What is EMDR Therapy?

Anxiety, stress, depression, feeling stuck, or frustrated with trauma can create challenges that invade many aspects of life, including your recovery. While numerous forms of therapy treat PTSD, trauma, and anxiety, EMDR therapy stands out as one of the more effective. If you are experiencing unpleasant feelings or symptoms of PTSD, EMDR, in addition to other therapy treatments, can be a critical factor in helping you resolve and cope with your PTSD, trauma, or anxiety.

EMDR is much more than a trauma treatment. EMDR helps to reshape your inner thoughts bringing you from a place of reaction to rationale. Let’s examine how EMDR works, its benefits, and how this could help you become “unstuck” from the thoughts that trigger PTSD, anxiety, or depressive episodes.

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) and is a widely-studied trauma-focused therapy. EMDR works to address the disturbing events that can become stuck in your brain in the form of images, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. EMDR will help you process your trauma and allow for healing. Furthermore, EMDR is an accelerated form of therapy, meaning that what other therapeutic approaches may accomplish after many sessions, EMDR can accomplish in significantly fewer sessions. It also does not require talking in detail about your trauma; instead, you think of the trauma and describe what you experience when you think about it.

Reorganizing Thoughts

EMDR therapy facilitates the reorganization of thoughts, feelings, and memories related to the traumatic event. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it is not about getting you used to the trauma memory so that it no longer triggers anxiety or unpleasant emotions. Instead, the therapy is about reorganizing the memory storage in the brain so that it no longer is closely tied to the feelings, sensations, and anxiety-provoking stimuli formerly associated with it.

The idea is to help you understand that your memories and feelings attached to your trauma are not your whole story and do not define you. Instead, these memories are just a chapter from your life and realizing this is empowering and helps you understand that such thoughts no longer control how you think and behave.

Breaking Free from the Cycle

When you undergo sessions of EDR, you will be able to let go of the pattern of circular thinking and anxious worry that often accompanies traumatic memories. Sessions will help bring you a sense of relief and even feel less burdened by your thoughts when you have finished a session. Further, sessions help you feel like you can let go of the weight of the sadness or anxiety that might provoke your thoughts and memories. EMDR helps you move forward and even causes you to feel as though the memory is more distant or “fuzzy”—not erased or gone, but no longer has a foothold on your life.

Positive Self-Beliefs

EMDR helps you foster new internal belief systems that apply to a broad spectrum of experiences in life. The therapy affects the resolution of the traumatic memory and the perspective you have about yourself. Attaining these new belief systems helps to benefit all aspects of your life, including your relationship with yourself and others. It also helps strengthen the connections you have with others and with your recovery. EMDR does this by helping change your internal dialogue from living in the negative to seeing things in the positive. Such change shifts your perspective and can profoundly impact changing the experiences you have in your life and recovery.

How Does EMDR Work?

Before beginning EMDR, you will gain insight from your therapist about physical and emotional responses to trauma. Once you agree that you are ready to focus on the traumatic memories, you will learn new skills that help you cope throughout the process. You then determine the difficult memory you want to focus on or your “target.” You will then share negative thoughts and feelings while thinking of the trauma. During this time, your therapist is using bilateral stimulation. For EMDR, the stimulation is visual. Therefore, you will rapidly move your eyes back and forth to follow your therapist’s fingers moving from side to side. The movement helps you shift your traumatic memory toward something that feels less troublesome.

Additionally, you will focus on the therapist’s movements in 30-second increments while holding the difficult memory until it decreases. Research suggests that the brain naturally wants to move toward healing and growth; therefore, the movement helps your brain accomplish this while holding the traumatic thought. The approach shows rapid success because of how the therapy works, and most patients find relief from attending weekly sessions from 1-3 months.

If you are experiencing difficulties related to a traumatic event or multiple traumas, then the time to get help is now. At Choice House, we provide many treatments and therapeutic resources, and approaches that will offer you the tools needed to cope and manage trauma and any substance use disorders (SUD) you might have developed. We will also provide you the best EMDR treatment to ensure that you are getting the quality care that meets your needs. Our additional programs include inpatient and outpatient care, including finding you placement at Denver area rehabilitation centers and Boulder living homes. Recovery is a lifelong journey that requires many tools to helping you stay on the path to recovery. At Choice House, our goal is to provide men with the best options to assisting them in managing their mental health and substance use disorders, so they may leave treatment with the confidence to keep moving forward. Find out more by calling Choice House today at (720) 577-4422.

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