Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a highly effective treatment for anxiety-related conditions affecting the sympathetic nervous system. Therapists primarily use it to treat PTSD, but can also be used to treat other disorders and conditions – especially when combined with other therapies. If you’re struggling with any of these conditions, consider seeking out an experienced anxiety therapist trained in EMDR.
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety
- Various Phobias
- Other Similar Conditions
A More Inclusive Definition Of Trauma
As EMDR was initially developed to treat PTSD, many people do not realize that it can help them deal with other kinds of trauma. However, trauma is not limited to experiences of abuse, assault, or military combat. It can also include any deeply distressing event that has a lasting effect on how your mind operates. By this definition, everyone has experienced some form of trauma.
Why Trauma-Informed Therapy Works For Anxiety
Many types of anxiety have a basis in trauma. Someone who was bullied as a child might develop social anxiety as an adult as a result of their brain trying to protect them from reliving the trauma. For those with panic disorder, the memory of their first panic attack is likely encoded in their brain as a trauma. So, they may avoid situations or locations that remind them of that trauma.
Unresolved fear of panic attacks causes their perceived “panic-free zone” to shrink until nowhere feels safe. EMDR can help break this vicious cycle by targeting those painful memories.
The Science Behind EMDR
The frontal regions of your brain already have built-in mechanisms to inhibit anxiety and other negative emotions. However, when you’re experiencing severe anxiety or panic, the primitive limbic system at the center of your brain has taken over because it wants to protect you from perceived danger. This is the case even if you aren’t actually in danger!
What To Expect At Your EMDR Session
Your therapist guides you through eye movements, taps, and tones while having you think about traumatic memories or anxiety-provoking situations. This allows your brain to reprocess the memory more adaptively. This method can be highly effective in helping you move past the trauma and find healing. Over time, this forms new neural pathways, allowing your frontal lobe to better regulate and suppress the “false alarms” generated by your limbic system.
EMDR Vs. Traditional Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy and talk therapy are great methods for exploring your emotions, but they may not be enough to resolve your anxiety quickly. Psychotherapy may help you identify the root causes of your distress, but it can also trigger traumatic memories and anxiety without providing the tools to reprocess them. EMDR may be a great addition to your treatment plan if traditional methods aren’t working for you.
Accessible EMDR Therapy In Michigan
If trauma-based anxiety is interfering with the quality of your life, you deserve relief and healing. At Health for Life Counseling, our compassionate counselors are well-versed in EMDR. We offer both in-person and online therapy depending on your needs. Contact our Grand Rapids office today to schedule your first appointment.