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Can EMDR Help With Anxiety?

Across the United States, millions of people experience mental illness on a daily basis. The most common mental illnesses in the country include major depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, affect approximately 40 million Americans. 

The individuals who are faced with the challenges of an anxiety disorder on a daily basis can often feel bogged down and overwhelmed by the symptoms that these conditions can produce. From excessive worry and hyper-vigilance to intrusive thoughts and insomnia, anxiety disorders can completely and entirely upend one’s everyday life. Fortunately, anxiety disorders of all kinds are treatable with a number of different types of evidence-based therapies. When considering getting professional treatment for an anxiety disorder, one might ask themselves “can EMDR help with anxiety?”

What is EMDR?

EMDR, which is abbreviated for eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing, is an evidence-based therapy originally designed to help treat the lasting impacts of trauma. First developed nearly 35 years ago, EMDR has led the way in helping to shape the landscape of therapeutic trauma treatment. But now as EMDR continues to grow in popularity, it is being used to help treat mental health conditions outside of the effects of trauma. So, when someone inquires, “can EMDR help with anxiety?”, the answer is a resounding “yes.” 

It is important to understand some of the basics of EMDR, as doing so allows individuals to better understand how it might be able to help them with their anxiety disorder. In short, EMDR focuses on encouraging eye movements when recalling traumatic events in an effort to reprocess the impacts of those events. This particular form of therapy is broken down and applied in eight different stages: 

  1. History and treatment planning – The therapist works with the client to develop a strong understanding of their personal history, allowing for the therapist to establish an individualized treatment plan.
  2. Preparation – During the second stage, the therapist will help prepare the client by informing them of what to expect from these sessions, as well as equipping them with some skills to help manage emotional distress during the sessions.
  3. Assessment – The client works to establish a specific “target” area of focus regarding their traumatic event to focus on during their session.
  4. Desensitization – The therapist utilizes light or tapping to help guide the client’s focus, allowing for the eyes to move back and forth throughout this step. The trauma is recalled and processed with the help of the therapist.
  5. Installation – The client is led by the therapist in creating positive outcomes from the trauma, such as helping to restore power to the client when they felt powerless before as a result of the trauma.
  6. Body scan – The therapist asks the client to identify how their body is feeling and what reactions they may be having (i.e. knots in the stomach, a racing heart that has now calmed, etc.). These physical responses are focused on and included in the reprocessing aspect of EMDR.
  7. Closure – The therapist helps guide the client towards feeling better about the traumatic event than they did before their session began.
  8. Reevaluation – The therapist will reevaluate the client’s progress during all sessions to help further guide their treatment.

Many researchers are still perplexed about how and why EMDR works to help straighten out balled up feelings and behaviors resulting from trauma. However, it is believed that by moving the eyes while recalling trauma helps to “rewire” the brain in ways that allow it to better manage the impacts of the trauma. 

Can EMDR Help With Anxiety?

EMDR has been utilized for individuals experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for several years. What many people may not know is that PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder. It produces symptoms similar to that of other anxiety disorders and is often treated similarly when it comes to therapy and medication. So when asked, “can EMDR help with anxiety?” it is easy to not only say “yes”, but to also say that it already has. 

Some of the many ways in which EMDR can help with all types of anxiety disorders can include the following:

  • Alleviate intensity of symptoms – Symptoms such as excessive worry, gastrointestinal complications, insomnia, and flashbacks can all begin to lessen in intensity with the help of EMDR. That is because EMDR works to help reset one’s overall response to the trauma they have experienced. 
  • Identify most traumatic events – EMDR therapy sessions can sort of be like pulling at a string. Clients may set out thinking that they are going to work on a specific event that has traumatized them but find that as they are working with their therapist, they uncover something else that they may have not otherwise known was affecting them so deeply. 
  • Establish rationality – Dealing with an anxiety disorder can make people feel like they are completely out of control and irrational. But, EMDR helps individuals rewire their behavioral and cognitive responses to trauma, allowing for those changes to improve their overall rationality regarding fears, concerns, and distressing events.
  • Provide control – So much about traumatic events tends to be outside of a victim’s control. But when it comes to EMDR, these individuals are given the opportunity to take the control back as they work to heal from their experiences. This boosts self-esteem, self-worth, and helps individuals shape their own personal identities. 

A client will typically participate in a handful of EMDR sessions, but the length of time that they continue them will be based on the severity of their trauma and their progress in reprocessing it. 

EMDR Therapy in Nashville

If you or someone you love is struggling with an anxiety disorder, do not be afraid to reach out to us right now. Our team of professionals at Arbor Wellness is here to help answer all of your questions and guide you towards the right level of treatment for you. 

Do not wait any longer. Contact us right now at 1-866-771-1649 to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one.