You can feel the anxiety coming on with the racing thoughts, nervousness, and feeling on edge.
Perhaps you’ve tried to use different treatments, such as traditional talk therapy and medication, but nothing seems to help. Maybe it feels hopeless. Like you will be stuck with anxiety for the rest of your life.
Wait… what if there was a different way?
EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing may help. EMDR may help improve your ability to resolve your anxiety and not feel quite hypervigilant and uncomfortable.
This approach may be just the means for a breakthrough you have been looking for. Let’s consider how EMDR might help you feel like yourself again.
What is EMDR?
EMDR is a more like a process than a specific technique. The objective is to help you resolve whatever issue that you are struggling with or keeps you mentally and/or emotionally stuck. EMDR has been particularly helpful for those whose memories have lain dormant in the brain, yet to be processed. These unprocessed memories can stir up feelings that can be hard to deal with. In fact, you may not even understand why you are feeling anxious at all. What EMDR does is provide a structure so that your mind can process such memories.
EMDR therapy generally lasts between six and twelve sessions.
What is the EMDR Process Like?
The main component of EMDR is where you sit with a therapist where you both explore unexpressed, unresolved, or repressed memories. Specifically, these are memories directly related to your anxiety. For example, you may have experienced a time in your life when you were very ill, which in turn led to a fear of germs and getting sick again.
Of course, talking about these memories can be very difficult. However, the therapist is there to help guide you through the discussion. While this is happening your therapist engages you in what’s called “bilateral stimulation.” This can be in the form of eye movements, tapping, or even tones. This occurs while you are recalling a specific memory.
Why Use Bilateral Stimulation?
The idea behind bilateral stimulation is that it reduces the intensity and emotional connection of the memory. For example, when you first start doing EMDR it might be really hard to recall a memory that causes anxiety. Yet, in time and through multiple sessions, it becomes easier to do so. Eventually, the memory becomes fully integrated with your mind, and becomes just a memory, with little to no emotional connection or upset.
The Body Scan and EMDR
Another component of EMDR is the body scan. This is where you recall the memory and note any physical symptoms that you might have. For instance, using the example from above about being sick, which translated into a fear of germs, you might notice the following:
- Tensed muscles
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- A more rapid heartbeat
- Faster breathing
- Pain in certain parts of your body
Again, this can be very difficult to experience at first. However, using positive thinking, such as a phrase or sentence, will help to minimize the effects over time. For example, saying to yourself that everything is OK when you begin to experience anxiety. Over time these physical symptoms will also dissipate as your memories are integrated into your consciousness.
A Commitment to the Process
EMDR is not one of those “once-and-done” therapy techniques. Rather, it takes a degree of commitment as it is spread out over multiple weeks. Thus, having a therapist with whom you trust and feel safe with is critically important. You will be bringing to the surface memories that you may have kept buried or hidden for a long time, which can be very difficult to uncover.
If you have been struggling with anxiety issues, it may be because you haven’t fully dealt with memories that are triggering the anxiety. With help from an experienced professional, you can use EMDR to integrate those memories. Contact me soon so that we can work together on ways to help you feel less anxious and more like yourself sooner rather than later.