How to Use EMDR Therapy at Home
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a mental health treatment technique designed to help you process trauma or other stressful experiences. It has been used for treating various issues and conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, dissociative disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, eating disorders, attachment disorders and trauma-related problems like sleep disturbances, nightmares or difficulty concentrating.
EMDR therapy has proven to be an effective and efficient method for healing from stress, anxiety and other traumatic experiences. There have been dozens of clinical trials that back this up, making it popular among mental health professionals worldwide.
You can use EMDR therapy with your therapist or independently at home using do-it-yourself software programs. However, it’s important to remember that this type of treatment isn’t suitable for everyone; therefore it is recommended that you seek assistance from a trained and licensed therapist experienced in trauma treatment.
The EMDR process consists of eight stages that your therapist will guide you through. Phase 1 involves gathering information about your past and identifying any upsetting or disturbing memories you wish to process. They will then give you a brief explanation on what can be expected during EMDR and how best to manage emotions in between sessions.
Your therapist may ask you to describe what is happening inside of you when thinking about negative memories and how they make you feel. Include any physical sensations that arise as well.
This step is critical in the EMDR process as it allows you to identify what is causing your negative emotions and feelings. Additionally, it helps your therapist decide which beliefs need to be reinforced as you process these events.
At this stage, you will focus on cultivating a positive belief as you process memories. Your therapist can provide some tools to assist with this, such as alternate sounds, tactile pulsars, waving hands and knee tapping.
Once you have the positive belief, practice bringing memories to mind and observing what occurs in your body – such as how feelings or sensations change when the memory comes to mind. Eventually, you will be able to bring the memory back without any tension building up in your muscles or mind.
Your therapist will then assess your progress. They’ll check in periodically throughout the EMDR sessions to gauge how you are progressing and determine how long it takes for each one to conclude.
It may take several sessions to fully process a traumatic experience, and your therapist can tell you how much work remains for you. Together, they’ll set goals for treatment and create an action plan for continued growth.
People who have completed EMDR therapy report several benefits, such as relief from symptoms of PTSD such as panic attacks and insomnia, along with reduced negative self-talk. They also report an enhanced sense of peace, calm and relaxation, along with reduced hypervigalent thoughts about similar distressing events.