Navigating the aftermath of a traumatic event can feel overwhelming. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can arise from psychologically distressing life circumstances, such as a car accident, a natural disaster, or the death of a loved one. It can also arise from a long-term stressor, such as abuse or a combat tour, or acute incidents such as sexual assault.
While some people are less affected by trauma than others, some survivors of these types of events may experience symptoms of PTSD, such as painful memories, emotional distress, and hyper-vigilance. In some cases, trauma can lead to other mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
Whether you're living with PTSD, experiencing disturbing memories, or taking care of your mental health after a traumatic event, it's important to remember that professional support is available. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy can help you overcome trauma and live a more fulfilling life.
Eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy, or EMDR, is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy used to treat trauma, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
EMDR helps reduce the symptoms associated with emotional distress and adverse life experiences. During EMDR sessions, your EMDR therapist will help you use eye movement techniques, such as back-and-forth eye movements, to help your brain reprocess disturbing memories. In turn, you'll learn how to replace negative emotional reactions to traumatic experiences with more positive ones.
Like other forms of talk therapy, EMDR starts with a history-taking session to help your therapist learn more about you and your treatment goals. As EMDR therapy progresses, your therapist will help you "process" traumatic memories so you can let go of negative thoughts and self-limiting beliefs.
During an EMDR session, you'll focus on a visual image related to a specific memory, a negative belief about yourself, and any related emotions and bodily sensations while engaging in bilateral stimulation (back-and-forth eye movements). At the same time, you'll focus on a positive belief, using EMDR techniques to replace negative emotional reactions to traumatic memories with less-charged or positive reactions and beliefs.
By providing valuable insights into traumatic experiences, EMDR can help you move past the traumatic event and reduce the emotional distress that comes with traumatic memories. For example, EMDR can help an assault victim realize that they were not to blame for the incident, that they are now safe, and that the event is really over. In turn, EMDR helps individuals regain a sense of safety so they can live more productive lives.
As a form of trauma treatment, EMDR therapy can help promote a sense of safety, reshape your perspective, and transform self-limiting beliefs into positive ones so you can overcome traumatic memories and live a healthier life.
EMDR not only helps individuals let go of self-limiting beliefs, but it also replaces those negative thoughts and beliefs with more positive ones. Traumatic experiences can take a significant toll on our internal dialogue, affecting our relationships, self-image, and behaviors. Research shows that EMDR therapy can help reduce the emotional distress associated with traumatic memories, leading to healthier emotional processes and a reduction of PTSD symptoms.
EMDR can be especially helpful for people who aren't ready to disclose the details of their trauma to another person. Unlike other types of talk therapy, EMDR doesn't require talking about the details of your traumatic experience. Instead, your EMDR therapist will ask you to think about your target memory and describe what feelings and sensations you experience when you think about it.
EMDR therapy is an accelerated form of therapy, meaning it can improve your mental well-being in fewer sessions than traditional talk therapy. With that said, the number of therapy sessions will be determined by the extent of your trauma. While some individuals experience improvement after six sessions, while others require weekly sessions for 1–3 months.
Reaching out for help can feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. At Charlie Health, we offer personalized virtual mental health treatment for adolescents, young adults, and their families.
Unlike traditional online therapy programs, our intensive outpatient treatment program offers high-quality treatment for clients who need more than once-a-week therapy sessions. Our supportive, experienced clinicians will help you navigate the healing process at your own pace from the comfort of home. We accept insurance and are available 24/7 to support you.