Toby Barron Therapy

Toby Barron Therapy

EMDR Side Effects: the Science, the Truth, the Myths

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EMDR therapy works with the whole person, not just the clinical symptoms. It is based on an understanding of the way our brains process information when trying to cope with difficult or traumatic experiences. This method focuses on processing our mental and emotional responses to these events. This helps us to access and process thoughts, images, emotions, and bodily sensations that have become locked into our bodies.

EMDR is a therapy that helps process information in a more balanced and adaptive way. It works with each individual at their own pace and addresses both the symptoms and underlying causes. And most importantly, EMDR is effective!

However, some wonder if this form of therapy comes with its own side effects. Furthermore, since this is a relatively new therapy used to treat anxiety, trauma, and posttraumatic stress disorder, there are voices who speak out against it. Opponents often present various myths and misconceptions about this practice. This article will help you to separate fact from fiction when it comes to EMDR therapy.

What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing?

EMDR is a psychotherapy used to treat emotional trauma, anxiety, stress, panic disorders, and more. It has been used with soldiers and victims of domestic violence and natural disasters, as well as survivors of emotional abuse and various other traumas. It is used to treat PTSD and other anxiety disorders, including panic attacks and personality disorders. This intervention allows individuals to find a healthy way to deal with their emotional distress and integrate a positive belief into their negative memory.

Disturbing memories have a way of getting stuck in the brain. Through a series of specific, controlled rapid bilateral eye movements while remembering the memory, you can process and release any negative emotions and painful memories associated with the event. Studies have shown that EMDR works for many people who have experienced trauma and are struggling to control their heightened emotions and pain.

The idea behind the therapy may be simple, but the process is complex. The therapist guides you through the process, and all you have to do is follow their instructions. EMDR therapy is done in a series of therapy sessions, each lasting about an hour. You will be asked to remember the traumatic event while following the therapist’s directions. The therapist will use a series of hand movements or tones to get your brain to focus on the unprocessed memory.

The mental health provider will then help you process and release the negative beliefs and emotions associated with the memory to help you overcome the effects of trauma. EMDR therapy is a process that takes time, and a treatment plan is always necessary. Don’t expect the resolution to be immediate, but the effects will last longer. In most cases, you will have sessions once a week during which you will be asked to remember the traumatic event while following the therapist’s directions.

EMDR therapy

Benefits of EMDR

Studies and clinical trials have shown that the benefits of EMDR therapy outweigh the risks.

Standard benefits:

Emotional benefits:

Cognitive benefits:

  • EMDR can help improve your memory and recall of traumatic events.
  • EMDR can help you to see the event in a new, more positive light.
  • EMDR can help you to understand and process the emotions associated with the event.

Physical benefits:

  • EMDR can help to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of PTSD, including flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety.
  • EMDR can help to improve your sleep quality and reduce fatigue.
  • EMDR can help to reduce stress and tension in the body.

Spiritual benefits:

  • EMDR can help you to connect with your spiritual beliefs and values.
  • EMDR can help you to find meaning and purpose in your life.

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Side effects of EMDR

So, is it safe to use EDMR? Is there anything to worry about? What are the potential side effects of this kind of treatment? Firstly, you need to be aware that there is no way of knowing for sure if a mental health treatment will work until it has been tried.

Secondly, the treatment is not suitable for everyone struggling with traumatic memories. Some people are more likely to have side effects than others. Finally, the treatment does not work for everyone. However, if EDMR doesn’t work for you, you are unlikely to experience any adverse effects. And other related types of treatment may be more suitable.

Short-term EMDR side effects

When people begin EMDR therapy, they may experience short-term side effects, such as feeling dizzy or lightheaded. These physical symptoms are usually mild and disappear quickly. Other potential short-term side effects include:

• headaches

• increased anxiety

• sleep problems

• fatigue

The short-term side effects are temporary and should dissipate as the person continues with therapy. It’s important to discuss any concerns with a therapist before beginning EMDR so that they can be taken into account during treatment.


Long-term EMDR side effects

It’s been nearly 30 years since EMDR was first developed, and in that time, there have been several studies investigating its long-term effects. The vast majority of these studies have found that EMDR is safe and effective for treating various mental health conditions.

However, there are a small number of case reports and surveys that suggest EMDR may have some long-term side effects. These include:

Increased anxiety and distress

In a small number of cases, people report feeling more anxious and distressed after EMDR treatment. This is generally a temporary effect that is most prominent at the beginning of treatment.

Intrusive memories

Some people report having intrusive memories, vivid dreams, or flashbacks of their trauma after EMDR treatment. These can be distressing, but they tend to lessen over time as more and more trauma gets resolved.

A return to the original symptoms of PTSD

In some cases, people who initially improved with EMDR treatment may have moments of return to their original levels of anxiety and distress. This may be due to the trauma memory being freshly triggered or a need to integrate medication into the treatment plan. Triggering moments should be discussed with your therapist so they can be addressed.

Pins and needles, electric shock sensations

Some people report feeling pins and needles or electric-shock sensations in their body. These body sensations usually last for less than a minute. The physical sensation is a normal part of the somatic work and, as long as medical causes are ruled out, can be addressed in therapy.

Myths and misconceptions about EMDR

EMDR is a therapy that has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions and has helped many people process and break free from their traumatic memories and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Despite its proven effectiveness, there are still many myths and misconceptions about EMDR. Here are a few of the most common ones:

1. EMDR is only for people with PTSD.

This is one of the most common myths about EMDR. In reality, EMDR can be used to treat a wide variety of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, phobias, and more. Some people believe that EMDR can only be used to treat short-term problems, but this is not the case. EMDR can be used to effectively treat long-term problems as well.

2. EMDR is only for people who have experienced trauma.

Another common myth about EMDR is that it can only be used to treat people who have experienced trauma. While it is true that EMDR can be an effective therapy for PTSD, it can also be used to treat other mental health disorders that don’t necessarily involve trauma.

3. EMDR is dangerous/unethical.

EMDR is not dangerous or unethical. In fact, it’s one of the safest and most ethical forms of treatment available today and can be used to treat a wide range of mental health problems rooted in distressing memories and adverse life experiences.

4. EMDR is a quick fix

Another common misconception about EMDR is that it is a “quick fix” for mental health problems. While EMDR can help reduce negative symptoms quickly, it is not a “quick fix” and should not be considered as such. EMDR is an effective psychological treatment that requires active participation from both the EMDR-trained therapist and the client, and it may take several sessions before seeing any significant results.

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5. EMDR doesn’t work.

EMDR can be an effective treatment for those who experiencepsychological trauma and PTSD. However, it is not always the best treatment for this disorder. For example, providing medication, cognitive processing therapy, or psychotherapy may be a better option for some people with PTSD who are not ready for or interested in EMDR.

6. EMDR is not a real treatment.

EMDR has been studied and used for over a decade in the United States. It’s now recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense as an evidence-based treatment for PTSD, and it’s also approved by Medicare for this purpose.

7. EMDR is a form of hypnosis.

There are some similarities between EMDR and hypnosis, but there are also many differences. For example, during EMDR, the patient is awake and alert. EMDR therapy does not involve specific suggestions or deep relaxation.

8. EMDR is a threat.

The EMDR treatment is administered by a trained and skilled therapist or health care professional who will do nothing to harm you. It’s just not possible for the person doing the therapy to cause any physical or emotional harm to a patient during treatment.

According to science, studies, and clinical trials, EMDR is a powerful tool that can help people overcome negative experiences and heal from trauma. It is not a “made-up” treatment nor a tool mental health professionals use to control people. However, despite its effectiveness, there are still many myths and misconceptions about EMDR. That is why it is important to educate yourself about EMDR and its potential side effects before deciding whether to try it.