Trauma can cause significant problems if you feel stuck inside a traumatic memory. You may have been the survivor of a tragedy, experienced assault, or have seen destruction happen right in front of you. Just when you thought the world was a safe place, reality kicked in and the shock stayed with you.
The reason why such trauma stays with you? Essentially, it comes down to unprocessed, “stuck” memories.
Fortunately, there is a therapy known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This approach allows a therapist to guide your eye movements in an attempt to guide you toward recovery. In effect, you follow their finger or another object as it moves back and forth, Doing so, you recall a traumatic memory. This starts reprocessing the way you think of and perceive the memories that trouble you.
By the end of this relatively brief treatment, the targeted memory often has little or no negative effect on you and your self-perception. You don’t forget the trauma, you simply find the peace and tranquility to see it in new ways.
Here are several other reasons EMDR is a valuable tool in your effort to feel safe again.
How EMDR Therapy Works
There are eight phases in EMDR therapy. The first phase involves your therapist’s review of your symptoms and health history to better understand you. You will use this time to talk about your trauma and your memories.
The second phase prepares you with the skills to manage the psychological stress brought by traumatic memories. This is often initiated through deep breathing or mindfulness exercises. The third phase happens when you choose a memory to target, keeping in mind the psychological effects that come.
The fourth through seventh phases involve focusing on the negative thought. You will learn to replace that traumatic memory with a positive belief.
As you progress, your therapist continues to see how you are feeling and responding throughout each session. They will encourage you to keep going until the desired effects occur. Still, you remain alert and in control at all times. The eighth phase involves moving on to any new targets if necessary.
The aim is to realize that your traumatic experience does not define your whole life. It is a chapter of your life that you are able to close at any time. With guidance, you can recognize that it happened but that it has no control over your present moment.
Learning to Let Go
Traumatic memories can leave you stuck thinking about what happened to you. Sights, sounds, and even smells can resurface those memories when you are just trying to live your life.
EMDR will help you let go of the weight of anxiety and sadness this memory has brought to you. Instead of remembering this event so strongly, as if it just happened, it will feel more distant and harmless. Thus, the memory may still be there, but its impact will not be so powerful.
Trauma can also cause you to have negative thoughts about yourself. You may feel like the trauma you have been through happened because you deserved it somehow. Continuing to think negative self-thoughts can affect your self-esteem, goals, relationships, and more. In short, unresolved trauma can rob you of the motivation to go after what you want in life.
EMDR therapy supports you in thinking kinder thoughts about yourself and brings you a different perspective. The important thing about trauma is that we know how to cope when faced with difficulty and emotional pain. If you are experiencing heavy trauma and in need of EMDR therapy, please consider time with a mental health professional. We’re here to help.