Do you have trauma that you just can’t seem to shake out of your life, no matter how much you journal about it or talk about it in therapy? EMDR is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and it is a wonderful tool for those who have anxiety, PTSD, OCD, depression, etc. Whenever we go through a traumatic experience, our brains have trouble storing the memory because of emotions like shame, guilt, and fear.
As a result, it can impact your daily life, and cause you to be triggered by something like a sound, smell, thought, image, etc. In EMDR therapy, a trained therapist will direct your eye movements as you relive triggering experiences in small doses. This is like soaking a pan, letting all the gunk and trauma float to the surface so that you can face it and work through it with the help and guidance of your therapist. The question is, how does EMDR help your anxiety?
EMDR causes less emotional reactivity in daily life
Often, when we are holding onto pain that we haven’t worked through, we are more likely to be emotionally reactive. You might find yourself being overwhelmed by intense sadness, anger, or fear. EMDR helps you react less to your anxiety because you are given the opportunity to safely face your emotions and the events that triggered it. You will find that you are able to take a much calmer approach to situations that trigger your anxiety rather than slipping into a panic attack or blowing up at your loved ones.
It helps you sleep better
Have you ever tossed and turned all night, not able to sleep because of obsessive thoughts or traumatic flashbacks? You are not alone. Sometimes, when we are in “go, go, go” mode all day, we don’t have any time to sit with our negative emotions and sift through them. EMDR gives you the time to sit in the mud with your negative thoughts and emotions so that you can get unstuck and find resolutions. This eliminates tossing and turning, which is just your brain’s way of saying “Don’t go to sleep! We need attention!”
It increases a more positive outlook
With your mind no longer being bogged down by trauma, you are free to explore the world with a more positive frame of mind. It is difficult to be present when we are dealing with negativity. EMDR helps you feel like a weight has been lifted off your chest, because you gain access to the part of your brain that has been closed off to you for so long. The brain has closed the gates to your trauma to protect you from harm, but if left unchecked and undealt with, it will start to spill over into other areas of your life. These can be your relationships, work, etc. With the help of your therapist, you can face your trauma and go through life with a more pleasant outlook. You will also feel more mindful and at peace.
It helps you feel more relaxed generally and physically
EMDR is similar to hypnosis because it puts you into a relaxed state in order to help you access certain memories or feelings. The relaxed state helps people reimagine anxiety-inducing scenarios and then helps them find ways to resolve them and have control over their anxiety.
EMDR helps you process emotions internally
EMDR is good for people who have trouble processing their traumatic experiences through talk therapy. Sometimes, the pain is too much to talk about, or their brain is protecting them and causing them to not have a clear recollection of what happened. EMDR is more of an internal process that is guided by a trained therapist, making it easier for those who have trouble processing or getting in touch with their emotions verbally.
If you are interested in starting EMDR therapy, our clinician, Laura Hensley offers a blend of EMDR and expressive arts therapy. Laura wants you to know that EMDR is a mind-body healing process, and you will maintain control over how quickly you move through the process itself. You can always take breaks when you need to, and with your therapist, you will work on building a sense of safety and support into and around the series of sessions. EMDR will likely lead to a significant experience of healing and transformation.
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Alli Cravener is a social media coordinator and writer who is passionate about connecting people through words. Alli studied English at Arizona State University and has found her niche uniting concept and content in the realm of mental health and the expressive arts. Alli’s interests include painting, history, learning about other people, and wearing the color pink. She likens herself to a “mouse in a palm tree”, and she loves it that way.