What is EMDR?
EMDR-stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. According to the EMDR Institute, it is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed “to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories,” negative memories, and helps to improve mental health.
The idea behind EMDR is that through the process of eye movement and desensitization, the facilitation of accessing + processing of traumatic experience and memories occurs. EMDR is the theory that your mind is capable of healing from psychological trauma & injury much like your body is able to recover from physical trauma or injury.
What is the process of EMDR actually like?
The process of EMDR therapy is an eight-stage treatment:
- History Taking: This is unique to each client & therapist. In session, EMDR therapists and clients will decide together what will be most beneficial mental health issue to target through EMDR therapy and then a treatment plan will be developed.
- Preparation: In this phase, a therapist will ensure that the client undergoing the EMDR treatment has tools to handle emotional distress. Stress reduction techniques for both during and between therapy sessions will be given.
- Assessment: In this phase, a therapist and client will determine the targeting goal for the processing. When a target has been chosen, clients will decide on the visual imagery that they feel best represents the memory. From there, therapist and client will discuss the things that come along with the memory & imagery with either a negative cognition (“I am useless” or a, a positive cognition (“I am worthwhile”). The client will then rate how true these cognitions feel on a scale of 1-7, how disturbing the target is from 0-10, and finish with describing what your body has been feeling/experiencing throughout this phase.
- Desensitization: Unlike the first three phases, clients don’t talk to their therapist in this phase. Clients will receive different sets of simulations such as light taps or hearing tones, and continue moving their eyes back and forth. Clients will once again use the 0-10 scale to assess disturbance levels.
- Installation: This phase is called the “installation” phase because it works on “installing” the positive cognitions where the negative cognitions currently are. When clients are able to truthfully rate them at a 7 using the scale from step 3 (7 meaning they feel completely true), they then move onto the next phase.
- Body scan: In this phase, clients are asked to scan their bodies and take notice of any present tension. This includes if anything still feels ‘off” in regards to the target.
- Closure: Clients return to equilibrium. Therapists may close the session by guiding the client through self-control techniques, and can give them a plan on what to do between sessions.
- Reevaluation: This phase exists at the beginning of the next appointment, but is considered the final stage in the 8-step EMDR treatment (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy). In this phase, the therapist will circle back to what went on in the previous session and re-evaluate the client’s disturbance level.
Who does EMDR therapy help the most?
EMDR was developed to help clients with PTSD, anxiety, depression, phobias, eating disorders, substance abuse, schizophrenia, sexual dysfunction, chronic illness-related stress, disturbing experience, and traumatic events.
Do you need support in your journey to process & heal from trauma and improve your mental health? Grief Recovery Center in Houston, TX can help. You can reach us at (832) 413-2410 or by filling out the form on our website. Take the time to speak with one of our therapists today.
Why should I choose EMDR?
EMDR is an evidence-based approach to healing from distressing experiences, like trauma, eating disorders, panic disorders, and more. The process involves revisiting disturbing memories, reprocessing trauma so it is no longer stuck, and replacing the distress with a positive thought instead.
Distressing or traumatic experiences don’t discriminate. In the last two years alone, there has been enough upheaval and uncertainty to cause a lot of distress. The trauma and grief from the pandemic and its aftermath has led to a mental health crisis in the United States.
In Texas alone, one out of 13 adults has experienced a major depressive episode in the last year.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, but it’s often not treated the same culturally. There’s still some shame associated with needing mental health treatment, which only encourages people not to get help.
Not only is EMDR evidence based, it has the benefit of working more quickly than traditional therapy in many cases. What might take months or years to cover in traditional therapy can be covered in a fraction of the time with EMDR because of the way treatment is structured and the healing that takes place. For folks in the Houston area who need mental health support, an EMDR therapist can make a big difference in quality of life.
Things to think about when looking for an EMDR therapist
Finding an EMDR therapist can be a lot like finding a therapist with any specialty, though there are a few things to keep in mind.
Often, people say “go with your gut” when looking for a therapist, but trauma can interfere with your sense of intuition. It can be hard to trust yourself or the messages you’re giving yourself when you’re in the midst of trauma. If that’s the case for you, it’s okay. There are other ways to figure out if an EMDR therapist is right for you.
Questions to ask potential EMDR therapists
One way to get to know potential therapists better is to do a consultation call with them. Many therapy practices offer a consultation to help match you to a therapist who will be a good fit for your needs. When looking for an EMDR therapist, it can be helpful to learn more about their history with EMDR and their approach to treatment. A consultation call is the perfect time to ask questions like:
- What kind of training and how much of it do you have? When did you complete your EMDR training?
- How does the EMDR process work? Do we jump right into processing?
- Does EMDR work for everyone, and do you think it’s appropriate for my situation?
- What happens in sessions if I get overwhelmed?
- Do you complete ongoing training in EMDR?
What is your approach to EMDR?
- What other therapeutic approaches do you use (multiple perspectives and methods can be helpful during EMDR therapy)
- How long does treatment typically take?
- What should I prepare for during an EMDR session?
- Are online sessions possible?
Taking the time to do some research and ask questions can give you a lot of information to make a decision on choosing an EMDR therapist.
Questions to ask yourself after meeting an EMDR therapist
Once you’ve met with a therapist, you can do some self-reflection to take note of what your feelings are. You can ask yourself some questions like these:
- Did I feel heard, validated, and safe when I spoke to this person?
- Were they able to explain EMDR to me and discuss how it would be appropriate for my situation?
- How did I feel while talking to this person?
Tips for finding an EMDR therapist in Houston
If you’re looking for an EMDR therapist in Houston, here are some tips to find the right fit:
- Search therapy directories
This is often the first step that people take when looking for a therapist, and for good reason. Depending on the directory you use, you can usually find a large number of therapists in your area, and even filter your results so you only get what you’re looking for. Many of them allow you to search by your insurance plan or the specialty you’re looking for.
In addition, some professional associations or training programs also have directories where you can search for the right EMDR therapist so you can expand your search to those if you’re not finding anything on other directory sites.
- Ask your other providers
Health and wellness professionals often have large networks that they refer people to, so if you’re looking for an EMDR therapist it may be helpful to ask one of your current providers. If there is a provider you trust and feel comfortable talking to, ask if they have any recommendations for trauma or EMDR therapy in the area. They may be able to help you find a good fit because they know more about your situation. If they don’t know of a provider with an opening, they may be able to point you to a support group or therapy group in the meantime.
- Ask trusted loved ones
The people who are closest to you may be able to help you with your search for an EMDR therapist. If you feel comfortable, check in with a few close family members or friends to see if they have any recommendations for you or know of anyone who does. When you’re dealing with trauma or another distressing experience, talking to people about your situation might be really hard. See if you can deputize a friend or family member to do some asking around for you if you’re not up for it yourself. Lots of people want to help when someone they love is in distress, and this can be one way to get some support while you work toward healing.
- Consider online therapy
Since we are in the middle of a mental health crisis in this country, it can sometimes be hard to find a local therapist with the specialty you need. Online therapy can be helpful in this case (and in many others) because it allows you to get therapy from anywhere in your state. Some people prefer online therapy because it allows more flexibility with scheduling and it allows you to sit in your own safe space while in session.