Misunderstandings, misperceptions, and even myths surround ideas that are unfamiliar.

And to most people, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR is still a rather unfamiliar concept.

Likely, you’ve heard about a few of these myths surrounding this therapeutic method. As a Certified EMDR Therapist, I’m frequently asked about EMDR, and find reoccurring themes within the questions that arise.

Following are five of the most common myths that I find myself debunking.

Myth #1: EMDR Isn’t Backed by Research

Although it couldn’t be further from the truth, people often state that research doesn’t back up EMDR.

In fact, EMDR has a wider base of research supporting it than most therapeutic approaches. First studied back in 1989, professionals recognized it as a favored treatment for trauma.

In 2013, the World Health Organization endorsed EMDR for post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Nine years before, the American Psychiatric Association recommended EMDR as an effective treatment in trauma cases. The Veterans Administration has also recommended this method.

None of those recommendations would have happened without EMDR being backed by sound evidence.

Myth #2: EMDR Is Just a New Trend

Way more than a trend, EMDR is nearing its 30th anniversary. Dr. Francine Shapiro conceived the idea for EMDR back in 1987. As it goes, she was out for a stroll and noticed that when she returned from her walk, she had resolved some upsetting thoughts. In retracing her steps, she found that her eyes moved from side to side with her steps. Much to her surprise, the eye movement helped her feel less distressed about the thoughts.

A couple years later, researchers launched their first studies on her idea. From there, it’s become recommended by many professionals and organizations as the leading treatment for trauma and PTSD.

Rather than a trend, it’s successful therapy with proven results. And it shows no sign of fading anytime soon.

Myth #3: EMDR Only Takes a Few Sessions

For some, EMDR is well-known as the “short” version of therapy.  Mostly, these people are used to talk therapy. As you may know, talk therapy can extend for long periods of time before the patient makes progress.

A common misperception is that EMDR accomplishes its task in under five sessions.

While this certainly is a reasonable amount of time for some people to find relief, each person is different. Often, the traumatic history itself dictates the length of EMDR therapy. In short, there is no guarantee that EMDR therapy will be successful in under five sessions.

Myth #4: EMDR Is the Easy Way Out

For starters, therapy is not the easy way out. No matter which therapeutic approach you choose, you’re ultimately deciding that your mental health is a priority. That alone is not typically an easy decision.

Furthermore, some people mistake EMDR for a type of magic trick. The therapist waves their fingers in front of your face and “poof” your trauma is gone. It does not work that way. EMDR is a legitimate therapy.

EMDR isn’t about giving you the easy way out, and it’s not at all about magic. It’s about working with your brain. Rather than waving away trauma, EMDR moves the storage of traumatic memories to a part of your brain that is more functional.

Not only does this help you to fully process the traumatic event, but it empowers you to remain calm when thinking about it.

Myth #5: EMDR Is a “One-Stop Shop”

As I mentioned before, EMDR is more than a therapist waving their fingers in front of your eyes. In fact, there are eight phases when it comes to EMDR.

As with any therapeutic approach, EMDR helps you to move through the trauma. It doesn’t disappear. Waving a finger at trauma is as reliable as waving your finger at a serpent. It’s useless. And EMDR is not a “one-stop shop.”

It’s comprehensive and effective help for lessening emotional pain.

Each of the eight distinguishable phases in EMDR helps to prepare you for the next. The goal is to move you closer to recovery while still ensuring that you feel protected. Like most therapeutic methods, it’s a process.

Take the first step…

If you’re ready to consider EMDR therapy for yourself, I would like to help. I have been a Certified EMDR Therapist since 2004, and I have helped hundreds of clients benefit from this incredibly useful methodology. Please get in touch with me via voicemail or email so we can discuss how we might work together to change your life for the better as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT

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