3 Ways to Know if EMDR is Right for You

Most people that I come in contact with and near Mentor, Ohio want to live a hopeful and peaceful life. People have an innate desire to be happy and to build long-lasting healthy relationships with loved ones and friends. Unfortunately, there are often roadblocks in our lives that stop us from experiencing happiness and having the relationships that we desire. A person may feel unexplained anger, sadness, panic, or fear in their daily lives. Many may suffer from the lasting effects of traumatic events, deal with debilitating anxiety, fears, or worries, or may have addictions that keep them from succeeding emotionally and in their relationships. People will often feel frustrated and lonely when they do not understand what is keeping them from true healing and lasting happiness. If you have felt this despair in your life, recognize that you are not alone. As a therapist, I connect with clients every day who also struggle in understanding their emotions and not knowing how to deal with the intense feelings they have. Thankfully this mental health struggle does not have to last forever and there are proven ways to find hope and healing in your life.

A therapy I use in my counseling practice is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR therapy is an interactive psychotherapy model used to relieve psychological stress. It is a type of therapy that uses eye movements and sometimes audio tones, or even little hand-held buzzers to repeatedly stimulate the left and right hemispheres of your brain. EMDR is especially effective in restoring mental health and treating the effects of trauma including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can also be used to treat anxiety, depression, panic attacks, fears, grief and loss, eating disorders, and addiction. You may be wondering how to know if EMDR therapy will work for you. Here are 3 ways to know if EMDR will treat the difficult emotions you experience.

1. You experience intense anger, panic, flashbacks, or sleep difficulties

You might notice that you have a low tolerance for frustration or anger. Seemingly small things may cause you to have an angry outburst. At times you may experience panic or have intense anxiety during the day or night and not understand what has caused these feelings. If you notice that you are easily startled, you have difficulty concentrating on tasks, or experience nightmares or flashbacks, it is likely that you may be suffering from the effects of trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Trauma is defined as a very difficult or unpleasant experience or a wound that causes someone to experience symptoms such as anger, depression, anxiety, zoning out, loss of hope and sense of who they are. These symptoms are normal for the abnormal things that happen to us. PTSD happens when the thoughts and memories come to the surface again and again without you wanting them to. You might find yourself reliving trauma and abuse and remembering painful words and memories.

Traumatic events like sexual or physical assault, combat experiences, accidents, or a sudden loss of a loved one can cause many to suffer from these symptoms throughout their lives. Recent studies have shown that PTSD can also be a symptom of less dramatic events than just major traumas. Life events that take place during childhood that were hurtful, especially with parents or peers, can also negatively impact one’s sense of self and memories can be painful and emotionally exhausting.

At times it may feel like you can never escape the traumatic events and memories, but clients can experience healing through a variety of means including EMDR therapy. During EMDR trauma therapy sessions, you remember traumatic or triggering experiences in short bursts while the therapist directs your eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation (tappers, audio sounds, etc). This process works by bringing memories to the surface while the bilateral stimulation aids your brain in moving the traumatic material to the part of the brain that can make sense of it. Unhealed traumatic experiences are stuck in the emotional part of our brain. A person is able to remember traumatic events or thoughts without the intense emotions associated with the memory. The memory becomes a difficult experience rather than an all-consuming, intensely emotional experience. EMDR trauma counseling is able to decrease the emotional intensity and impact the memories have on your mind and body.

2. You deal with anxiety, fears, depression, or eating disorders

Do you struggle to concentrate and often procrastinate, waiting until the last minute to complete even simple tasks? You may find that you have lost interest in activities that used to bring you enjoyment and that you feel worried, sad, or out of sorts most of the time. You may have noticed difficulty concentrating, overreacting to people or situations, and struggling to make decisions. You would like to participate in more activities and social opportunities, but feel fear and are unsure about doing the things you want to. At times you may not feel happy about your body and choose to engage in unhealthy behaviors in order to make yourself look a certain way or feel better at the moment.

If you feel any of these symptoms listed above, you might realize that you are often held back from doing what you would enjoy or even pushed or pressured into doing things that aren’t what you want to do Many people deal with anxiety, worries, fears, eating disorders, or depression on a daily basis making it hard for them to live the life they envision for themselves. Having fear, sadness, and doubts swirling in your head is frustrating and hard to manage day after day. You may think about these life struggles all of the time and it can become overwhelming and destructive to your mental and physical health.

These anxiety symptoms often develop when a person is dealing with an underlying issue. There may be a triggering event such as a loss of a loved one or a move to a new state that can cause these feelings of anxiety or sadness. Often a reason for these strong fears, worries, and depression can be found in a painful or traumatic event that happened in the past. A person may be unaware of a memory from the past “stuck” in their mind that is causing struggles in their daily life. Using EMDR to target anxiety can help your brain remember and reprocess events from your past. EMDR will allow you to work through difficult memories and emotions by recalling the memories, but they will no longer have a strong physiological reaction associated with them. This decrease in emotion tied to each memory will eventually lead to a calming effect on your mind and body. This process of EMDR does not wash away your feelings of anxiety and fear, but reprocesses your past and present so you can achieve the emotional health you desire. As your progress in counseling for anxiety and depression, you will begin to feel lighter, healthier, and more optimistic about your life and future.

3. Addictions that control your life

You might realize that some behaviors you engage in sabotage your efforts to succeed. It is frustrating to know what you want and need to change to become a healthier you. You feel frozen and are unable to make the changes no matter how many times you try. The shame and guilt you feel are overwhelming as you constantly let yourself and others down when you engage in these unhealthy behaviors. It is frustrating to continue to abuse substances, food, or engage in other habits that damages your relationship with yourself and other important people in your life. Change is something you desperately desire, but you feel stuck in the same patterns and behaviors that keep you from achieving your goals.

It takes real strength to admit you have personal issues to work on and that you need some guidance and support to make the necessary changes. Clients that I work with often find that their addictions are buried in the past and they are trying to hide from or numb painful past experiences. EMDR can help stop your desire to use and engage in unhealthy habits by helping your brain recall painful and disturbing memories and remove the emotional charge associated with them. EMDR therapy will help your brain reprocess those past experiences so they stay part of your past and not a trigger in your present life. Imagine the freedom and peace you can experience once you have been able to work through triggering events, past and present. With the help of EMDR therapy, you will learn how to treat your body and mind in a healthy way that will allow you to succeed personally and in your relationships with family and friends.

It is true that many people struggle to have the hope and happiness they desire for themselves and in their connections with those around them. Many people feel cemented in their daily patterns of life and do not know how to make the necessary changes they desire. However, if a person can identify and manage the traumatic events in their lives that have caused their anxiety, depression, or addictions, they will be able to find healing and be able to take the steps forward toward the future they envision. With EMDR therapy and other tools in your belt, clients will be able to walk out of the office with new ways to handle stress and emotions with feelings of hope. Clients will experience healing and develop resilience so that they can feel calm and empowered in their life.

Call (440) 231-0645 TODAY to find out if EMDR is right for you.