EMDR Therapy Can Help Your Trauma and Anxiety
If you suffer from trauma or anxiety, I have good news for you. There is a treatment called EMDR that is effective for treating trauma, anxiety, panic, and more. EMDR stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing.” As a trained and certified EMDR practitioner, I know that it can decrease the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and even depression after as little as three treatments. In this blog, I will share what EMDR is and how it can help your anxiety or trauma.
What Is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing is a therapy that helps heal emotional pain caused by a traumatic event or a condition related to fear. In EMDR therapy, the therapist has you focus on the source of your trauma or anxiety and the memory associated with it while experiencing bilateral visual stimulation such as focusing your eyes on the therapist’s hand moving back and forth. This mimics Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep in which the brain processes events of the day and their meanings. During therapy, you process the memory and emotions associated with the trauma or anxiety while the therapist helps you change the negative messages and meanings that you hold to positive and empowering messages and meanings. This results in a reduction of the vividness and negative feelings associated with the memory, which allows your mind and emotions to heal.
Your mind is designed to heal from an emotional wound just as your body is designed to heal from a physical wound like a cut. But if something gets in the cut like a piece of dirt, or if the cut keeps getting re-injured, healing can’t happen. What is needed is to remove whatever is blocking the healing. The same is true with an emotional wound. EMDR addresses the brain’s information processing system that has gotten blocked by the disturbing memory, which causes the emotional wound to remain open. Once the block is removed through EMDR therapy, healing can take place.
EMDR therapy is recognized as an effective treatment by such organizations as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and the World Health Organization, to name a few.
Is EMDR Effective For Trauma?
In over thirty studies of EMDR therapy, 84-90% of single-trauma survivors, after only three 90-minute sessions of EMDR could no longer be diagnosed with PTSD. A study funded by Kaiser Permanente showed 100% of single-trauma survivors and 77% of multiple-trauma survivors, after six 50-minute sessions of EMDR could no longer be diagnosed with PTSD. Another study of combat veterans showed 77% were free of PTSD in 12 sessions.
EMDR has been proven to be more effective than standard treatment such as relaxation techniques or talk therapy alone. In a study done on survivors of childhood sexual abuse, one-third were given EMDR while the rest were given traditional treatments. The EMDR group had better results, scoring better than the traditional treatment group. In a study of 67 people with PTSD, the participants given EMDR had reduced symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression after only three sessions. They also needed fewer medication and psychotherapy appointments.
Is EMDR Effective For Anxiety?
EMDR was developed originally to treat combat veterans with PTSD, but it has been found to also be effective for treating anxiety disorders, depression, panic attacks, and chronic stress. In one study, after people with generalized anxiety disorder were treated with EMDR, their anxiety symptoms were no longer able to be diagnosed.
What happens with anxiety is that the anxious feeling is fed by an underlying negative belief and accompanying message that you tell yourself such as, “I am not in control/I must be in control,” or “I am not safe/I must be safe,” or “I am not perfect/I must be perfect.” Because the human mind and body are inextricably connected, to relieve the negative emotions, you must change the negative belief/message that fuels it. EMDR helps you feel and process the feelings in your body and simultaneously change the beliefs/messages while at the same time engaging in eye movements that simulate REM sleep. This reduces the emotional intensity of those thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations so that your brain can start the healing process.
That is why there are over 100,000 EMDR practitioners and millions of people who have been treated successfully with EMDR.
If you are struggling with trauma or anxiety, know that there is a therapy that can help you gain a new sense of peace and calm. Trauma and/or anxiety don’t have to be a part of your life. There is a new normal that I would be honored to help you experience with EMDR. I urge to you read more about trauma treatment, and then reach out to me to help you get started in EMDR treatment.
Sydney Spradlin is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in a dual track master's program in counseling and marriage and family therapy. She is supervised by Jack D. Dickerson, LPC-S. She belongs to the American Counseling Association (ACA), Christian Counselors of North Texas (CCT) and EMDRIA (a professional association for EMDR trained and certified counselors). Sydney works with individuals, couples, teenagers, and families. She is taking new clients.