5 Benefits of EMDR (Even If You Haven’t Experienced Trauma)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has exploded in popularity in recent years, and for a good reason. It’s one of the most effective forms of therapy for treating trauma. In fact, many people cite EMDR as the leading factor that helped them feel better about themselves and their pasts.

That said, the benefits of EMDR extend beyond post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma resolution. Today, practitioners use this modality to treat a variety of issues. Let’s get into what you need to know.

Decreasing Anxiety

Anxiety is a chronic condition that may be downright debilitating when left untreated. It can affect all areas of your life, from the relationships you share with others to your confidence in the workplace. If you struggle with an anxiety condition, you already know how frustrating it can be to try and manage your symptoms.

Research on EMDR shows that this treatment can be just as beneficial in treating panic attacks and hypervigilance as CBT. That’s because EMDR challenges stubborn associations shared between triggering circumstances and anxiety symptoms. Through your EMDR treatment, you can learn how to anticipate and, subsequently, manage anxiety as it arises.

For example, if public speaking leads to feelings of extreme anxiety, EMDR can support you in learning how to remain calm and collected before standing on stage. In learning how to anticipate anxiety-provoking situations, you can also learn how to change your physiological and emotional reactions. 

Changing Negative Thinking

I’m stupid. I shouldn’t have done that. I am such a failure. How often do you tell yourself these self-deprecating statements? If you’re like most people, you are your own worst critic, and you scrutinize and criticize every perceived mistake you made. This negative voice undoubtedly compromises your self-esteem.

EMDR can help you identify, challenge, and even change the negative thoughts cluttering your mind. You’ll discover the origins of this distorted thinking. You’ll also learn how to reframe unhelpful associations into more realistic and positive ones.

Improving Confidence And Self-Esteem

Do you find it challenging to motivate yourself to make positive changes in your life? Does your low self-esteem interfere with you believing in your own worth and competence? Feeling unable to visualize your success and happiness makes it difficult to actually achieve those things.

EMDR works by targeting distressing memories and negative thoughts associated with yourself. You may not even know these memories or thoughts before you start your work. However, by identifying them, you learn how to process and heal from them.  

In the final phases of EMDR, you can visualize the negative experiences without the feelings of distress associated with them. And by eliminating the turmoil, you open space to harness a greater sense of happiness.

Coping With Grief

When you lose someone you love, you may not know how to cope with the pain. The feelings can be incredibly intense; you may experience any combination of sadness, anger, shock, guilt, relief, and confusion. These feelings can be exhaustive and consuming, and they may not disappear on their own.

The cause of death itself can be traumatic. For example, maybe you were the primary caretaker for someone who died from a terrible illness. Or, perhaps, you lost someone suddenly and unexpectedly. Regardless of the circumstances, some people experience a phase where life feels meaningless, and the future seems bleak.

EMDR helps process the associated symptoms of the trauma surrounding grief. It can remove you from a state of acute pain, and it can also lessen the severity of the emotions you experience. EMDR doesn’t eliminate the memories of what happened, but it can help move you towards a more sustainable path of healing and fulfillment.

Decreasing Chronic Pain

Approximately 1 in 5 Americans live with chronic pain. If you struggle with this condition, you already know how taxing pain can be on your mental health and your everyday functioning. Unfortunately, relief isn’t always straightforward. In some cases, it can take several months or years to establish a formal diagnosis and find an effective treatment plan.

However, some studies show that EMDR may reduce symptoms associated with chronic pain. The research suggests that bilateral stimulation activates the region of the brain associated with calmness and relaxation. During EMDR, the brain “scans” the triggering stimuli (your pain) and begins making the associations that you’re safe. 

When you learn how to relax- despite being in pain- you notice that the pain holds less power. Subsequently, you start to experience more relief, and your attitude may shift from a stance of helplessness to a more established feeling of control. 

Final Thoughts On The Benefits of EMDR

Although the majority of studies have focused on its impact on treating trauma, the additional benefits of EMDR therapy continue to unfold with emerging research. From decreasing your anxiety symptoms to boosting your self-esteem, EMDR can provide you with the processing and techniques you need to move forward in your life. 

At Willow Counseling, we provide support for a variety of issues including trauma, anxiety, and compassion fatigue. We are here to guide and support you on your journey. Contact us today to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.

Willow Counseling, PLLC – Nashville, TN

Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community, recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills, relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.


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