Feeling anxious is a common human experience. Whether it’s facing a job interview, taking an exam, or dealing with a medical test, anxiety can affect us all at some point in our lives. While occasional anxiety is normal, if it begins to interfere with your daily life, it’s time to consider professional help. Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent psychological conditions, and billions are spent annually in search of effective treatments. While Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has long been a trusted method for addressing anxiety, the mental health community is increasingly turning to Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) for its potential to provide faster relief.
The Spectrum of Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders encompass a wide range of conditions, all characterised by feelings of unease. Here are some common types:
General Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD extends beyond everyday worries, causing persistent anxiety about various triggers. Symptoms include restlessness, trouble sleeping, and physical sensations like heart palpitations.
Panic Disorder: Panic disorder involves sudden, intense fear attacks with no apparent cause, often accompanied by physical symptoms.
Phobias: Phobias are irrational fears of specific objects, places, or situations. They can range from common fears like spiders to more complex ones like social anxiety disorder.
EMDR for Treating Anxiety
EMDR has gained popularity as an effective treatment for anxiety, originally designed for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It involves a trained practitioner guiding the client through the desensitisation of traumatic memories, reformulating negative beliefs, and reducing physiological arousal associated with anxiety.
The EMDR Process
EMDR is a third-generation psychotherapy that actively engages the client’s adaptive information processing. During sessions, clients recall anxiety-provoking memories while experiencing rhythmic bilateral stimulation (BLS), often through eye movements. The therapist helps shift the client’s focus from negative thoughts to positive ones, gradually reducing the distress associated with the trigger.
Session Duration and Frequency
The duration and frequency of EMDR therapy can vary depending on individual needs. Sessions typically last 60-90 minutes, spanning 3-12 sessions. Most therapists opt for 90-minute sessions, but it’s essential to discuss specifics with your therapist.
Addressing Different Anxiety Types
EMDR therapists employ various techniques to address specific anxiety types:
- Phobias and Panic Disorder: Breathing and relaxation techniques are used to create a safer environment.
- Performance Anxiety: Positive cognition installation helps clients overcome performance-related fears.
Recalling Anxiety-Causing memories
The third stage of EMDR therapy focuses on the root cause of anxiety by activating targeted memories. In some cases, clients may not have specific traumatic memories to recall, and therapists proceed accordingly.
EMDR vs. Other Therapies
EMDR stands out in treating anxiety due to its internal process guided by empathy and its ability to rapidly reduce negative emotions and somatic complaints. It’s particularly helpful for individuals who prefer not to verbalise painful memories.
EMDR has shown promising results in clinical trials and academic research. Studies indicate that it can be more effective than trauma-focused CBT, requiring fewer sessions to treat anxiety. Advanced approaches, such as the wing wave method, validate EMDR’s potential to alleviate anxiety symptoms quickly.
EMDR therapy offers an effective and efficient approach to managing anxiety. With its ability to target the root causes of anxiety, it has become a promising treatment option for individuals seeking relief from various anxiety disorders. As research continues to validate its effectiveness, EMDR holds great promise in the field of mental health.
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety and seeking professional help, consider reaching out to Light Mind Counselling & Psychology. Our experienced therapists are here to support you on your journey to a calmer, more balanced life. Take the first step towards a brighter future by contacting us today.Book an appointment