You have maybe never heard of this or you have heard about how amazing the results can be and you are ready to jump in... but what exactly is EMDR? Listed below are some frequently asked questions in order to have a better understanding of this process.
This psychotherapy treatment was created in the 1980's by Francine Shapiro. It allows people to heal from their adverse life experiences using back and forth movement of their eyes. Research has shown that what people experience in years of talk therapy can often be resolved in a few short sessions of EMDR. The actual psychological damage that our brain has experienced from trauma in our lives can actually be healed and closed.
How do I prepare?
EMDR is considered intensive trauma therapy and is not to be taken lightly.
Having a positive, healthy support system in place is crucial. Knowing you have people to call and/or rely on in your emotionally vulnerable moments is necessary.
Creating a safe place, both physically and mentally to help you feel secure and comfortable. It should be a comfortable, quiet area that is solely for you.
Coping skills! Whether this is journaling, exercising, meditating, music, art, coloring, breathing, hiking, etc you MUST be practicing some type of coping skill each day.
Emotionally you need to be ready to work and to face some of the hardest, most vulnerable moments you have experienced in your life.
Communication. You need to be able to be honest with partners, family, loved ones, and/or friends what you are experiencing while you go through this process.
How long will it take until I'm better?
The best advice I can give you is when you are working with emotions, emotional trauma and mental health -- there is no quick answer. There is no timeline. Mental health is a PROCESS, not a quick fix.
That does not mean you will be in therapy the rest of your life. Research has shown with the effectiveness of EMDR some people have seen or felt relief in their life after one session.
What happens in a session?
EMDR occurs in 8 phases, so you do a lot of preparation work before you will actually engage in a processing session. When the processing session occurs you will focus on a trauma memory and a negative belief associated with this memory. The therapist will then stimulate the rapid eye movement (aka bilateral stimulation) using some type of stimulus. This can be achieved by fingers moving back and forth, tapping or the use of a Thera-tapper. You will then "re-process" the memory during each set that your eyes are being stimulated. EMDR can work because the rapid eye movement by-passes the area of the brain that was altered due to the trauma. Making it so your brain can actually process the trauma in a safe, appropriate way and then store what once was a trauma memory as a normal memory now.
Yes, you are awake.
No, it does not hurt.
No, you are not hypnotized.
Yes, you always have the option to stop at anytime.
Can I do EMDR therapy?
Most likely the answer is yes, most everyone who is experiencing some type of dysfunction in their life due to a trauma can do EMDR. Therapists use EMDR for a wide range of challenges:
Anxiety, panic attacks
*Note: These are just a few examples of experiences that people have faced and received relief from EMDR, but it is not limited to this list.*
What happens after your re-processing session?
You might have vivid dreams, racing thoughts, sleep disturbances, emotional vulnerability or a slight change in experiences/stimuli right after session but this will be discussed at the end of your session. Practicing healthy coping skills, grounding techniques and ways to process the sensations you may feel will be expected until your next therapy session.
Is it really effective?
According to the EMDR Institute, more than 30 controlled studies have been done. Some results show that 84-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have PTSD after only three 90 minute sessions. It has now become one of the most effective forms of treatment for trauma. Millions of people have already been treated and have had success in their healing for the last 25 years.