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How Can EMDR Help Me With My Past Trauma?

EMDR is a valuable and useful tool for processing past trauma and can lead to long-lasting and greater relief from anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an eight-phase guided therapy.

During the first of these sessions, you and your therapist will review your history and prepare a treatment plan together. After that, you’ll choose a memory to target and spend the next few sessions fully processing the memory. When you’ve processed the chosen memory through a series of desensitization and “installation” techniques, you’ll reassess with your therapist.

Trauma-informed care

First and foremost, EMDR follows a trauma-informed care philosophy. Before you and your therapist work on processing a traumatic event, your therapist first helps you find a space of safety and security from which to work. Using this compassionate method, your therapist keeps you from becoming further traumatized during EMDR therapy.

A trauma-informed treatment plan understands the physical and emotional tolls of trauma. Engaging within this framework means first laying a secure foundation, and from there, helping a client strengthen their emotional resilience.

It also involves talk therapy and a focus on prevention strategies for avoiding re-traumatization. These strategies include anything from breathing exercises to meditation to journaling. Developing the coping mechanisms you need to work through your trauma is the primary focus of the first few phases of EMDR.

EMDR therapy leans on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The first three phases of EMDR are essentially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. This means the initial steps focus on connecting with your therapist and establishing a treatment plan. Understanding your history and your story is essential for your therapist to help with your recovery.

Once you and your therapist have connected about your story, you can choose a single traumatic event to focus on first. The idea of EMDR is to work through each traumatic scenario slowly and with compassion. So choosing one to focus on is important for your future, more active EMDR sessions.

Processing trauma

In simplest terms, EMDR helps you with your trauma by helping you process it. Trauma manifests itself negatively in our minds and bodies whenever we’ve yet to process the trauma fully.

This method of processing differs from traditional exposure methods. EMDR does not focus on exposing you to a traumatic event again and again, hoping to desensitize you about the event in general. Instead, it focuses on creating a more positive or more objective understanding of the event.

Over several sessions, you and your therapist work together to “install” this newer, more positive thought within the memory of the tragic event. For example, think of a time when you were scolded as a child. Perhaps you grew upset and were left to cope alone. When recalling this event, you may feel shame, anger, or sadness.

During your EMDR therapy sessions, you work with your therapist to install a new understanding of the event, such as:

I know that even though my caregiver lost their temper, they still loved me. I know they love me because afterward, they took me out for ice cream and apologized for yelling. They’re human and had a human response to their own stress. It doesn’t mean I’m unloveable or a bad person.

How can I get EMDR therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a valid and accessible therapeutic process. With the help of a certified therapist, you can start healing your trauma and start feeling whole again. Call me, and we can talk about how EMDR therapy might help you with your past trauma.