About one in five people suffer a mental illness in the United States. And 18 percent of adults in the United States are affected by an anxiety disorder like post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and many others, according to NAMI.
While PTSD affects numerous veterans, they are not the only ones with this mental disorder. PTSD also affects children and those who have experienced sexual assault, abuse, accidents and many other traumatic events. With the growing number of Americans, recognizing the obstacle of a mental disorder, there are also numerous therapy options.
An Effective Treatment
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is one of the most renowned and effective treatment for those who experience PTSD.
Dani Singer, founder of Therapy Threads, licensed marriage and family therapist, and sexual assault survivor, specializes in EMDR treatment. “EMDR uses bilateral stimulation to help integrate both sides of your brain, taps into our amygdala (where trauma can be stored), unlocks those memories and helps you to reprocess and desensitize them so it is no longer disturbing to you,” explained Singer.
While the process makes the memory feel more neutral, it doesn’t erase it. According to Singer, “It helps you grieve and process through the memories and come to a place of peace and neutrality. As difficult as that is to believe, you can get there. It's possible.”
EMDR can be a quicker and more effective therapy than other conventional talk therapies. For some people who do not want to take a convention approach, and find that talking is not really an option for them, this treatment might be the answer. It is difficult enough to have experienced these events, it is even harder to talk about it.
As for Singer, “I am a big advocate of it because not only do I use it with my patients, but I am also a EMDR patient, and have used it, and continue to use it as my primary treatment with my therapist.”
“I vividly recall my first positive experience with EMDR when I was in my early 20s,” Singer recalled. “I was suffering from horrifying, violent or gory nightmares nearly every single night ever since I can remember. I had 2-3 sessions of EMDR and they were gone. I was amazed and became a believer immediately of how rapid the changes occurred for something I had struggled with for so long. It's still so incredible to me, and ever since then I've continued to reap the benefits of EMDR treatment.”
The coolest thing about EMDR is not only does it help us re-process and desensitize our memories, but also our negative beliefs about ourselves and the event. Singer elaborated, “Logically we can know better. Logically I knew I was a Good person, It wasn't my fault, I wasn't permanently damaged. But, EMOTIONALLY it felt that way. Emotionally all of the negative beliefs were 100 percent true, and I was bought in. I believed them fully. I internalized my trauma AGAIN (since it wasn't my first trauma), and those negative beliefs that were already there got cemented in even further in my brain.”
Through EMDR, people can begin to clear those negative cognitions and replace them with healthier, more adaptive beliefs about themselves, that they started to actually believe. Singer added, “I still have much to work on, and I'm still working towards healing with my therapist. Therapy is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life and overall healing journey. Yoga has also really helped me release my body memories.”
EMDR is not the only type of therapy out there. There are over 100 types of therapies, and many more therapists. Not every type of treatment or therapist is going to be a good fit for everyone.
Singer concluded, “If you're considering going to therapy, I'd encourage you to do your research, and schedule appointments with several therapists so you can find someone you fit and vibe with. Your relationship and comfortability with your therapist is what will make your treatment successful vs unsuccessful.”
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