Is EMDR Therapy Right for Treating Anxiety

People can benefit from EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) for anxiety. This is because EMDR therapy helps them experience less stress from reliving traumatic events. With the aid of EMDR, you can improve your self-esteem and link recent and past traumatic events to new, empowering thought patterns.

This blog post will explain how EMDR therapy works and what people with anxiety can expect if they receive this treatment to reduce their anxiety and stress. Keep reading!

What Exactly Is EMDR?

Francine Shapiro was a psychologist in California who developed EMDR in 1987. Francine noticed that her anxiety levels decreased as she watched her eyes follow a branch as it turned from right to left during a nature walk. She was driven to learn more about the brain and how to use bilateral stimulation (or tapping from right to left) and eye movements to reduce anxiety.

So, people who have experienced trauma can benefit significantly from EMDR therapy. The idea that people experience these symptoms when the trauma they experienced overpowers the natural ability of the brain to heal is the base of this therapy. Trauma can cause an individual to experience a slight event that may trigger a memory—a thought, image, smell, or sound— that leads to anxiety.

The therapist will work to facilitate bilateral stimulation while safely associating that trauma during an EMDR session. A rhythm moving from left to right is called bilateral stimulation. For EMDR therapy, a therapist might apply bilateral stimulation, like eye movement, hand tapping, or stimulating audio.

These movements lessen the strong emotions linked to memory. You might notice that your therapist concentrates on one bilateral stimulation during a session. The most common technique is eye movement desensitization. In this method, you move your eyes in a specific way while processing traumatic memories, helping you heal from distressing life experiences or trauma.

How EMDR Works as a Treatment for Anxiety

To reduce anxiety, EMDR therapy involves directing eye movements while you imagine upsetting scenarios and changing your focus to more uplifting ideas. It indicates that EMDR is the best anxiety therapy.

Although most mental health professionals acknowledge the key benefits of EMDR therapy, its popularity level seems low than other therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Most people still don’t understand this therapy.

This explanation of how EMDR functions may help you understand EMDR therapy: Therapists specializing in EMDR ask their clients to hold the memories of anxiety and stress-inducing stimuli in their minds, such as traumatic memories of a life-threatening event like a road accident. This process involves clients who track the therapist’s back-and-forth movements with their eyes, much like an individual who follows a hypnotist’s swinging pocket watch in an old Hollywood movie.

This process requires the therapist to instruct the patient to concentrate on their sensations and thoughts while gradually turning their attention away from negative thoughts and toward more promising ones. Accordingly, the patient’s anxiety disappears, and they regain control over their emotions. Indeed, Shapiro claims that EMDR is a successful treatment that results in “rapid decreases in negative emotions and/or vividness of disturbing images” in dozens of randomized controlled trials. EMDR therapy offers relief from a range of somatic complaints” connected to anxiety disorders, according to numerous other evaluations.

One advantage of EMDR therapy is that you don’t always have to talk about upsetting memories. This makes this therapy especially appealing for people who have trouble expressing their feelings or for whom those feelings are still too painful to discuss. Instead, using EMDR for anxiety may be a largely internal process during which you are gently guided by a kind therapist who aims to help you move from a place of anxiety to one of safety and inner peace. This procedure might help you gain access to parts of yourself that conventional talk therapy might not be able to.

Advantages of EMDR Therapy for People with Anxiety.

It can be difficult for the patient to verbally describe the traumatic incidents because anxiety results from repressed childhood trauma. The main advantage of choosing EMDR therapy is that patients do not have to talk about their traumatic past. Therefore, even those who find it difficult to express their traumatic issues through words can benefit from this therapy.

Your EMDR therapist will put a lot of effort into using gentle guidance to move you away from unfavorable perspectives and toward a more favorable outlook so you can discover a calm and anxiety-free place.

EMDR Therapy Treats Different Anxiety Disorders

According to studies, EMDR therapy can be effective for treating the following anxiety disorders but not limited to them:

  • Panic disorder
  • Disorder of generalized anxiety
  • Anxiety related to a flying phobia
  • Panic disorder and phobia of heights
  • Fear of people
  • Obsessive-compulsive illness
  • Phobias
  • Generalized anxiety about performance
  • Performance anxiety, especially in athletes and musicians
  • Worry in the caregivers
  • Stress brought on by natural disasters
  • Anxiety related to postoperative care and medical situations

PTSD and Anxiety are Similar

Anxiety is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD because it can be seen in that context. People struggling with PTSD have either experienced trauma in their childhood or the recent past that keeps coming up whenever a situation similar to the original trauma occurs. Alternatively, it might not have happened, and the patient would still be dealing with the effects of the past. The person may have trauma-related nightmares and experience perceptual disturbances like visual or auditory hallucinations. It’s not necessary for the incident to occur again for an anxiety outbreak to start similarly.

An anxiety attack can be sparked by anything slightly resembling a traumatic event. The severity and frequency of anxiety attacks will vary depending on how the traumatic experience affected the person.

EMDR therapy can help the brain process traumatic memories more adaptively, stimulating the brain’s natural ability to heal itself. A bilateral stimulation activity can activate the brain’s natural healing process, allowing the patient to process the traumatic memory more adaptively.

Final Words

If you are experiencing anxiety and need to get rid of this health condition, EMDR therapy may help you reduce your anxiety. You can learn more about this treatment method and how it can help you by contacting Maureen Donohue, a licensed EMDR therapist in California. I also serve people with our brainspotting, mindfulness, and chronic pain virtual therapy services. Contact me to overcome your anxiety!

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