You are thinking about doing EMDR therapy and may wonder—what is EMDR therapy like and can it help me?.
What is EMDR?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR is based in the theory that our current mental health problems are affected by traumatic or distressing experiences in the past. Our brain “holds” these memories in the present and does not process and store them in our past memory like our other experiences. As a result, these traumatic or distressing memories can be activated and interfere with our current functioning. Many people experience this distress as anxiety, stress, and depression.
How does EMDR help?
EMDR helps by creating an opportunity for your brain and body to have a new learning experience: by activating and reprocessing the memories that are interfering with your current problems. It does this by allowing you to access the memory, reduce distress of the memory (desensitize) and reprocess the memory to your past memory. This is done by using bilateral stimulation (activating both the left and right parts of your brain) using eye movements, tapping, sound or gentle vibration.
Through EMDR you will still remember the memory, but it will be stored “where it belongs” in past memory and you will no longer experience the emotional and physical distress the memory causes you.
Remembering some of my memories sounds scary—how will I be okay?
We will collaborate on a care plan before you desensitize and reprocess memories. Your care plan will identify the distress you are currently experiencing, identify the memories that affect your distress, and identify the beliefs associated with those memories. We will identify supportive beliefs that you would rather believe about yourself, other people, and the world. In the early stages of EMDR we will collaborate on building relaxation and stabilization skills to manage distress that may come up during the EMDR process. We also will identify a plan to maintain self-care between sessions.
The most important thing for you to know is that you are in charge—you decide your pace, what memories to explore, how you want to explore them, and how you will take care of yourself during the EMDR experience.
How is EMDR different from other forms of therapy?
EMDR is experiential, meaning you actively participate in the healing your brain and body are doing to recover from the past. There is very little talking or “homework” in EMDR therapy. Your role is to remember distressing memories, to develop new more supportive beliefs and to utilize internal and external resources such as relaxation exercises and self-care activities during and outside of therapy. The therapist’s role is to teach you about EMDR, to collaborate with you on a care plan and to guide you through desensitization and reprocessing.
Can EMDR be done virtually?
Yes! Many therapists have successfully treated clients remotely with EMDR. The main priority is to determine the form of BLS to use. At Bountiful Mind Counseling I primarily use client self-tapping as a form of virtual EMDR BLS. This allows the client to tap their knees or their arms in a left-right pattern guided by me during desensitization and reprocessing stages. This method of BLS is free, low-tech, and does not require extra equipment or use of third party BLS online programs.
A Free EMDR Therapy Consultation in Seattle King County
I hope this helps answer questions about EMDR therapy in Seattle King County. If you would like to talk about your EMDR therapy needs, feel free to call me toll free at (844) 733-5262 for a free 30-minute phone consultation. If you are looking for more information on EMDR, you can read more about how I can help here or visit the EMDR International Association