This blog is not a substitute for therapy, but provides evidence-based education for the purposes of self-help and information
Thinking about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to deal with trauma, anxiety, loss, or other emotional issues? If you’re researching or waiting to start EMDR therapy, you may want to know how to prepare for the process. This guide aims to help you understand and prepare for EMDR therapy.
EMDR therapy is a unique type of treatment that helps your brain better organize and store memories that might be causing distressing symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety. It essentially neutralizes the impact of difficult experiences, allowing you to access calming resources and adaptive reasoning more effectively.
Many believe that the EMDR process begins in the first therapy session. In reality, the actual EMDR process, which involves accessing specific memories and using bilateral eye movements to reprocess them, usually doesn’t start until the second or third session or sometimes even later. The first sessions focus on gathering your history, creating a treatment plan, and preparing you for the process.
The EMDR therapy process can bring to surface emotions experienced at the time of the trauma. This could make you more sensitive temporarily before your symptoms start to ease. As a result, therapists ensure that you have effective coping strategies and support systems in place before the therapy begins. Qualified therapists will also teach you new coping strategies during the initial stages to enhance the success of the EMDR process.
While the therapist will guide you through the bulk of the preparation, you can start practicing good self-care. This could involve daily relaxing activities such as walking outside, practicing yoga, conversing with a supportive friend, or doing some deep-breathing exercises. Eating a healthy diet, limiting consumption of sugary and processed foods, and getting adequate sleep are also beneficial.
Engaging in self-care actually strengthens adaptive networks in the brain, which can facilitate a smoother EMDR therapy process. The resolution of traumatic memories becomes easier with more resources. An important part of the therapy involves developing these healthy resources, and your therapist will assist you in this process.
Your journey towards healing and growth is uniquely yours, and it’s important to remember that progress may look different for everyone. Challenges might arise, but overcoming them is possible with the help of EMDR therapy, effective preparation, and your inherent resilience.
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Christina Janiga and associated employees of Christina Janiga Psychotherapy offer virtual psychotherapy and couselling sessions through secure, Canada-based software called OnCall Health and JaneVideo. OnCall Health and JaneVideo are secure and encrypted online video platforms that meet all of Canada’s privacy requirements and laws.
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