EMDR: An Effective Therapy for Trauma and Anxiety Disorders 10/12/2023

Written by TWCCLLC Staff and Jill Clingan

As with many industries, there are a lot of acronyms and words in the therapy world that are tossed around. There’s ACT, CBT, DBT, and EMDR just to name a few! There is also gestalt therapy, attachment-based therapy, play therapy, and mindfulness-based therapy. It’s overwhelming enough to be brave and reach out for help through a therapy appointment, but how do you figure out what type of therapy would be helpful for you? Fact is, you can trust your therapist to suggest an appropriate type of therapy, but as a client you can also request the type(s) you would like to explore for yourself!

We are starting a blog series that breaks down types of therapy into short, informative explanations so that you can have a better understanding. After all, you are THE most important factor in your healing, and are the one at the wheel. You have the power to transform and evolve using the types of therapy as tools. We will start with a type of therapy that has become very popular in recent years (for good reason).

EMDR: What it Stands For and How it Began

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

EMDR’s origin story begins in 1987 when psychologist Francine Shapiro observed that certain eye movements provided relief from distressing memories for herself and many of her clients. She then went on to develop this technique through controlled research studies with veterans and assault victims. It is now considered an evidence-based therapy to help individuals process trauma.

EMDR: What It Is

In EMDR, the therapist and client first evaluate what is causing the client distress. In many types of therapy, clients talk through their issues in depth as they work through them. In EMDR, individuals do not need to go into detail about what is causing them distress. Instead, drawing on the science of how the brain stores and processes memories, a therapist using EMDR therapy focuses on the emotions that accompany thinking about a traumatic event. Eye movements, taps, tones, or lights are used to help reprocess the distressing feelings that influence thoughts and beliefs associated with the traumatic event. After the distressing feelings have been reprocessed, more adaptive beliefs become accessible and coded with the memories of the traumatic events so the memories aren’t so distressing anymore.

For example, the belief that “nobody can be trusted” often gets very sticky after a traumatic event, and that belief triggers a lot of distressing emotions (fear, worry, hopelessness, helplessness). After EMDR processing, we begin to see that some people can’t be trusted, and we can learn how to identify who has earned trust and who has not. A significant advantage of EMDR therapy is that it is not only effective but it also induces more rapid results than many other types of therapy.

EMDR: Who It Helps

EMDR is extremely beneficial for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, personality disorders, eating disorders, dissociative disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

If you think that EMDR might benefit you, there are several therapists here at The Wellness Counseling Center, LLC that offer EMDR therapy. You can also call us at (816) 974-7378 to explore sessions with us at one of our three locations (Greenwood and Harrisonville, Missouri as well as our Prairie Wellness office in Overland Park, Kansas).

Thank you for being with us here at The Well! Come back early November as we explore Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and as always be well♥️

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