Healing from trauma is a brave and challenging journey. For many, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has proven to be a valuable tool in that trauma-healing process. As with any trauma therapy, it’s rarely sunshine and rainbows – healing can be uncomfortable. That’s why it’s important to recognize that as you undergo EMDR therapy, you may experience heightened anxiety and overwhelming emotions.
As you heal, your anxiety may increase but that’s not a reason to discontinue your EMDR therapy. In fact, the beginning stages of EMDR are intended to build resources and tools to help as you delve into difficult memories and emotions. The reality is that EMDR can also help you navigate your anxiety and ease the weight of the emotions you’re experiencing. Let’s explore a few ways you can advocate for yourself while going through EMDR and how your EMDR therapist can offer guidance as you navigate through it all.
Acknowledge and Validate Your Feelings
When you start feeling anxious or overwhelmed during your EMDR sessions, it’s important that you know this is completely normal. It’s also a sign that EMDR therapy is working hard to bring all of those buried emotions and traumatic memories to the surface. Acknowledge your feelings – don’t lock them away. Mention it to your therapist so that you can work through the emotion whether it’s during reprocessing or otherwise. Healing isn’t always a linear process – there will be a wide range of emotions that you’ll feel along the way. It’s OK to feel what you’re feeling even if you don’t fully understand it- remember that.
Your Therapist is Your Ally
The journey you’re on is a tough one and sometimes people don’t want to disappoint their therapist if they feel like something isn’t working or you’re not ready to delve into a certain topic.
As an EMDR therapist, I’m your ally on this journey but you are the captain so don’t hesitate to share your feelings and concerns with me or any other EDMR therapist! We’re trained to help you manage your anxiety and process your feelings. When you communicate with us openly, we can work together to adjust the approach and pace of your EMDR sessions to better suit your needs.
Stay Grounded with a Self-Care Routine
Have you heard of grounding? It’s a therapeutic technique where you do activities that “ground” you or reconnect you to the earth. Grounding techniques like deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, and even just focusing on the sensation of your feet on the ground can help you stay present and connected rather than being overwhelmed by past trauma. As you go through EMDR, it’s also a great idea to prioritize self-care aimed at soothing and nurturing your emotional well-being. Try activities like yoga, hiking, creative activities, journaling, or just spending time in nature. A solid self-care routine can give you a sense of stability and a break from challenging moments.
Lean on Your Support System
Whether it’s friends, family, or people you know through a support group – you need a support system while going through EMDR. Don’t underestimate the power of community. When you share your experiences and emotions with those who understand you, it can be comforting and validating so don’t hesitate to reach out to them when you need support.
Being patient with yourself is hard to do under normal circumstances but when you’re going through EMDR to heal from trauma, you need to be patient and compassionate with yourself throughout the process. Take breaks when you need to and set realistic expectations for your progress. It’s not a race – remember that! This is a personal journey of healing, growth, and resilience and there’s no rush.
Trust the Process of EMDR
EMDR can be challenging and emotionally draining but it’s designed to help you gradually release the emotional burden of trauma. As you work with your therapist, you might find that your anxiety and overwhelming emotions is less intense over time. Trust that process and stick with it.
EMDR therapy can be a powerful path to healing for those who have experienced trauma. While it’s normal to experience increased anxiety and overwhelming emotions during the process, remember that these feelings are part of your journey toward healing. You CAN ease the weight of anxiety and gradually move towards a place of greater emotional well-being and resilience. Have faith in your own strength and abilities.