Common Questions About EMDR Therapy
Is there any discomfort involved in the EMDR process?
EMDR Therapy can evoke strong emotions during a session. This is perfectly normal and desirable, since the technique works on the negative feelings and thoughts when they are brought into your awareness. However, the re-experiencing of these unpleasant feelings is brief and they will soon leave you when the process is completed. If you will persevere through the upsetting memories for a short time, you will likely be pleased with the outcome of the therapy. Relief occurs rapidly, and for many, permanently.
What happens after an EMDR Therapy session?
In between EMDR Therapy sessions, it is helpful to keep a journal to record any unusual or noteworthy thoughts or feelings. You can then bring your notes to the next session. This log will help your therapist to know if any adjustments in therapy are warranted. After an EMDR Therapy session, there may be a strong sense of relief, a feeling or openness or often euphoria.
This is a normal reaction to the release that has, and is, taken place. From time to time, some clients experience unusual thoughts or vivid dreams that may or may not have any meaning. This is part of the releasing process and should not cause undue concern. Be sure to mention these experiences to your counselor in your next session, and if you are concerned, be sure to contact them.
Is EMDR hypnosis?
No. Similar to hypnosis, EMDR Therapy seems to work with the unconscious mind, bringing into consciousness the repressed thoughts and feelings that must be experienced again in order to release their energetic hold on the individual. However, during the EMDR Therapy session, you are awake, alert, and in control at all times. The healing that takes place with EMDR Therapy is much faster than with hypnotherapy.
How does EMDR Therapy work?
When disturbing experiences happen, they often seem to get "locked" in the nervous system. When a person is very upset, the brain seems to become unable to process an experience as it would normally. Since the event is "trapped" in the nervous system, it continues to be triggered whenever a reminder occurs. This "locked" information is often reactivated by a variety of reminders and is responsible for an individual's frequent feelings of fear, helplessness, and hopelessness.
The EMDR Therapy technique does two very important things. First, it "unlocks" the negative memories and emotions stored in the nervous system; second, it helps the brain to successfully "reprocess" the experience. The therapist works gently with the client, guiding him or her to revisit a traumatic or upsetting event, recalling any negative thoughts, feelings, and images.
The therapist uses bilateral stimulation, either through eye movement or tactile stimulation (holding pulsars in your hands that vibrate back and forth), to release the emotional experiences that are "trapped" in the brain. The disturbing thoughts, memories, and feelings are "reprocessed" and become less threatening. The associated distorted negative self-beliefs (e.g. "it was my fault," "I have to be perfect," and "I am not good enough") are exchanged for more positive and adaptive self-beliefs.
This process can be complex if there are a lot of experiences connected to the negative feelings or distorted self-beliefs. The therapy sessions continue until the traumatic memories and emotions are relieved.
How effective is EMDR Therapy?
When compared to other methods of psychotherapy, the process has been rated as far more effective by mental health professionals. Because of the ability to experience emotional healing at an accelerated rate, clients should notice improvement within the first several sessions. The clinical effects of EMDR Therapy have been supported in numerous controlled studies over the past two decades. For references to these studies, visit EMDR Institute or the EMDR International Association.