Before, During and After My EMDR experience: FAQ

**Warning May Trigger**

I had previously written on #PTSDchat about my experience. But I wanted to a give few updates on what has happened since and how EMDR for me is life changing. I also want to share some more of my new experiences and why EMDR is my “go to” for healing my PTSD. I will write this blog in a FAQ format..FAQ is list of questions and answers relating to a particular subject, especially one giving basic information for users on a website.

Let the FAQ begin..

What is EMDR? Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. EMDR therapy involves attention to three time periods:  the past, present, and future.  Focus is given to past disturbing memories and related events.  Also, it is given to current situations that cause distress, and to developing the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions.

What does it do? EMDR takes those experiences stuck in our adaptive memory, and moves them into our non-adaptive memory, where they belong.

What happens during an EMDR session? EMDR gets to the CORE of what triggers you into intrusive thoughts, flashbacks etc.. When I go into my therapy sessions my EMDR therapist gives me a list of cognition’s positive and negative. But I pick from the negative list for a statement that feels true such as “I am evil”. That is the one I worked on in therapy yesterday because my intrusive thoughts make me FEEL like I am evil even though I am not. The therapist will use her fingers or a pointer and move them around as she reminds me of that statement and made me explore an intrusive thought I had in her office which made me feel evil. My therapist also gives me “tappers” which help in the process for me and stem from bilateral stimulation. I watched the image like a movie on a screen, just observing it and letting my mind go where it needs to from that image.

What happens to me physically during EMDR? During the session of EMDR you will feel different things happening in your body, you may feel sadness in your heart, heat from anger. It is NOT scary you are just working to get to the core of your trauma and it’s part of the process. As you watch the image as if you are watching a movie the therapist will check in. I worked on a core issue in therapy yesterday..being exposed to graphic horror movies at such a young age and forced to watch them. That was the CORE of my triggers, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and nightmares that have haunted me all my life. I felt the feelings in my body move around inside it will usually go from my stomach up to my head where it will reprocess that negative cognition. Yesterday as I was reprocessing the sensations went into my neck..without even moving my neck cracked a few times which has never happened before. I thought that was a pretty interesting experiences because you can feel the core memory move through you..and that was confirmation.

How long do sessions take and how many will I need? For the traumatic memory we worked on yesterday it will take a few sessions. I was in the office doing EMDR for an hour and fifteen minutes yesterday, but the memory didn’t fully process yet. The therapist got me to a “safe” point of the session and we will continue it next week. I have had one of my traumas reprocess in less than two hours. Every person will vary and depending on if your PTSD is Complex it may require extra treatments.

What does it feel like when your brain fully reprocesses your traumatic memory? As I had mentioned in the “what happens to me physically question” I felt the sensations throughout my body. From past experience I knew when I felt a heavy fog around my nose and eyes I knew I was about to fully reprocess. When it fully reprocessed I felt a almost like a cold breeze in my brain, and I could FEEL the release as my brain successfully reprocessed a traumatic memory. It was an amazing and relieving moment because I knew I was one step closer to being healed.

What tips would you give others that might not be mentioned? First off PLEASE make sure the therapist you see for EMDR is a licensed EMDR therapist! Also, it is hard work and a draining process but so worth it. After my sessions I feel a little bit dizzy for a few seconds and my advice would be to plan a nap after your session because it will zap your energy.

What is life like AFTER your EMDR experience? A lot of my childhood memories were traumatic, but going through EMDR has removed a lot of the clutter of BAD memories unearthing good one’s I never knew I had or had forgotten about. When I was triggered into horrific intrusive thoughts most of my life I began being triggered into positive memories. I have had several times of the past few weeks of starting EMDR when I get bursts of happiness from a childhood memory.

What is an example how EMDR changed me? I have positive triggers now..My Grandma has been my rock in life and all my great childhood memories are with her. I walked past a lady in a store the other day and her perfume gave me a burst of happiness. It took me back to the time I was out with my babysitter and ran into my Grandma at the store by the perfume counter.

Here is the link to my previous blog on #PTSDchat about my EMDR experience as mentioned at the top of this blog: http://ptsdchat.org/2016/04/04/myemdrexperience-2/

I hope I have been able to answer some questions you may have. Just a reminder I am not a therapist or Doctor, I am just one of the many that battle PTSD. Experiences may vary..but that is mine. EMDR is an effective TREATMENT for PTSD because it gets to the root of your trauma which is needed to heal. Please contact me with any questions you may have.

  • LJ
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