Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a treatment solution has been used for decades to help people struggling with symptoms of PTSD. It was first developed as a way to help individuals heal from trauma and to take away some of the fear associated with such damaging events.
While EMDR is nothing new, the way it’s been used has started to transform in recent years.
While EMDR is still a highly effective technique for those struggling with PTSD, it’s also an impactful option for people dealing with anxiety, panic, and a host of other mental health conditions that can cause your mind to make situations feel more frightening than they actually are.
With that, let’s take a closer look at EMDR and how it can specifically help with conditions like anxiety, rather than strictly focusing on PTSD.
Why It Works
EMDR is effective for anxiety and other mental health conditions because it focuses on taking your anxious thoughts and distressing situations and shifting your thinking. Eventually, through reprocessing, you’ll be able to work through those thoughts in a more positive light. They don’t go away, but your perspective changes.
Unlike other therapies for anxiety, including CBT, you won’t spend a lot of your time talking through your anxious thoughts and feelings. While your therapist will need to know what makes you anxious and they can help you get to the root cause, the bigger goal is to change the way those thoughts affect you.
What to Expect
EMDR is a short-form therapy in that you won’t be attending sessions for years. In fact, most patients only attend 6-12 sessions in total.
Each session will have a specific designated process that continues to move forward.
Depending on what phase you’re in, your therapist will ask you questions about your anxiety and triggers. Once they have a good understanding of what’s triggering your worrying thoughts, they’ll be able to move on to the desensitization and reprocessing stages.
During those stages, you’ll be asked to focus on the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that cause you the most anxiety. Your therapist will direct your eye movements back and forth while helping you to reprocess those negative sensations as positive ones.
You’ll eventually feel more empowered over your thoughts. Again, that doesn’t mean they cease to exist. However, you’ll be able to look at them from a positive perspective and know you have control, rather than letting them hold influence over you.
The last phase of your treatment will serve as a review of how far you’ve come. Throughout the process, you’ll learn different coping mechanisms that will make it easier to take what you’ve learned and put it into practice in your everyday life. While EMDR isn’t a long-term therapy, its effects are meant to last a lifetime.
Who Benefits from EMDR?
EMDR can work for almost anyone, and though we focused heavily on anxiety here, research has shown that it’s also effective for things like:
- Low self-esteem
- Panic attacks
If you’ve tried other forms of therapy before, or you want a treatment solution that focuses on changing the way your mind sees things, EMDR could be the best option. That’s especially true as it continues to broaden its scope beyond PTSD. You don’t have to let your anxious or depressed thoughts control the way you live anymore.
If you’re considering EMDR for your anxiety, depression, or anything else you might be struggling with, please don’t hesitate to contact me. It’s a unique therapy option that could end up making a big difference in your life. I’m happy to provide more information or help you set up an appointment.
About the Author
Roma Williams is a Houston-based licensed marriage and family therapist, who is also licensed in the states of Georgia, Florida, and California. Her specialties and clinical interests are systems and relationships. Roma enjoys working with couples, including LGBTQ+ and those who live in polyamorous relationships. As an African American woman, Roma has donated time and efforts to causes championing black women and mental health. Roma also enjoys working with individuals on their relationships with themselves and others. Being a California native, and moving to the south in her adult years, Roma has had plenty of experiences that have shaped her cultural development both professionally and personally. In her spare time, Roma enjoys fashion, all things wine, and traveling.
If you are in Houston or in any part of Texas, Georgia, Florida, or California and are ready to work with Roma click here.