Frequently Asked Questions About EMDR Therapy

Have you been feeling numb or emotionally detached? Are you pushing away others, or dealing with relationship issues?

If you have had trouble sleeping lately, or been feeling extra jumpy or anxious, or you’re having issues trusting people while feeling depressed, lonely, and alienated, it’s all right. There is hope. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can be a strong part of your individual therapy sessions.

We’re sure you may have come across this term online and you probably have a lot of questions to ask, such as what exactly is EMDR? How does it work? And is EMDR right for me? Not only have we mentioned this psychotherapeutic treatment on our website, we also thought now would be the best time to offer you further insight and guidance. In this article, we answer these frequently asked questions about EMDR therapy below. 

What is the History of EMDR?

EDMR was developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD, who discovered that by moving her eyes in particular directions, emotional tension was lowered. She further investigated the phenomenon by making eye movement desensitization and reprocessing her doctoral thesis subject in 1987. By integrating clinical experience, she formulated this unique method which she named Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Who Can Benefit from EMDR Therapy?

If you have experienced a distress or trauma that you’ve not recovered from. Often those who have one or more of the following symptoms with varying degrees:

  • Feeling “stuck”
  • Excess tension/stress
  • 抑郁
  • 焦虑
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue 
  • Appetite issues 
  • PTSD
  • Panic attacks
  • Fear and phobias
  • Grief and loss
  • 人际关系问题
  • Childhood trauma
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Occupational stress
  • Combat stress
  • Auto accidents
  • Violent crime
  • School trauma
  • Agoraphobia
  • Anger management
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Birth trauma
  • Divorce recovery
  • Loss of self esteem
  • Procrastination
  • Perfectionism
  • Addictions
  • Compulsions/OCD
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Ongoing physical health concerns despite treatment

Are There Different Types of Traumas?

There are two easy categories for trauma, “Big T,” and “Little t” traumas. 

Big T trauma: a single incident trauma or big life changing event. Categorized as a single or series of severely traumatic experiences. Examples include, major accidents, war, sexual harm. 

Little t trauma: a series of traumatic or abusive experiences. Many “Little t’s” are described as a series of less traumatic events over time, which we may not recognize as a “Little t,” but remain as a suppressed memory. Examples include, childhood abuse and neglect, repeated verbal abuse from someone close or authority figure, bullying, domestic abuse, and complicated grief. 

“Little t” is more common than “Big T” traumas with many of us not even recognizing them as traumatic.

How Does EMDR Work?

When you experience a “Little t” or “Big T” trauma, it can lock itself in your nervous system with its original image, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. It becomes stored in your brain (and body) in an isolated memory network which prevents learning from taking place. Old memories become repeatedly triggered and you feel emotionally “stuck.” In a separate network in your brain is most of the information needed to resolve the “Little t” or “Big T.” EMDR processing links these two networks, so new information can be brought up to resolve these issues. 

Is EMDR the Same as Hypnosis?

Unlike hypnosis or hypnotherapy, you are not put into a trance-like state; instead, you are fully awake and alert during all stages of EMDR. It helps ease the healing process of your brain naturally, ridding what you don’t want or need, and strengthens what you do want and need. You can stop the EMDR at any time and return to talk therapy. 

Do I Have to Talk About My Trauma During EMDR Therapy?

During the processing, ironically, you do not have to share details of disturbing or traumatic events if you do not wish to. You do not have to repeatedly relive your trauma. You quietly hold these memories in your mind, while mentally visiting them in small doses, and then you let your mind wander when it naturally wants to wander. Bilateral stimulation allows your brain to self-heal, like when your body heals itself after a physical injury. After several sessions, you may find yourself wanting to discuss what happened, with the sense of relief that sessions are no longer as emotionally charged. 

How Long Does Each EMDR Session Last? And How Frequently Is Treatment Recommended?

Sessions are recommended at least once a week if possible, for between 3-12 sessions, done in 60 or 90-minute intervals. How often is something you can discuss with our staff, yet you also can do what feels comfortable for you. 

Can I Do EMDR By Myself?

Please do not try this technique on your own and to yourself. EMDR is most effective when a specific procedure is followed, which includes distinct phases. 

Therapists trained in EMDR closely watch the progression of traumatic memory paired with bilateral stimulation and use specific interventions to free any obstacles to your brain’s natural ability to heal. Together, you and your therapist change the neural circuitry around memories that upset or disturb you. Doing this on your own is not recommended. 

Is EMDR Therapy Right for Me?

If the answers to these questions pique your interest as a possible treatment option for you, and you’d like to learn more, don’t hesitate to book a consultation

This therapy might sound unusual, however extensive studies have been conducted so it’s an evidence-based therapy technique you can ask our staff about directly if you choose.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding EMDR therapy or other counselling services, please get in touch with our team today.

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