5 Ways That EMDR Can Help with Overcoming Trauma
Have you ever sensed something that brought you right back to a negative memory? Perhaps you were at a store and smelled the perfume of an ex-partner that hurt you. Or maybe you passed by the street of an old workplace where your boss bullied others. If the thought of these types of memories makes you shudder and makes your heart beat faster, then you may already be familiar with the concept of trauma.
Trauma exists on a wide spectrum of symptoms, and the same way that you experience a mild recollection of something unpleasant, someone with traumatic stress can be transported in real-time to the very debilitating physical and emotional reactions they experienced at some point in the past.
Healing from trauma is a long, holistic process because the effects of trauma can be felt long after the actual event. Trauma is stored in the body, and you’ll need to address both the mind and body in order to heal fully. Trauma goes beyond cognition- it lives within us and affects our body’s daily functions.
Luckily, certain therapeutic modalities, like EMDR, allow you to gently explore how trauma has affected your whole self while reducing your vulnerability to triggers and symptoms.
EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and is an approach to therapy that involves bilateral stimulation. In other words, the use of physical left/right stimulation would be an integral part of therapy. Your therapist would help you release the trauma you’ve been holding on to physically. You may even release a physical aspect of trauma that you weren’t even aware you were carrying throughout the day! You’ll also learn how to recover from exposure to inevitable triggers and you’ll learn to manage your symptoms more proactively.
Here’s why EMDR is an effective approach that has helped many people overcome trauma.
Desensitization to Exposure
When you’ve lived through a traumatic event, you may feel triggered by reminders of the event either in the present, or you may worry about it coming up in the future. You may even go out of your way to avoid encountering potential triggers in your daily life. But this can be highly disruptive to your life. And one day, you may reach a point where you want to be able to move through life without worrying about dealing with triggers.
EMDR can help desensitize you to exposure to trauma reminders. Your therapist will help you explore traumatic memories in a safe environment so that you learn how to return to a state of equilibrium.
If you’ve been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, you may struggle to manage your symptoms in everyday life. Perhaps your symptoms have even made it difficult to work, take care of your domestic obligations, or see your loved ones.
After several EMDR sessions, you’ll often find that your symptoms are not as severe. As you process events and symptoms, and let go of your trauma, your stress levels will decrease. Many clients describe a sense of feeling “lighter” after engaging in EMDR.
Release Physical Tension
Perhaps you don’t often struggle with intrusive thoughts, or rumination related to your trauma. But you may experience aches and pains with no clear cause. You may have trouble sleeping, or you may suffer from headaches.
Because EMDR is a healing modality that addresses your whole body, you will naturally address the physical tension that you’ve been carrying during the event. During sessions, you’ll be able to assess how your body feels when you reflect on traumatic memories.
You’ll learn how to stabilize your emotions after thinking about the event, which will help you manage your physical symptoms.
Recovery From Distress
Sometimes, your symptoms become overwhelming. Maybe it’s because you were reminded of the event while going about your day, or maybe it’s because you had a nightmare about what happened. But in EMDR, you will learn how to recover from distress relatively quickly.
Your therapist will not rush you through this process. In each session, as you reflect on the event, your therapist will demonstrate how to recover from this gradually and come back to a calm mental state. Soon, you will be able to put this into practice in your daily life.
Address Intrusive Thoughts
At times, you may be focused on a regular task when thoughts of what you experienced crop up. You may feel hopeless and dismayed if you feel like your trauma can simply intrude and bring down your day at any time.
In EMDR, you’ll learn how to recover from these intrusive thoughts. Going through the process of reflection and returning to emotional equilibrium during sessions will give you plenty of experience and exposure with this technique. You will be able to put these tactics to good use if you deal with intrusive thoughts outside of therapy.
Are you struggling to heal past trauma? Working with an EMDR therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.