Anxiety, stress, trauma, depression, PTSD. If you or a loved one have ever experienced any of these mental health struggles, you’ll know how vital it is to receive the best possible help from a professional.
But with a plethora of therapies and treatments available, how do you choose the one that’s really right for you? Before jumping into any sort of psychotherapy, it’s important to learn more about each technique and school of thought.
Let us introduce you to EMDR, one of the most effective and popular therapies that can truly help you to solve your mental health issues once and for all. How? Just read on.
What Does EMDR Mean?
To begin with, let’s clarify the name. The acronym “EMDR” stands for “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing”. It may sound complicated, but the idea behind it is in fact very straight-forward.
To put it simply, EMDR aims at helping the patient to decrease (“desensitize”) the negative feelings associated with a specific event or memory and view them (“reprocess”) in a more positive, or neutral way.
How does it achieve this? With a technique called dual stimulation. If this still sounds a bit confusing, keep on reading to find out more about the actual process, step by step.
How Does It Work, in Practice?
The eye stimulation performed during a session of EMDR therapy is crucial. The effectiveness of the session, in fact, largely depends on this part of the process.
This is because it is thought that the eye movements that occur during EMDR are similar to those happening during the REM sleep stage. In this stage, your brain and body work together to process information, memories, and events experienced during the day. Similar to REM sleep, your brain will then find a way to heal the negative, anxious, and traumatic thoughts that you are focusing on.
Your EMDR therapist will perform something that’s called “dual stimulation”, as it involves two different techniques. On the one hand, they will use a small light bar and ask you to follow its movements. Then, they will also stimulate your hearing via special sounds.
You might also be asked to hold a buzzer in your hands which will emit oscillating vibrations. Your therapist will take you through several sets of dual stimulation during the same session.
How Do You Know if It’s for You?
Over 20 different studies have shown that EMDR is very effective to help people heal from trauma, anxiety, and PTSD. Having said that, you need to bear in mind that, just like anything else, the fact that something works doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right path for you.
Before embarking on your EMDR journey, a good idea is to gather as much information as possible. Speak to your therapist, ask them to provide details about the sessions, and explain the procedure.
Most importantly, make sure to clarify what your issues are, and what exactly you would like to address in your therapy. Is it a specific traumatic event that occurred during your childhood? Is it linked to the sudden loss of a loved one that you experienced in more recent times?
And at a time when the mental health of people worldwide is being tested more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you might find yourself struggling with intrusive thoughts and negative feelings.
Whatever your individual situation, EMDR can provide effective and relatively fast relief. Just remember to speak to your therapist first, trust your instinct, and keep an open mind.
What Can You Expect From Your First Session?
So, you’ve decided that EMDR therapy might be for you. Brilliant, now you just need to book your first session. Meanwhile, you are probably wondering what the session will entail?
If you are starting your EMDR journey with a therapist that you had been seeing for a while, then you should be able to get straight to the dual stimulation right from day one. You might notice, though, that unlike your regular therapy sessions, EMDR sessions generally last at least an hour and up to 180 minutes.
If, on the other hand, you are meeting with a new therapist for the first time, you will need to provide some more detailed information about yourself, your history, and the specific reason that brings you to EMDR. In this case, your first session might last even longer as it will involve collecting some important background information from you before it starts.
In both cases, you will need to start recalling the memory or event that is causing you anxiety or stress. To achieve this, you’ll need to be prepared to talk about all the sounds, scents, sights, and sensations that you associate with your memory.
Once this is established, your therapist will guide you through the dual stimulation that we described earlier. The therapist will continue to ask you questions about your memory or event, and they will need you to focus on a particular aspect of it. The dual stimulation will continue until your thoughts and beliefs about that event gradually become more positive, and you feel calmer and more in control.
For example, if you started your session by stating that, when thinking about the event, you felt like you were dying, you’ll want to reach a point when you’ll turn this into something along the lines of “I am strong, I managed to survive”.
When Will You Start Seeing Some Results?
Because of the very intense nature of its sessions, EMDR therapy can deliver great results after only a couple of sessions. Of course, this will depend on a wide range of factors: your commitment, the therapist’s skills, and the level of severity of your issue or trauma.
It might be a good idea, in the beginning, to continue your regular psychotherapy sessions with the addition of one EMDR session every few weeks. On the other hand, if you are confident that EMDR might be the answer to your problems, then by all means you can use that as your only therapy.
Ready to Discover the Power of EMDR Therapy?
Most mental health difficulties can benefit from EMDR therapy. However, this technique is particularly recommended to people suffering from anxiety, depression, trauma, and PTSD.
If you think that EMDR might be the way to help you overcome your issues, then contact us today.