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  • Writer's pictureHeather Keenan, LCSW

Is EMDR Only For Trauma?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy) is a therapeutic technique that was originally developed to help reduce PTSD symptoms.

The purpose of EMDR therapy is to reprocess past traumatic experiences, in order to change how both our body and brain respond now, in response to triggers. This is done by changing the belief system we hold onto due to past experiences. For example, a belief system can be reprocessed from, “I’m not safe” to “I am safe and can take measures to protect myself if needed.”

However, through my practice of EMDR therapy, I have found this approach to be helpful for a variety of concerns that my clients have.

EMDR for Social Anxiety:

Social anxiety is a common response when individuals are put in a situation where they are either around a lot of people or are needing to have a conversation with someone.

Oftentimes, social anxiety is tied to a specific memory where the anxiety began to develop. This memory can vary from a time they had to present in front of the class and were made fun of to a memory of them feeling dismissed by a family member when talking about their feelings. Through EMDR therapy, we can identify the belief system fueling your social anxiety and work on reprocessing memories that are attached to that belief system.

EMDR for Low Self-Esteem:

Low self-esteem is another concern that EMDR therapy can address. We focus on identifying the belief systems that often exacerbate low self-esteem such as, “I’m not good enough” or “I’m unlovable.” We spend time mapping out memories where we felt “not good enough” or “unlovable”.

For example, there may be a memory of you bringing a school project to your mother and her ignoring you. Memories such as that one can plant the idea of, “I’m not good enough.” However, through reprocessing, we are able to think back to that memory and attach the belief of, “My mother was constantly busy with work, it had nothing to do with me being good enough.”

EMDR for Chronic Pain:

Long-term chronic pain can begin to have lasting effects on the nervous system. As a result, the pain persists. In EMDR therapy, we explore what kind of belief systems are attached to the pain by asking, “If the pain were speaking to you, what would it be saying?”

We then answer the question, “What would you like to be able to say about yourself when you think of the pain?” Through reprocessing, we change how the chronic pain is stored in your nervous system, in order to decrease the pain.

EMDR for Drug and Alcohol Addiction Cravings:

When someone in recovery is experiencing high cravings for a substance, EMDR therapy can be used to reduce the intensity of the cravings.

EMDR for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:

EMDR therapy has been found helpful for those experiencing OCD symptoms. At times, OCD symptoms can be a result of a traumatic experience. If so, we reprocess the specific memories attached to the OCD tendencies. If it is not necessarily attached to a traumatic experience, we can still use reprocessing and desensitization as a way to reduce the symptoms.

There are a variety of ways EMDR therapy can be helpful for you. If you resonate with any of these concerns or are wondering if EMDR therapy can be a good fit for you, please contact me (Heather Deecken, LCSW) for your complimentary consultation.

I provide counseling and EMDR in Fort Lauderdale and online in the state of Florida. I look forward to speaking with you and answering any questions you might have about how EMDR may be beneficial for you.

Take the first step today and call me for a 15-minute complimentary consultation at 954-391-5305.

If you want to learn more about how to overcome traumatic experiences and PTSD symptoms click here.


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