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  • Writer's pictureNicole Ambrose, LCSW

Unlocking Healing: Exploring the Benefits of EMDR Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

In today's fast-paced and demanding world, anxiety disorders have become increasingly prevalent, affecting millions of individuals worldwide. So much so that many have developed ways to live with their symptoms, despite how debilitating it is at times, because they just don’t know that a life without them is possible.

Anxiety is something that everyone experiences to some degree throughout life and because of this it is often minimized or dismissed in those that experience more severe, clinical anxiety issues. Many don’t seek treatment because the people around them chalk it up to them being “too sensitive” or “over-reactive,” so instead they are left thinking there is something inherently wrong with them and just internalize it.

For those that do seek out help, it’s hard to figure out what kind of support is needed. Is it best to focus on coping skills? Is it better to talk out situational stress? Should you see a therapist or a psychiatrist or both? Are there support groups that may be the best route? It’s a lot on someone whose body and mind are already overwhelmed and on edge.

This blog post aims to shed light on the benefits of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy as a promising and transformative treatment option for anxiety disorders.

What Are Anxiety Disorders?

Before diving into the advantages of EMDR therapy, it is essential to comprehend the full nature of anxiety disorders and the various presentations of them. Anxiety disorders encompass a range of conditions characterized by excessive fear, worry, and distress.

Conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder fall under this umbrella term and are often the most commonly known. But there are others as well; for example, there is separation anxiety disorder, selective mutism, agoraphobia and other specific phobias. Even obsessive compulsive disorders and trauma disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could fall under the umbrella of anxiety-related disorders; although this is not how they are categorized in the DSM these days.

What Is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. It is a comprehensive psychotherapy approach that integrates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), bilateral stimulation, and psychodynamic therapy. EMDR therapy is guided by eight distinct phases that facilitate the processing and resolution of traumatic memories and associated negative beliefs.

The process starts with discussing treatment goals, developing a plan and teaching various self-soothing techniques to help you manage distress. The next phase is called “desensitization.” During this phase, you will focus on a specific distressing memory while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, which is a big term meaning to stimulate the left and right hemispheres of your brain typically through eye movements, rhythmic sounds or alternating vibrations from a handheld device.

Once you have desensitized the level of distress, you’ll move into the next phase called “installation.” This where positive beliefs are identified and strengthened to replace negative thoughts associated with the traumatic memory. And the final stage is to process any residual physical sensations associated with the traumatic memory using the same bilateral stimulation process.

So why do all this? Well, keep reading.

The Benefits of EMDR Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

  1. Effective Processing of Traumatic Memories: EMDR therapy can assist you in processing and integrating distressing memories, allowing you to develop adaptive resolution. This means that your brain will gain new perspective and put pieces of the puzzle together in a way that allows you to move forward without emotional charge and distress.

  2. Reduced Anxiety Symptoms: Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of EMDR therapy in alleviating anxiety symptoms. By targeting the root causes of anxiety, EMDR therapy promotes deep healing and symptom relief, leading to improved overall well-being.

  3. Enhanced Emotional Regulation: EMDR therapy equips you with valuable tools and skills for emotional regulation. By processing traumatic memories and related negative emotions, you’ll learn to manage your emotions more effectively, reducing anxiety triggers and enhancing emotional resilience.

  4. Resilience Building: EMDR therapy can help you build resilience by challenging negative beliefs and fostering positive thoughts. Through the use of bilateral stimulation and reprocessing techniques, you’ll develop a stronger sense of self and gain the ability to face future challenges with increased confidence.

  5. Complementary Approach: EMDR therapy can be integrated with other therapeutic modalities, such as medication, traditional talk therapy, or mindfulness-based techniques, to provide a holistic treatment approach for anxiety disorders. It is adaptable and can be tailored to meet your individual needs.

EMDR Therapy Can Help You Thrive

You’re not crazy and you’re not alone. You don’t have to “just live with it” anymore. There are treatments that can have a tremendous impact on your quality of life. If you’re looking for a new way to work through your anxiety and the underlying factors that contribute to it, you’ll want to consider EMDR therapy as an option. It’s a specialized treatment with incredible outcomes.

As an integrative or holistic mental health therapist, Nicole Ambrose uses EMDR therapy and other modalities to address anxiety, trauma and chronic stress. With her you’ll learn tools to help you regulate your body, develop routines that support your health, work through situational triggers and stress, learn to establish boundaries to protect yourself in an unpredictable world, and heal from the experiences that keep you stuck in a state of constant fear and worry.

If you’re ready to start EMDR therapy at our Coral Springs office or online through our secure telehealth platform, call 954-391-5305 for your complimentary consultation.

For more information about EMDR with Nicole, click here.


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