Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing has become an increasingly recognized therapeutic approach for people living with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and PTSD. While many people have seen transformative results with EMDR, the therapy comes with potential drawbacks and challenges. Given this, how can you decide if you’re ready to embark on this therapeutic journey?
How Does EMDR Work?
EMDR focuses on bolstering connections between the part of your brain that engages in day-to-day social interactions and the part that remains stuck in negativity or trauma. The essence of EMDR is to bridge this gap and facilitate a more comprehensive healing process. However, the experience can be intense, and success largely hinges on your readiness and your therapist’s expertise.
Effective therapy should never re-traumatize you or leave you feeling overcome with challenging emotions. Before starting EMDR, talk with your therapist about the difference between experiencing some emotional discomfort and feeling overwhelmed.
If you’re contemplating EMDR to help you move past trauma, depression or other challenges, consider these questions.
1. Relationship With Your Therapist
- Do you feel at ease letting your therapist know when you’re distressed?
- Can you comfortably disagree with your therapist, even if it might lead to potential disapproval?
- Does your therapist help you calm down when you’re upset?
- Are you open to trying any exercises your therapist recommends, even if they seem unsettling?
A firm “yes” to all these questions indicates a healthy therapeutic relationship. You might not be ready to try EMDR yet if you rejected any of these ideas. Discuss any uncertainty with your therapist.
2. Trigger Management
- Can you heed sound advice from someone you trust when triggered?
- Are you capable of restraining yourself from acting on potentially harmful impulses during these moments?
It’s crucial to have a degree of control during triggering events. If you fear violent reactions or struggle with suicidal ideation and self-harm, you must have safety measures in place before considering EMDR.
3. Assessing Your Emotions
- Are you receptive to kindness?
- Can you extend kindness to others during your good moments?
- Can you appreciate differing viewpoints without feeling threatened?
If it’s challenging for you to express empathy and compassion, or if powerful emotions make you shut down, nurture those attributes before pursuing EMDR.
The Road Ahead With EMDR
Starting EMDR therapy is a personal decision, one fraught with introspection and caution. While the idea of confronting repressed memories and reframing internalized negativity can be intimidating, a skilled therapist will be by your side, guiding you through the process. The questions above can serve as a preliminary gauge of your readiness. Remember, every therapeutic experience is unique, and what works for one person might not succeed for another.
At Hope by the Sea, our family-owned California center treats substance use disorders and accompanying mood disorders for men, women, young adults, executives, Christians, families and older adults. We believe in helping you find the best therapeutic approach tailored to your needs. If you’re considering EMDR or have more questions, our dedicated team is here to address all your concerns about entering mental and behavioral health treatment.