You may have heard that EMDR works quickly and effectively for relieving symptoms of trauma, grief, abuse, pain, phobias, panic attacks and many other problems. Still, it can be difficult to describe the actual experience of EDMR. Many people have questions about how it actually works. Here are some of the questions I am frequently asked about EMDR therapy.
1.) Is EMDR anything like “hypnosis”?
A lot of people wonder if EMDR is about recovering repressed memories or forgotten events, which can sometimes be the purpose of hypnotherapy. Others wonder if they may be put into a “hypnotic state.” Actually, the point of EMDR is not to access buried or “repressed” memories, but rather to work with your individual system's power to heal itself. EMDR therapists allow your own inner wisdom to bring forth ideas, thoughts, emotions, sensations or images that are healing for you.
2.) I Don't Have Strong Memories of My Past – Will EMDR Still Work For Me?
You may have heard that EMDR can involve focusing on memories. But what if you do not have strong memories of past events? The good news is, a small fragment of a memory, strong feeling or physical sensation are often enough to start an EMDR process. I have seen successful EMDR processing with little to no visual component. Additionally, EMDR has other uses besides helping with past memories; it can be used to process current challenges or to prepare for future stressful situations.
3.) What Is “Processing” Like in EMDR?
Each person processes uniquely. Some people have a dream-like process. They may picture something bizarre, such as a scene melting away or see themselves flying. Others process emotionally. They may start out feeling sad and find themselves working through fear or anger, then relief. Still others process through thoughts and insights such as “I did the best I could under the circumstances.” Others process through physical sensations; they may feel an area of tight muscles release and expand. There is no right or wrong way to process.
4.) Will EMDR Work For Me?
EMDR seems to work for most of my clients, but not everyone. I use an introductory EMDR process knows as the “inner retreat” or “safe place” to discover how people respond to EMDR. This gives people a sense of what it is actually like to try EMDR while learning a relaxation tool. It is not always a good time for someone to try EMDR. For example, if you are in the midst of a crisis or struggle with severe addiction, it may not be a good time to try EMDR.
5.) I am Worried I Will Do it “Wrong”
Because EMDR is unlike many other therapies, many people feel awkward at first and fear they may not be doing it “right.” The good news is that there is no right or wrong way for you to do EMDR. Ideally, the EMDR will help you feel relief or resolution of something that has felt stuck. However, that does not always happen and if it doesn't, that is never your fault. My job is to check in with you to see how processing is moving along and help out if you feel stuck.
EMDR is a highly effective strategy that can be hard to describe. If you think EMDR could help you, feel free to contact me for more information.