What Happens in EMDR Therapy?

what happens in EMDR therapy

Healing from trauma or distressing experiences can be challenging, but recovery is possible with  therapies like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. What is EMDR, and how does it facilitate the healing process?

Understanding EMDR

During EMDR, your therapist will ask you to recall traumatic memories while guiding you through specific eye movement patterns. Despite its relative newness in the therapeutic world, EMDR has garnered substantial evidence backing its efficacy, often accelerating the therapy process. Unlike traditional talk therapy, EMDR doesn’t hinge on extensively discussing distressing events. Instead, the technique involves altering your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

During trauma, your brain retains memories in an unhealthy way, causing a wound that hasn’t healed. As a result, the brain remains in a heightened state of alert, mistakenly believing the threat is ongoing. Even suppressed trauma can have adverse effects, triggering strong negative emotions and behaviors.

For instance, sounds or smells that are reminiscent of the traumatic event can provoke these deeply embedded memories, often inducing intense fear, anxiety or even anger. Flashbacks are a potent example of this, where the past seems to resurface in the present.

With eye movements and methodical instructions, you access distressing memories and work through them in a healthy way. Essentially, the mental injury caused by the trauma gets repaired, allowing you to remember what happened without the overwhelming emotional charge.

Who Can Benefit From EMDR?

While EMDR has proven effective for treating PTSD, its applications are diverse, encompassing various mental health conditions.

  • Anxiety disorders: These include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias and social anxiety.
  • Depression: EMDR can help people overcome major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder and depression linked to illnesses.
  • Dissociative disorders: People with dissociative identity disorder, amnesia and depersonalization may want to try EMDR.
  • Eating disorders: Those battling anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge-eating disorder can benefit.
  • Gender dysphoria: EMDR assists people struggling with gender identity challenges.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders: These include OCD, body dysmorphic disorder and hoarding disorder.
  • Personality disorders: EMDR is beneficial for borderline personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
  • Trauma disorders: Besides PTSD, EMDR is also effective for acute stress disorder and adjustment disorder.

A Path to Healing With Palm Springs Behavioral Health

Trauma can cast long shadows, but with interventions like EMDR, healing and recovery become more attainable. At Palm Springs Behavioral Health, we stand committed to helping you overcome your challenges with evidence-based methods like EMDR.

Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength. If you are dealing with the aftermath of trauma, our dedicated team is here to guide you every step of the way. Contact us today to speak to a caring admissions counselor.