Why I Believe EMDR Therapy Can be Helpful for More than PTSD
Updated: Nov 16
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is discussed diagnostically as being caused by exposure
to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence via direct experience, witnessing (in person) events as they occur to others, learning about the event occurring to a loved one, or repeated/extreme exposure to aversive details of the event. Further, there are specific categories
of symptoms that one must experience to be considered for this diagnosis.
There are many evidence-based approaches to the treatment of trauma/PTSD, including but
not limited to Brainspotting, Cognitive Processing Theory, Somatic Experiencing, and Eye-
Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is likely that if someone is diagnosed with
PTSD, one of these will be used to treat them in a therapeutic setting.
How Does EMDR Therapy Work?
Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an intervention created by
Francine Shapiro based on the idea that issues in your life are often caused by an incomplete
processing of a distressing event that has caused unhelpful, negative thought patterns about
yourself. You can think of your memories as many filing cabinets. Each drawer holds multiple
“files” of memories. Sometimes, a file sticks out of the drawer and prevents it from closing. This
open drawer is hard to ignore and can cause a lot of issues in your life. With EMDR, we are
trying to open the drawer, pull out the file, look at it, and put it neatly back into the drawer so it
may close. We use something called bilateral stimulation to achieve this.
By focusing on past experiences, current triggers, and future potential challenges, the
goal of this treatment is to:
- Alleviate distress from the disturbing memory
- Improve view of self
- Relieve body disturbances
- Resolve present and future triggers
EMDR was originally created and studied to treat PTSD. However, further exploration
has shown this treatment to be helpful in alleviating other psychiatric disorders, mental health
problems, and somatic symptoms. Based on this information, I believe EMDR therapy can be an
effective treatment for those struggling with depression, anxiety and phobias, grief, attachment,
borderline personality disorder, addiction, eating disorders, chronic pain, and more.
Why choose EMDR over other interventions?
Unlike traditional talk therapy, EMDR offers a permanent solution to ongoing distress in your life. That’s right – after a complete treatment of EMDR you should no longer feel the same amount of emotional distress you did before. In addition, you don’t have to go into extensive detail about the distressing memory in order to have success in this intervention. EMDR can also be paired nicely with other interventions, including Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Internal Family Systems.
EMDR is a well-researched, incredibly effective intervention that is versatile in it’s
application. If you are interested in learning more about EMDR and how it may benefit you, we
offer a free 10-minute phone consultation to all potential clients.