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  • 5 Things to Know Before Meeting with an EMDR Therapist

    Meeting with an EMDR Therapist

    5 Things to Know Before Meeting with an EMDR Therapist

    1. How EMDR Therapy Works

    EMDR Therapy involves reprocessing of disturbing memories through bilateral stimulation of the brain (or alternating left and right movements). This stimulation helps the brain interpret and understand the memories in a healthier and less upsetting way. Your therapist will ask you to recall a specific memory while engaging you in bilateral stimulation (BLS). BLS can include alternating eye movements, tapping on legs or arms, or using a device that creates alternating vibrations or sounds.

    2. EMDR Therapy Involves Some Prep Work

    EMDR Therapy can be intense and triggering for some patients. Prior to beginning the reprocessing phase of EMDR, a therapist will teach you exercises to cope with triggering memories and intense emotions. The length of the preparation phase varies based on each individual’s needs.

    3. EMDR Therapy Does Not Involve as Much Talking as Traditional Therapy

    If you’ve met with a therapist before, you’ve likely experienced a conversational style of therapy. With EMDR Therapy, talking is limited to prevent disruptions to the  reprocessing phase. Your therapist will routinely check in with you in between sets of bilateral stimulation to ask what you are noticing and ensure you are doing ok.

    4. Not Everyone is an Appropriate Fit for EMDR Therapy

    EMDR Therapy requires you to access and sit with upsetting memories. Your therapist will first guide you through exercises and assessments to determine if you are ready to move forward with reprocessing trauma memories. You may not be ready to participate in EMDR if you have trouble recalling memories, severely dissociate when stressed, or have not developed enough coping skills to manage intense emotions. If your therapist determines you are not yet ready to participate in EMDR, this means you may need to focus on traditional therapy first and can revisit EMDR Therapy in the future.

    5. EMDR Therapists Treat More than Just Trauma

    There is a misconception that you must have endured an extreme trauma to participate in EMDR therapy. Although EMDR is effective in helping individuals heal from trauma, it can also be used to address other issues such as; depression, anxiety, substance use, stress, phobias, relationship issues etc. Memories used for reprocessing can be any memory that you believe has contributed to a presenting issue.

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