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The Dangers of EMDR Therapy: Myths Debunked

EMDR, Laryssa Creswell

You’ve likely been to traditional talk therapy. While it helped, it didn’t completely solve your problem. Maybe you’re experiencing the after-effects of trauma, depression, and anxiety–and you can’t get relief.

Now, you’re navigating through the maze of therapy options. But there are so many therapies out there, that it’s difficult to know which methods to trust.

If you’ve found yourself drawn to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, yet hesitating due to the potential dangers of EMDR therapy, you’re not alone. Some people hold this opinion.

The reality, however, is that while EMDR can have some side effects, the perceived dangers are often shrouded in myths and misconceptions.


What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy focuses on alleviating the distress associated with traumatic memories. At its core, EMDR involves an 8 phase treatment process. In sessions, you are asked to recall distressing memories while an experienced, EMDR-trained therapist directs your eye movements (or guides you through another form of bilateral stimulation).

EMDR works because of its ability to help your brain reprocess traumatic memories, reducing their lingering impact. It’s commonly used for treating PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other stress-related disorders.

While exploring EMDR, you may have heard about the “dangers of EMDR therapy.” It’s important to understand that these often stem from misconceptions or reactions to the intense emotional processing EMDR involves. EMDR, in itself, is not dangerous. It’s a well-established and scientifically supported therapy designed to facilitate healing in a controlled and safe environment.


What Are the Side Effects of EMDR?

While there are no real dangers of EMDR therapy if practiced by a trained clinician, there are some potential side effects. Being aware of them can better prepare you for your EMDR journey.


Feeling Overwhelmed or Emotional

  • EMDR sessions often involve revisiting traumatic memories, which can evoke strong emotional responses.
  • Therapists are trained to guide you through these feelings, ensuring a safe and supportive environment.

Headaches or Fatigue

  • It’s not uncommon to experience headaches or feel unusually tired after an EMDR session.
  • These symptoms are typically a result of the intense mental effort and emotional processing involved.

Physical Reactions

  • You may notice physical reactions during therapy, such as shaking or sweating.
  • These are natural responses as your body processes and releases the stress associated with traumatic memories.

Having Trouble Sleeping

  • Changes in your sleep patterns, like difficulty falling or staying asleep, may occur after EMDR.
  • Generally, these issues are temporary and can be managed with coping strategies provided by your therapist.

New Memories or Feelings

  • The process of EMDR can sometimes uncover new memories or bring forth unexpected emotions.
  • Your therapist will help you work through these experiences and feelings, guiding you in your overall healing journey.

These side effects might not occur for you at all. If they do, they are part of the healing journey, though they can be challenging. EMDR therapy, when conducted by a trained professional, is both safe and effective. The side effects are not dangers but indications of the deep emotional work occurring within you.


Are There Any Real Dangers of EMDR Therapy?

Addressing the “dangers of EMDR therapy” means confronting several myths and misconceptions. It’s important to understand the realities of EMDR to make an informed decision about your healing journey.


Myth 1: It Will Make You Feel Worse

A common fear is that EMDR therapy might intensify emotional distress. While it’s true that revisiting traumatic memories can be challenging, EMDR facilitates healing; it does not exacerbate suffering.

Clinical evidence shows that EMDR leads to long-term improvement in most cases. The process aims to desensitize and reprocess painful memories, ultimately reducing their emotional impact or charge. As you move through the therapy, you’ll likely find that memories that once caused immense pain become less painful.


Myth 2: EMDR is Only for People with PTSD

Another widespread myth is that EMDR is exclusively for treating PTSD. Although it’s highly effective for PTSD, its benefits extend to various other mental health conditions and concerns, like anxiety, depression, and phobias. EMDR has been successfully used to treat issues stemming from traumatic life experiences–not just those with PTSD.


Myth 3: It Will Plant Memories That Aren’t True

The concern that EMDR therapy implants false memories is a major misconception. There’s no evidence supporting the idea that EMDR creates false memories when practiced by an experienced EMDR clinician. On the contrary, research indicates that EMDR helps in the authentic processing of real memories. A qualified EMDR therapist’s role is to guide you through your memories without suggesting new ones.

Hopefully, it’s clear that the perceived dangers of EMDR therapy often stem from misunderstandings. When administered by a trained and experienced therapist, EMDR is a safe and effective method for tackling various psychological issues.


EMDR is a Safe and Effective Treatment if Practiced by a Trained Clinician

So: the perceived “dangers of EMDR therapy” often stem from experiences with inadequately trained practitioners, highlighting the importance of seeking a qualified therapist.


Trained Clinicians

Opting for a therapist who is specifically trained in EMDR is crucial. These professionals have undergone rigorous training and adhere to standardized protocols, ensuring that your therapy is conducted safely and effectively.


Experience Matters

Experienced EMDR therapists are proficient at handling emotional and psychological reactions that may arise, providing you with support and guidance.


Adherence to EMDR Protocols

Properly trained clinicians follow established EMDR protocols. This is vital in managing any intense emotional responses safely and helping you navigate the healing process.


How Fearlessly Inspired Therapeutic Solutions (FITS) in Maryland and DC Can Help

If you’re considering EMDR therapy, it’s crucial to choose a reputable clinic, like FITS in Maryland and DC, to ensure you receive safe and effective treatment.

Here’s the kind of support you can expect at FITS:

  • Experienced Therapists: Our trained EMDR therapists are experienced in handling a wide range of mental health issues and concerns. When you work with us, you can rest assured that we create a safe space to support your healing journey.
  • Comprehensive Support: We provide a nurturing environment with tailored support, helping you navigate your emotional journey with care and understanding.

Choosing FITS for EMDR therapy means placing your trust in a therapy group committed to your mental well-being.


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