My Experience with EMDR Therapy {Mental Health Awareness Month}

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As a person in the helping professions and someone who proactively tries to support my mental health, I have been seeing a regular psychotherapist for years. I experienced many benefits from this, especially when I had a cohesive bond with the therapist and felt empowered by hearing my true emotions and needs reflected back to me in ways I hadn’t previously considered.

I felt that I was “ok enough” after those years and decided to stop seeing a therapist after I got married.

EMDR Therapy

Now having experienced divorce, I can’t advocate enough the need to have some kind of therapy during your marriage and hopefully before. Using my husband as a confidant and “therapist” was a huge mistake that led to our downfall, considering that men are not equipped as licensed therapists, and even if they were, it’d be a conflict of interest to be their wife’s therapist.

I experienced some serious trauma and once I got to the bottom of what I had truly experienced, I knew I needed some big intervention to help me get back to my capacity. One of my friends who had experienced a similar trauma situation recommended EMDR therapy and honestly, I could never go back. I think this is the best-kept secret of the mental health world and it has the power to change everyone’s life if it was more socially acceptable and available for everyone.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

My experience of EMDR is that the therapist uses technology to put you in a state similar to a REM cycle, only you are totally awake instead of asleep. You then get to choose (this is where the reprocessing comes in) how you want to view that traumatic situation so it will not bother you as much anymore (if it bothers you at all). The methodology of EMDR is using your brain’s natural processes to desensitize you to triggers that previously brought you straight to your knees.

As an example, working out and exercising used to be a big trigger for me, to the point that I couldn’t step foot into a gym without having a panic attack. I did a session of EMDR and specifically worked on this. After discerning for myself through EMDR how I wanted to view exercising, I was able to reprocess my trauma into a decision that I could make exercising look however I wanted; I didn’t need to impress anyone or follow anyone’s rules. Any amount of exercise was ok and it was brave for me to just join a gym, which I did and I LOVE IT now.

I wanted to share my experience because this is something I wholeheartedly believe in.

After working through my trauma, my mind has become sharper than ever since I don’t have to muddle through an experience of flashbacks and fear before I can think. The technology is phenomenal. It doesn’t involve much talking at all and EMDR is very much driven by you, your brain, and what you need to work on during that session without having to re-traumatize yourself again by discussing every situation in detail.

Once you work through one triggering/traumatic situation, your brain will systematically prune all memories related to that issue. Sometimes years of trauma can be brushed out of your brain like a spring cleaning sesh. That is how your brain works! Neural connections in your brain tie together similar thoughts, memories, and ideas. Once you reprocess one part of the connection, the rest of it goes away. The more that you reinforce your positive thoughts and behaviors, the stronger those neural connections get.

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