I really do believe in the power of EMDR therapy to assist in healing from trauma. While I got excited about the therapy during my EMDR Basic Training, I was convinced when I actually started to see it make a difference for clients.
My favorite way to explain EMDR is this: Think about your brain as a filing cabinet. All the memories you have are your files: a Thursday in 7th grade, what you had for lunch yesterday, etc. All those memories get filed neatly. But when you have an experience that feels traumatic to you, it’s like the paper just gets crumpled up and shoved into the filing cabinet. It makes it harder to close the cabinet and messes up all the files around it. EMDR is like pulling out that crumpled paper and smoothing it out. It won’t be absolutely perfect, but it will help it file more neatly so that the filing cabinet can close again and you can move on with your life.
These are the top reasons why I love EMDR
You don't have to verbally process your emotions.
People often shy away from talk therapy simply because they don’t like to talk about their feelings very much, or they have trouble identifying them in the first place. EMDR reprocessing doesn’t emphasize the talking part as much. You can identify more concretely how distressing the memories feel, and internally feel it, but you don’t have to be able to explain that perfectly to your therapist.
It's helpful for more than just trauma.
I have done EMDR with clients to support chronic pain, anxiety, depression, brain injuries, and more. EMDR isn’t a cure all, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for every single client. But I do love that the modality is flexible enough to work with a variety of different presenting concerns.
It can work really quickly.
EMDR doesn’t always work quickly- big disclaimer! With repeated trauma over the course of years of someone’s life, it can take a while to work through that with EMDR. But if you’re really struggling with a one-time incident, it can be pretty quick. A great example is if you’re afraid to drive after getting into an accident. You may be able to feel significant relief just after one or two EMDR sessions.
It's one of two evidence-based practice for PTSD.
Evidence-based practices are really important in the mental health field. They set precedents for standards of care and allow therapist to be reimbursed by insurance, as well as considered more legitimate in the healthcare world. I believe the EMDR is one modality that lends itself to promoting the legitimacy of psychotherapy as a healthcare practice. That’s because it’s based in neuroscience, and it’s one of only two evidence-based practices approved for the treatment of PTSD (the other is trauma focused CBT). If therapists wanted to be treated, and paid, more like much of the rest of the healthcare industry, evidence-based practices are our friends.
It affects both the mind and the body.
EMDR has a lot of somatic components, and can offer a lot of relief to people struggling with physical symptoms. These might include common physical anxiety symptoms, like stomach pain and headaches, or it could be more like chronic pain. I’ve personally seen clients experience relief from physical symptoms through EMDR, and there are therapists who solely specialize in somatic symptoms as well.
Are you familiar with EMDR? What do you like or not like about it? I would love to hear your thoughts! If you are looking for an EMDR therapist in the Denver area, please contact me directly to see if I have availability.