You may now be familiar with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing as a proven and helpful path to trauma recovery. Yet, you may still wonder,” who is EMDR appropriate for?”

As you may know, EMDR is a powerful therapeutic tool that harnesses the ability of your brain to adapt and heal. This is achieved through coaching from a therapist who helps you become calm and balanced through a process of simple back and forth eye movements combined with calming thoughts and visualization. This is then followed up with guidance toward thoughts, images, or memories for processing.

In effect, this combination of activity allows your brain to reprocess disturbing events, resolve and re-frame emotional pain more positively, and, ultimately, heal. Yet, you might still have questions about EMDR.

Who is EMDR Appropriate For? 10 Questions to Consider.

1. Can it help resolve PTSD related to military service?

who is emdr appropriate for

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, plagues many people who have served in the military. Many people saw terrible things as a result of war. The loss of friends and comrades occurs. The destruction of civilian life and communities can be disturbing. Inner conflict may take a high toll.

Miltary memories can haunt someone long after the war is over. This, in turn, can have a negative impact on everyday lives long after combat. Yet, EMDR can help veterans who are struggling to resolve what happened to them without constant verbal reexperiencing.

2. What about those struggling with addiction?

Addiction is an issue that millions of Americans struggle to overcome. Once substance abuse or other times of addictive behavior take hold it is very hard to loosen their grip. But EMDR can help in that it effectively helps resolve a past or underlying traumatic experience. A situation that is too terrible to talk about often inspires the path to addiction as a hurting person attempts to escape physical or emotional pain. People turn to substance abuse to “numb” the emotional pain. EMDR holds the promise of addressing and reprocessing the experience pain so that memories are not attached to such negativity.

3. Is EMDR effective for those with childhood trauma?

People who endured adverse childhood events (ACEs) are part of a broad and growing group that is greatly helped by EMDR. This treatment is particularly appropriate because children often harmed long before they have the words to express it. Perhaps, you might have even blocked out certain aspects of your childhood because remembering is too difficult. In EMDR treatment, you will eventually have the ability to recall the memory with little or no emotional pain. The event can become a memory you can manage and put into perspective as an adult without feeling retraumatized.

4. Does EMDR work for complex trauma?

Yes. Complex trauma occurs when you have repeated traumatic experiences. This could happen over a relatively short period of time, such as six months to a year. Or, it happens over years and even decades. All those experiences are compounded, one on top of the other. EMDR can help with untangling the mess. Keep in mind, that treating complex trauma requires advanced training, and so many EMDR therapists may not be adept at using EMDR to treat complex trauma.

5. How does EMDR address anxiety disorders?

EMDR certainly can help if you are struggling with an out-of-control fear or worry. With anxiety, there is often a trigger or several triggers that initiate an anxiety attack or negativity. Even when you are not directly subjected o that trigger, it may still be difficult to talk about it. EMDR enables you to deal with worrisome memories, triggers, and thoughts without stimulating more anxiety.

6. I suffer from physical pain. Can EMDR help me?

Research finds that EMDR can help with chronic pain issues. This may be because EMDR treatments cause you to process not just emotional pain, but also physical pain differently. When you experience pain, it’s hard to think about anything else. Your mind locks in on that discomfort and how distressing it is. With EMDR, your brain is redirected and can more easily relax, which lessens your pain.

7. Will EMDR improve depression?

One study of 30 participants found that those who received EMDR along with other treatments saw improvement compared to those who did not receive EMDR. Though a small study, the research reinforces the point that EMDR can help reprocess emotional pain and refocus thoughts leading to unhelpful rumination. Also, those who are older might experience an added benefit as well as it pertains to age-related depression.

8. Is EMDR appropriate for those with psychotic disorders?

EMDR can help those struggling with psychosis. These are people who experience hallucinations or are delusional. Studies show that these symptoms improved after the participants engaged in EMDR with an experienced therapist. Additionally, their symptoms did not worsen either. That’s helpful because it suggests that EMDR may be a non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical treatment option for those with psychosis.

9. Can EMDR treat those dealing with an eating disorder?

An eating disorder revolves around one’s relationship with food. Some people eat too much, others too little. Oftentimes an eating disorder develops because of past experiences. Negative memories surrounding body image, powerlessness, and more can lead to disordered relationships with food which are incredibly painful. Resolving related traumatic memories can help restore positive self-talk as well as healthy mental connections with food and your body.

10. What about treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

With OCD, people believe and fear that something unaddressed or unanticipated will cause them harm. This might be a disease or being trapped inside something like an airplane or a crowded room. EMDR interrupts this thought process gently and repeatedly without much exposure or ongoing discussion.

So, who is EMDR appropriate for? As you can see, a wide range of people can benefit from the treatment. If you are ready to investigate such treatment, please read more about EMDR therapy and contact me to discuss your options.


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