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The Key Reason EMDR is a Holistic Therapy and Why It’s Not Just for Treating Trauma

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an approach to therapy that is growing more popular by the day. In fact, you might have seen it cited on your local or national news as one of the most sought after mental health methods by people looking for long-lasting healing.

One of the reasons EMDR comes so heavily recommended is its firm background in research. The approach is based on years of evidence that shows EMDR brings about results more quickly than many other therapeutic modalities. On top of all of this, EMDR has earned it’s claim to fame as being one of the most impactful types of therapy when it comes to helping individuals heal from trauma.

You may know someone who has undergone a singular traumatic event like a car accident or is the bearer of much more subtle and subversive developmental traumas like having an alcoholic parent. EMDR is a great tool for helping these people isolate the memories of the traumatic event, gain insight into their meaning, and integrate them into a new narrative so that they can create an in-depth sense of acceptance around the experience.

EMDR Can Help People Experiencing A Wide Range Of Life Challenges

Though you may be familiar with EMDR and how highly effective it is for this type of work, the fact that the approach has been pigeonholed for trauma treatment, does the method a bit of a disservice. Unfortunately, many people with other mental health concerns are missing out on the benefits of EMDR, because they don’t believe they fit the profile of someone who would benefit from the therapy. Not only does this spread the wrong message about EMDR therapy, it prevents individuals who could greatly benefit from getting the help they need.

Because of this, it’s important to shed more light on EMDR and its potential uses for people with other challenges besides trauma. What’s fascinating about the approach is the fact that it has a wide array of uses within the therapeutic community and is a much more holistic approach than research or the media shows. In fact, EMDR is arguably most effective with those who are looking for a more insight-oriented or integrative counseling experience.

Getting Your Heart And Mind On The Same Page

Perhaps for you, it feels like your heart and mind are often in two different places. You might take a look at your life and see the things you’ve always wanted, a strong marriage, a loving family, a great job, but for some reason you still feel unfulfilled by your life. It feels like your purpose in life has been replaced by the need to live up to others’ standards rather than your own.

While EMDR may seem like too clinical a therapy for your needs, the truth is isolating earlier memories with EMDR and processing them to form a new version of your truth could go a long way in helping you feel more fulfilled in life. Creating a sense of alignment between where you’ve been, where you
currently are, and where you hope to be is a sure way to help you create a lasting lifestyle change.

When you schedule a session with an EMDR trained therapist, you will actually dive deep into your value system and create a holistic link between the experiences in your life and your current feelings and behaviors. Having a grasp on this connection can go a long way in helping you feel more connected to yourself.

Keep reading to see how holistic an approach EMDR really is and how it can help you feel more fulfilled.

When You Don’t Get To The Root Of Your Problems

Somewhere along the way you might have gotten the message to suck it up when things feel off. To ignore your intuition and to keep chugging forward. That life isn’t always sunshine and roses and that if you have a certain number of possessions or family connections you should be thankful and count your blessings.

The problem with this message is that it keeps you from ever admitting that something inside you doesn’t feel quite right. Sure, it can be difficult to look at a seemingly great life – one that many people would be jealous of – and feel guilty or ashamed for not being satisfied. But the truth is, the reasons for your dissatisfaction have a lot to do with the events that have happened in your life.

When you’re unable to get to the root of these experiences, you prevent yourself from ever getting the insight you need to realign with your values. At the very least you keep yourself from admitting that life could be better and turning a blind eye only serves to keep you living in the dark.

If You Take A Look At How Everything Is Connected

Although you might still believe your lingering unease isn’t cause for such a powerful therapy as EMDR, you have the potential to see how each aspect of your life (whether you think it’s significant or not) is related to your current experience.

By thinking of EMDR as a holistic approach to therapy you will see that the inner connection and self-compassion you’ve been missing are easily accessible when you dig deep enough. When you choose to look inside, you have the opportunity to set aside any misguided beliefs or blame you hold for not feeling as if your life is where you want it to be. Moreover, you have the opportunity to integrate your faulty ideas with your hopes for the future to rewrite your story and create something new that aligns with your values.

A Quick Look At How EMDR Helps

EMDR pulls from several different therapeutic theories including psychodynamic (talk therapy), humanistic, cognitive, interpersonal, family systems, and experiential. While most only think of the technical aspects, the approach is actually quite integrative. EMDR trained therapists then combine physical stimulation with these traditional techniques which can include eye movements, sounds, and touch.

When you undergo EMDR with a trained therapist you will establish a calm and comforting space and begin to discuss your past, current experiences, and what you would like the future to look like. After some time, you and your therapist will transition to talking about your triggering memory and then incorporate physical stimulation. This helps you tune in to sensory stimulation while remembering something scary or painful and you will process the memory more fully. You and your counselor will continue the process and re-evaluate often to ensure it is working and you feel supported.

While definitely a more technical therapy, here is the number one reason EMDR is a more holistic approach than you thought and how it can work to help you have a more satisfied life.

EMDR Provides A Mind Body Connection

When you feel out alignment with yourself, your whole world can feel upside down. During the EMDR process at Connecticut Integrative Counseling, you and I will work to identify the areas of your life that are out of alignment with your core values. You will spend time paying attention to the things in your life that don’t feel right or aren’t a part of your value system. You will also look deeply at behaviors or experiences that feel like a waste of time. Each of these will grant you insight into the parts of your life that are out of alignment. Once you’ve tuned into these areas, you and I will spend some time discussing how you would like them to be different. While this can be done via traditional talk therapy, the mind-body connection created with EMDR takes the process to a new level.

You may notice your brain saying one thing, but your heart/body telling you another. It might seem like your mind is signaling that you don’t want to feel guilty or ashamed, but your body is still experiencing the symptoms. EMDR helps to connect your mind and body by linking the thoughts, stories, messages you say to yourself, to your body sensations and tensions. Going through Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing helps them to get both your brain and your body on the same page.

At the end of the day, life is supposed to be joyful and happy – it isn’t supposed to be filled with negative emotions and negative stories playing in your head all the time. One of the easiest ways to foster longer-term happiness is to find ways to feel comfortable and aware in the present moment. However, when you spend your life being sad about past memories or worrying about what is coming up in the future, you are experiencing life anywhere but in the present. EMDR helps to reduce or eliminate these triggers by helping you stay much more focused on enjoying life’s moments.

Ultimately, living a more integrated life can help you feel more aligned with your values and more present with those you love. But to get to that place, you have to connect your mind and body and beat back the idea that being dissatisfied is the same as being ungrateful. Acknowledging that EMDR is a valid treatment for needs other than trauma – and deciding to try the therapy for yourself – can go a long way toward helping you feel more in tune with the life of your dreams.

If you have any questions regarding EMDR or if it may be a good fit for you, please contact me. I will gladly answer any questions you may have.

To learn more about my approach and counseling practice in West Hartford, CT please click here: Holistic, Integrative, Counseling and Therapy