How to feel confident that
EMDR therapy is right for you and what to expect
By Julie Roy
Have you been going to therapy for years and still feel stuck?
Did you attend therapy previously for trauma and then suddenly had trauma retriggered?
Or did you just experience a new trauma? And do you wonder if you have trauma? (see below regarding what is trauma)
Or despite years of CBT, do you still find yourself stuck on a core belief such as feeling “not good enough” or “I should have done something different” despite recognizing these or other thought distortions?
If any of these ideas resonate, or you have any other fear or negative belief that you feel is still stuck despite CBT therapy, trust me it’s not you, it’s your biology. This is how our brains work, and sometimes talking about it is just not enough.
Fortunately, EMDR can create a new belief about your experiences and give you the tools to embrace future challenges. If you suffer from any of the following experiences, EMDR can be helpful to you.
Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias
Chronic Illness and medical issues
Depression and bipolar disorders
Grief and loss
PTSD and other trauma and stress-related issues
Substance abuse and addiction
Violence and abuse
So what is EMDR?
“EMDR therapy does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue or completing homework between sessions. EMDR therapy, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process.” https://www.emdria.org/about-
When EMDR is determined to be an appropriate intervention, the therapist will discuss with the client the negative cognition that feels stuck due to the memories, while beliefs and bodily sensations are focused on while following either eye movements or bilateral tapping.
EMDR processing also includes elements of addressing accompanying symptoms such as stress, insomnia, etc. As a result, it can accomplish more in a shorter time, but this time varies depending on the complexity of symptoms, such as trauma or attachment issues.
What is trauma? Trauma has been typically defined as “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer-term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.” https://www.apa.org/topics/
Additionally, researchers are understanding more about complex trauma, which can be due to “children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events—often of an invasive, interpersonal nature—and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure. These events are severe and pervasive, such as abuse or profound neglect.” https://www.nctsn.org/what-is-
The related symptoms can also apply to other types of abuses, coercion, interpersonal, and relationship experiences. Basically, trauma can be described as anything that leaves us feeling helpless, hopeless, and out of control, or unable to respond. Myers, Y12sr
The EMDR therapist will take time to get to know your concerns and any coexisting symptoms to ensure safety and success in the treatment.
When a client is processing EMDR with me, I will be sharing strategies, and providing general mental health therapy to soothe the accompanying physical symptoms and will continually assess for tolerance of the process. It is important for the client to know that they are in complete control and can pause treatment at any time if it feels too stressful. Clients can expect to feel either tired, more energized, or may experience more intense dreaming, all of which are expected and welcomed aspects of healing. EMDR follows a structure of 8 phases while allowing for adaptability to how long the phases last to ensure success.
What you should also know:
EMDR therapists must be trained by a program approved by EMDRIA. EMDR has been extensively researched and is considered highly effective: https://www.emdria.org/about-
EMDR can be done while seeing an additional therapist but is most effective when a high level of rapport and support can be established. In some cases, this requires at least taking a leave from seeing the original therapist for the time being.
EMDR can also be done via telehealth in many cases. The EMDR therapist will assess the client for symptoms of dissociation, coping tools, and safety of processing at home will also be assessed. The client will need to have a safe private location with a good connection to the internet, as well as a computer or tablet to utilize rather than a cell phone.
To watch a demonstration video and to learn more about appropriateness and research on effectiveness:
“Remember the entrance to the sanctuary is inside you” Rumi
Julie Roy is a LMSW who works in a private practice setting and helps her clients through her use of DBT, CBT, and EMDR . To learn more about her, please click here.