EMDR Therapy Side Effects
EMDR therapy can be an effective treatment for many mental health conditions. It provides a secure space to process traumatic experiences and enhance one’s overall wellbeing.
At your initial session, your therapist will review your history and explore how EMDR might benefit you. They then craft a treatment plan specifically tailored to meet your requirements.
The therapist will then guide you through a series of eye movements and sounds to access memories and feelings of distress. During the session, try to focus on one back-and-forth movement or sound that lasts around 30 seconds, such as the therapist’s finger moving or tapping with both hands simultaneously.
You might experience feelings of anxiety, nervousness or even a bit of panic during an EMDR session. These reactions are common and usually last less than a minute.
Therapists can assist you in working through these emotions, though it may take several sessions before you feel your anxiety and stress levels decrease. They also teach coping techniques which will enable you to deal with these emotions more effectively in the future.
Your therapist may suggest using relaxation techniques or other coping strategies to keep your distress levels low after each EMDR session. If you are uncertain how to use these tactics, your therapist can instruct you.
Some PTSD patients report decreased heart rate and skin conductance responses after a single EMDR session, which can aid with more restful sleep. This is thought to be the result of your body resetting its response to the event and shifting toward a more relaxed state.
Another EMDR therapy side effect is a decrease in pain or anxiety that may arise as you process memories of trauma. This is believed to be due to your brain consolidating memories in a positive light, enabling better processing and release of distressing feelings.
During an EMDR session, your therapist will help you identify and process the memories and feelings causing you the most distress. They then guide you through them in a way that allows for full presence during your traumatic experience.
They may lead you through a somatic component, which is movement therapy designed to release physical tension and pain in your body. They could also guide you through a body scan, which involves focusing on the body to identify any sensations or feelings associated with trauma.
Your therapist may ask you to keep track of any changes between sessions and check in with you periodically to assess how symptoms are progressing. They might suggest taking a break from EMDR in order to give both body and mind time for healing.
The therapist will alert you when they feel that a triggering moment has arisen, which is when memories of your trauma resurface. Although these moments may come unexpectedly and be uncomfortable, they are an expected part of treatment and shouldn’t stop you from completing it.