What Clients Say in Describing EMDR
What Clients Say in Describing EMDR to Others
The following list is not complete but rather a sampling of life changes reported by people who have successfully completed EMDR therapy. Everyone can have different experiences but the things on this list have been noted by more than a few clients so these have been included as some of the more common outcomes after successful treatment.
Please realize this is not a list of guarantees and not all of these things will happen to everyone. Also, sometimes the very nature of a life change itself can include stress even when it is a positive change. So it is recommended to consider this list of client reports and share it with a partner or family member or someone close to you to realize what kinds of things you may witness in your healing journey.
1) “If the focus on your EMDR Therapy was quitting an addictive behavior, it could definitely stop your desire to use.”
“I think we can all relate to that feeling where you’ve had a huge, massive, monster-sized dinner and then you’re offered dessert. Sure pie and ice cream sort of, kind of, still sound good, but you’re totally stuffed, and if you have it you’re really going to feel bad. In this situation it’s pretty easy to say no, and when you do EMDR Therapy focusing on your addiction, it feels basically the same way. Sure, there’s still a bit of a pull towards drinking and drugs, but it just feels like you’ve had “enough” and it’s easy to turn away and say no.”
These days, EMDR Therapy has become a go-to, first-line treatment for addictions. California clinical psychologist Dr. Stephen Dansiger, in an interview with addiction focused website The Fix said that, "EMDR Therapy can play a central role in addiction treatment."
2) “You’ll feel different about the things you once feared.”
Once you use EMDR sessions to get over something you are in dreadful fear of, life will seem different somehow. You will begin to see that many of the things you fear aren’t really all that scary. Yes, planes do crash, but almost never (like one-in-a-million). And yes spiders bite, but they are tiny and you can squash them with your boot if you need to.
EMDR puts things in a whole new perspective and you become more aware of what’s a real threat to you, what’s just nonsense in your head, and what’s easy for you to step up and conquer.
3) “The problem that got you into EMDR Therapy will shrink.”
You’ll still recognize it as present, but it will seem smaller, quieter, and more insignificant. The perfect analogy here is that someone took the volume knob and turned down your problem issue. You can still hear if you choose to pay attention, but it’s no longer bothersome or annoying, and therefore its not real a problem anymore.
4) “You will remember the place you grew up in much more vivid detail.”
Ask almost anyone who has done EMDR sessions about this and they’ll agree right away. EMDR gently impacts the neurons in your brain and this then brings old memories to the fore- front of your thinking.
Because of this, people tend to come back to memories of the place(s) they grew up. Imagine if your childhood home was a maze inside your mind and thanks to the EMDR, you can walk through it, room-by-room, and remember all the little details.
5) “You may have some intense and vivid dreams.”
Go ahead and Google this one because it’s really common. EMDR Therapy jars loose something memories in your mind that cause you to have intense and vivid dreams as a side effect.
6) “You may remember in detail people from your past.”
Just as EMDR Therapy makes you remember places and things from the past, it also brings forth memories of people long forgotten. You may recall, and sometimes in vivid detail, playing with childhood friends, your elementary school teachers, or spending quality time with your grandparents. Anything is possible when the EMDR Therapy helps your brain to do some heavy lifting.
7) “Your body may “vibrate” post-session.”
EMDR repeatedly stimulates the hemispheres (left and right sides) of your brain so it’s only natural that afterwards you’ll maybe feel a bit funny.
Some people report this as feeling like sort of a vibration in their chest and abdomen, while others say that it feel more like having a couple glasses of wine. Some people even say that it reminds them of that feeling when they get up in the middle of the night to pee; they’re awake but a little bit disoriented. It will go away in a few moments typically after the session.
8) “You’ll likely see some things differently.”
Speaking personally, I have been angry at my brother for nearly as long as I can remember. But something happened after an especially tough EMDR session. For the first time I could see how hard his life was and how difficult his struggles. Right after my session I ended up calling him up and apologizing for some of the nasty things I had said and done to him over the years. We’ve never been closer and the pain I felt about the relationship is gone.
9) “You could end up traveling to places you only dreamed of.”
One of the reasons I personally got into EMDR Therapy was because I had a crippling fear of flying. If I even thought about being up in a plane, my heart would pound and my palms would get wet. I did six sessions over the course of a couple of weeks and then I took my first flight in more than a decade and.......nothing. It was a piece of cake and I wasn’t scared at all. The EMDR therapy had removed those fearful feelings and thoughts from my mind. I was nothing short of stunned with how effectively it worked for me. In the three years since, I have traveled to more than 30 countries, and thanks to the EMDR Therapy, I have actually learned to enjoy air travel.
10) “You may remember random, but specific things.”
EMDR seems to bring up totally random memories that have nothing to do with the reason you are seeking therapy. These are all things that have been stored in your brain, but that you haven’t really had any need to recall. It might be your Mom’s meatloaf when you were a kid. Or maybe your first bike. Or even being away from home and away at Summer Camp. Somehow the EMDR helps your brain to remember it all clearly.
11) “You’ll come to recognize the brains’ natural ability to heal itself.”
To be clear, EMDR is not just looking at some object moving back and forth or listening to some tones in your ears. That being said, it’s amazing how much of the “heavy lifting” is being done by your brain during the sessions, as if the human brain was designed to change and heal itself.
12) “You’ll likely get emotional at least a few times during the session.”
Part of having EMDR Therapy is coming to terms with a lot of not-so-nice stuff that has been festering in your brain and consciousness. EMDR Therapy sessions brings all that stuff bubbling to the surface so your brain can process it in a healthy way.
After your sessions unfortunately, you may find yourself shedding a few tears. Or maybe feeling super hollow. Or for some people, fuming white-hot angry. Don’t worry, it will go away. You’re just healing.
13) “Even though you get better, you’ll still have some real life problems to deal with.”
EMDR Therapy won’t fix everything unfortunately. Even if you use it to get sober, or move to on from your grief, or to treat your depression, there will be a real life waiting for you afterwards. And that life will have bills, car repairs, family arguments, sleepless nights, money problems, and who knows what else. The good part is that these are just normal problems that all people have to work through.
14) “You will feel thankful and grateful as you get better.”
When you have a big problem, it seems to creep its way into your life each and every day. Using EMDR to take care of that problem will bring a real sense of relief. Once you work through the therapy sessions, you’ll beat yourself up less, you’ll feel emotionally stronger, and you will feel a sense of relief because life is lighter and has at least one fewer burden.
15) “Your emotions could cut loose like a flood, which may be unexpected.”
EMDR Therapy helps you to confront a lot of unpleasant stuff circulating in your mind. You will find yourself getting emotional over things that you thought really didn’t bother you.
You might cry or get pretty angry over some things that happened in your past, and this can feel a bit upsetting. It’s alright. Give it time. You’ll get better and it will pass.
16) “You’ll start beating the EMDR drum and start telling other people how great it is and how much it did for you.”
Go ahead and look around on the internet. On websites, in articles, in social media groups, and on chat forums, you will see people talking about their positive experience with EMDR Therapy. Its life changing stuff, and after you do it you’ll want to tell the people you know.
17) “The thing that you fear, or are phobic about, will just be a thing now.”
Maybe there was a time where even the thought of an airplane would get your heart pumping. Or maybe imagining a particular person or animal you are afraid of would fill you with an instant sense of terror. EMDR Therapy sessions process these thoughts and put them into their proper place. It’s just a snake, or a plane, or a spider, or a boss you don’t particularly like. No more overwhelm. "You will begin to see that many of the things you fear aren’t actually really all that scary. Yes, planes do crash, but almost never (like one-in-a-million). And yes spiders bite, but they are tiny and you can squash them with your boot."
18) “You will stop having bothersome thoughts and flashbacks about a traumatic event.”
One of the classic hallmarks of trauma and PTSD is that memories of the traumatic event just won’t seem to go away. And time doesn’t really change anything. People with trauma might find themselves reliving their child abuse, going back over-and-over
to the scene of a crime where they were the victim, remembering hurtful, painful, or insulting words from an abuser, or in the case of military veterans being bothered repeatedly by memories of being in combat, no matter how many years have passed.
It’s really one of the best parts about EMDR Therapy. Those old memories that just won’t seem to leave you alone will fade and mostly disappear. Sure you can still remember them if you think about it, but the good thing is that they won’t bother you. Instead, they’ll just be regular old memories.
19) “When you encounter a memory of something traumatic from your past, it will just be a thought like any other thought and it won’t really bother you at all.”
Just because you use EMDR Therapy to work through traumatic issues doesn’t mean you’ll forget the problems entirely. The memories will still be there, and in many cases they will still be bad memories. Nothing can change that. The amazing thing about doing EMDR Therapy is that the memories will be just that....memories. They won’t bother you and they won’t sneak up on you the way they used to.
20) “You will feel healthier.”
Maybe not at first, but definitely after you work through some EMDR Therapy sessions. Having all that negative, painful, and overwhelming crap floating around in your head is a daily burden. As the EMDR Therapy takes it away, you’ll feel lighter, healthier, and more optimistic.
21) “Your mind will feel energized, even if at first your mind feels a bit pulverized.”
A lot of people talk about having a post-EMDR session that feels a bit like a vibration in your head. It goes away in a few minutes, and just after you may feel a bit amped up from all the in session brain stimulation.
22) “You will be less obsessed.”
Part of having serious and overwhelming life problems (like addiction, fear and anxiety, or trauma and PTSD symptoms) is that you unfortunately think about them all the time. This makes perfect sense given how destructive these kinds of issues can be. The EMDR Therapy sessions will either make the problems go away completely, or they make it so the problem is hardly there anymore. Either way, you’ll think about your problems a whole lot less- which is a relief! "Having all that negative, painful, and overwhelming crap floating around in your head is a daily burden. As the EMDR Therapy takes it away, you’ll feel lighter and healthier."
23) “You might have a bad dream or two.”
This is kind of ugly, but it’s also reality. EMDR Therapy jars your memories, and that often transfers over to your dreams. As part of the process, you may have an occasional scary dream, and often those dreams can be about the bad things that happened in the past. But don’t worry, it’s totally temporary. It’s just your mind’s way of moving you forward and helping you get better.
24) “Your relationships with the people around you will change.”
This one is sort of a side-effect of your new-found sense of wellness. As the EMDR cleans up the problem you are focusing on, you will have more energy and emotional reserve to deal with the people around you. You will have more confidence is dealing with others and stating your opinion, even with tough to handle with people like your boss. Energy that used to be directed towards the problem issue is now readily available for pursuing and improving relationships and interactions with everyone else.
25) “Things in life that used to baffle you, you’ll deal with like a boss.”
For some people, having EMDR Therapy, and experiencing the big life changes that often come with it can bring a serious shift in perspective. It takes guts to take on your personal issues, and when you step up to the plate and do it, you’ll be a different person on the other side.As a consequence, things or people that used to intimidate you start to feel smaller, less significant, and super easy to overcome.
26) “You’ll come to terms with the places you are broken inside.”
Life hurts. There’s really no way around it. And if your life was perfect in the first place, you wouldn’t be interested in trying EMDR Therapy. EMDR will bring up some ugly stuff in your head, but it will also help you come to terms with the fact that you’re imperfect like every other person, and that’s all part of the process of getting better.
27) “You’ll unfortunately have to face some things that it might be better if they stayed hidden and buried inside of you.”
When I was nine years-old, my parents got into a vicious fight. As I lie in my bed, I could hear glass breaking and screaming coming from downstairs. As a way to cope, my brain decided to hide these thoughts somewhere deep in my brain. The EMDR sessions unfortunately brought them out. Was it painful to remember all these things? Yes, sometimes. Was it worth it though? Absolutely, because I have a better understanding of my past and how it made me the person I am 30 years later.
28) “You’ll lose weight.”
If you are a person who uses EMDR specifically to treat compulsive overeating, you’ll start to shed the pounds. Do a session instead every time you want to “binge” and feed your emotions with your most triggering foods, and you’ll find that over time the idea of gorging yourself starts to lose its luster. Simply put, it becomes easier to avoid the kitchen (or the drive thru line) all together.
29) “You’ll fall in love with the outdoors.”
So this one is tailored pretty specifically to the people who use EMDR sessions to get over their agoraphobia (that is fear of open or public places). It may sound pretty scary now, but once the fear is gone a whole new world opens up. And if you’re an agoraphobic you’ll find in time that you absolutely love the pleasure of being outside, going for a walk, being in nature, and breathing it all in."Imagine if your childhood home was a maze inside your mind and now you can walk through it, room by room, and remember all the little things that were there."
30) “You’ll have better boundaries.”
Generally people who are struggling with mental health or addiction issues don’t tend to have the healthiest social boundaries. As the EMDR sessions make you feel better, you’ll be less interested in getting involved in everyone else’s business, and you’ll learn to keep your broom sweeping on your own side of the street instead.
31) “You might lose some old friends (and make some new ones).”
This example is more directed at people who use EMDR Therapy, like the EMDR for Addiction program, to end their addictive behavior. Part of being an addict is that your friends tend to more accurately be just people that you drink, drug, or use with. When you do the EMDR Therapy session work, get healthy and move on from your addiction, you become less interested in hanging out with these sorts of people and more interested in hanging out with people that you can develop quality, healthy friendships with.
32) “You will come to terms with some bad stuff from your childhood.”
Childhood trauma is simply the worst. No matter how many years go by you find yourself mentally reliving the bad stuff over and over again. Maybe its physical or sexual abuse. Or maybe it was being severely bullied, abandoned, or ignored by your own family.
EMDR sessions can take traumatic, unwanted, repetitive memories, and make them just plain old memories. And this gives you the power to forget the bad stuff from the past and be happier in the now.
33) “You will be able to leave the past where it belongs, in the past.”
Trauma is defined as, “a very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems usually for a long time.” And you could add to this that part of trauma (and PTSD) is that the thoughts and memories come bubbling up again and again whether you want them to or not. EMDR therapy takes traumatic, repetitive, unwanted, and intrusive memories, and turns them into plain old everyday kinds of memories. In time, you’ll rarely think about any of it.
CONCLUSION: That's quite a list isn't it? Imagine what EMDR can do for you!