Need Relief From Anxiety? EMDR Can Help
EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a form of psychotherapy that has been around for years with its effectiveness backed by rigorous research. While it was first used with anxiety and trauma, it has also helped out many suffering from other kinds of emotional disturbances as well.
What Is It?
EMDR focuses on how the brain and your neurology process and retain information. A therapist uses EMDR to help the client move through unpleasant memories or feelings of anxiety, while doing certain movements and motions, that make the brain reprocess the old information, the anxiety, and rewrite that with a newer, more comfortable feeling. It does not take away trauma or bad memories, it instead lessens, or even eliminates, the anxiety and pain that comes from them.
It works by using bilateral, or side to side, movements and eye movements to make the brain reprocess events. Your therapist will explain the process to you and guide you through what you will be thinking about, and paying attention to, while doing the exercises. They will probably not be talking to you much during this, so they do not distract you. Side to side eye movements or side to side tapping will happen while you go back and imagine the anxiety or the events.
How Does this Treat Anxiety?
The brain has a mechanism called Adaptive Information Processing, or AIP. Taking advantage of AIP, EMDR will help the brain retrain itself, and relearn these memories and experiences as something more tolerable and adaptive. You have the opportunity to rewire your brain and remove the anxiety and pain that comes from trauma.
EMDR recreates the memories with less anxiety and trauma attached to them. We know that memories are more recreated than stored like on a computer’s hard drive. Key points are stored and then recreated when you try to remember some event. EMDR will help the memory become something that you can tolerate, and overcome.
The mind and the body are also intertwined and connected in ways that we are now beginning to understand. What this means for EMDR is that reprocessing with the mind and brain will impact the body as well. EMDR has been shown to help people alleviate the physical symptoms that come from stress as well, tension, sleeplessness, sweating, rapid breathing and stomach discomfort.
EMDR has been researched and shown to be effective
While EMDR has been around for almost thirty years, a lot of research supporting it has come around in the past decade. There is evidence to support it working with other disorders as well, such as depression and schizophrenia, but most of the research supports its use with anxiety and trauma survivors.
The interesting piece about this is, while there is research supporting its effectiveness, there is no clear understanding of why it works. One thing that is noticed is that the side to side eye movement is similar to what happens when people enter into REM sleep, that deep state of sleeping where we dream and likely do a lot of cognitive processing, like reinforcing our memories, and turn them into long-term memories. This may be a natural process of the brain’s that allows people to recreate past experiences and make them into something tolerable at the least.
Will EMDR Retraumatize Me?
It is natural to wonder if EMDR will cause one to feel retraumatized. Another benefit to EMDR clients is that they do not have to continually talk about the past and the traumatic event. Some therapies may feel re-traumatizing, and even painful in their own way, but with EMDR the client can sit quietly and go through memories in their mind, while the bilateral sensations help relieve the stress and trauma. It is like viewing the event happening on a movie screen and not like the client is in the experience and reliving it. The therapist is there to help keep the experience safe and gentle while the memories are being reprocessed.
EMDR can help lower anxiety making your coping skills more effective
EMDR is a therapy that has benefited millions of clients and thousands of counselors have been trained in this over the years. It offers the client the ability to lower their own anxiety in a quiet and safe way. Relief and healing are possible and can be achieved with EMDR. At Relationships Matter Austin, we have clinicians trained and experienced in providing EMDR that will help you get relief from your troubling thoughts and feelings and help you transform your life into one where you feel peace and safety.
Carlene Lehmann, M.A., LMFT is a Marriage and Family Therapist at Relationships Matter Austin in Austin, Texas. Carlene is trained and experienced in using EMDR to help you transform your anxiety and experience peace and safety. To schedule your appointment with Carlene, you can reach her at (512) 994-0432 or request an appointment with her on the Relationships Matter Austin Scheduling Page.