.
EMDR helps you to replace the negative thoughts associated with traumatic memories with positive ones, by helping build bridges between different parts of your brain. If you think of trauma as an injury like a broken arm, then EMDR is the splint that guides the broken bones back into place.
EMDR is a fantastic option if you’re looking to treat trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and panic attacks, among other things. EMDR can help you feel much better in a much shorter time frame than more traditional methods of therapy, without the side effects that some other treatments have.
While this is a general overview of what to expect in EMDR therapy, keep in mind that each session will look a little different for everyone. Your therapist can determine what will work best for you and your unique needs when you go over your history.
Think EMDR therapy might be right for you? Contact Josie today!