The Ultimate Guide to EMDR Therapy

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapeutic technique that has been used to treat symptoms related to trauma for nearly 25 years. In EMDR therapy, you attend to distressing memories or experiences while focusing on an external stimulus. This helps you reduce the negative emotions associated with those memories, leading to improved well-being. When you work with therapists experienced in EMDR in Park Slope, the goal is not to forget the past but rather to defuse the emotional power that past events have on you by changing your perception of them.

What Conditions Can EMDR Therapy Treat?

EMDR therapy has been used to treat a variety of psychological disorders, including:

  • Pain syndromes
  • Traumatic grief and complicated bereavement
  • Stress-related conditions such as panic disorder and general anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Performance test anxiety
  • Social phobias and specific phobias (such as fear of heights or fear of dogs)
  • Substance abuse and eating disorders (such as bulimia nervosa)
  • Relationship problems
  • Sexual dysfunction stemming from stress or other factors

What Does EMDR Therapy Involve?

During treatment, you work with your clinician to identify a troubling memory or experience. Your clinician will ask specific questions about the memory (for example, when it occurred and how it affected you) to help you focus on the emotions related to it.

The next step is to discuss various aspects of the memory between sets of eye movements or eye movements during these discussions. You follow the motion with your eyes only while thinking about the memory. You repeat this several times while discussing the different aspects of the memory and between sets of eye movements.

EMDR therapy also involves your clinician helping you identify a positive belief about yourself that will act as a coping mechanism when experiencing distress. This positive cognition (positive thought) enables you to replace the memory’s unhealthy aspects with more realistic or healthy ways of thinking. You will practice this positive thought process between sets of eye movements to help you retain its beneficial effects.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

It isn’t always clear how EMDR therapy works to ease psychological distress and strengthen coping mechanisms. Still, it may involve having repeated exposure to a traumatic memory while engaging in less distressing thought processes. As a result, the emotional power of that memory is reduced, making it less uncomfortable and intrusive.

Advantages of EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy has several advantages over traditional, insight-oriented psychotherapies.

EMDR therapy is usually completed in fewer sessions than traditional therapies. It is relatively brief and time-limited.

Additionally, it does not require exploration of the origins of your distress or troubling memories, which can be painful and lead to increased distress. It helps you develop practical coping tools that you can use throughout your life to deal with distresses as they arise.

In Summary

To summarize, EMDR therapy is a psychotherapeutic technique that has been used to treat symptoms related to trauma. It can help treat pain syndromes, traumatic grief, relationship problems, and social phobias, among others. During treatment, you work together with your therapist to identify a troubling experience and discuss different aspects of the memory between eye movements. Your therapist also helps you identify a positive belief that acts as a coping mechanism. It takes a shorter time compared to other therapies.