A Guide to EMDR Therapy: Helping Your Loved One Heal from Trauma

April 03, 2024
Two people helping to heal trauma through close relationship

How to help a loved one who is Experiencing Trauma

Recently someone told you that your family member or friend is undergoing EMDR Therapy. This can be surprising and confusing at first. Know that you are a trusted person in your friends life and they felt safe sharing with you. I’ve created this guide to EMDR Therapy to help address questions you may have as well as ways you can help your loved one heal from trauma.

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR Therapy; Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy is an 8 phase therapy intervention that helps reduce symptoms of PTSD. The first two sessions are information sessions and resourcing which will help you create a timeline of the trauma. Phase two will also teach coping skills that can help ease your nervous system. These two phases can last anywhere from two months to six months. Not everyone needs to utilize skills from all 8 phases, For some people the first two phases of EMDR is enough to resolve symptoms.

Phases 3-8 involves reprocessing the traumatic memories. First the target is identified. Targets are a memory of the trauma, an image, a feeling or sensation. Your therapist will help you to identify the targets as well as what order to reprocess them. For a more in depth overview of the 8 phases click here.

Why EMDR to Heal Trauma?

There are many reasons someone requests EMDR therapy.

  1. Healing from past traumatic experiences, such as abuse or accidents.
  2. Managing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  3. Addressing anxiety or panic disorders related to specific traumatic events.
  4. Overcoming phobias or fears rooted in past experiences.
  5. Enhancing performance or coping skills in various aspects of life, such as sports, academics, or professional endeavors.

How can I support Them During EMDR Therapy?

When your loved one starts EMDR Therapy they may be sharing things with their therapist from their past. One way to support them is to provide them space to share with you. You can also be a space to just spend time together and get relief from the stress of talking about trauma. You can ask them the following questions to help understand their needs:

What do you need to feel supported through this?

How can I help you to relieve your stress?

What needs to change about our current schedule to make room/time for you to reprocess?

What are some things I can avoid saying or doing while you are reprocessing?

“I Don’t Want Them to Feel This Way, I Wish There Was More I Can do.”

This is something I hear from loved ones of individuals suffering from mental illness often. You love and care so deeply for them and want them to get better.You may struggle to relate when things are good with the one you love. You feel helpless and wish you could erase the pain or take it from them. It is important to remember,

You are Doing so Much More Than you Realize.

Being a trusted family member or friend is a beautiful gift. It means you are someone that they trust and feel safe with. By continuing to be safe, and non-judgemental and taking the time to read and understand you are already giving your loved one the benefits of community, connection, safety, and trust, which helps the reprocessing and builds resilience.

Trauma is Not a Choice.

Many of us have been exposed to trauma, whether through the news, hearing about events in our community, or direct experiences. When we encounter trauma, our brains often reprocess the information and store it in a way that doesn’t impact our daily lives. You may personally have an experienced that reflects this.

If we have been exposed to repeated traumas or if the trauma was highly disregulating, the brain struggles to reprocess and we get stuck in “fight or flight” mode. When the trauma gets stuck there is little we can do on our own or our loved ones can do to help us process. EMDR is a therapy that acts as a tool that helps the trauma get “unstuck” so your loved one can live a life unaffected by their trauma.

Supporting a loved one through trauma healing with EMDR can be a profound journey of understanding and resilience. By providing guidance and encouragement, you can play a crucial role in their healing process, fostering hope and renewal along the way. Together, you can navigate the path towards healing and restoration, paving the way for a brighter and more fulfilling future.
If you would like to learn more about our services reach out for a consultation.

 

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A Guide to EMDR Therapy: Helping Your Loved One Heal from Trauma

How to help a loved one who is Experiencing Trauma Recently someone told you that your family member or friend is undergoing EMDR Therapy. This can be surprising and confusing at first. Know that you are a trusted person in your friends life and they felt safe sharing with you. I’ve created this guide to […]
EMDR therapy session with male and female sitting across from one another.

Preparing for EMDR: Essential Insights and Readiness Tips

If you are wondering what to expect from EMDR, you’re not alone. Many of my clients express worry or fear about the process. I’ve compiled the most helpful suggestions for preparing for a EMDR cycle. EMDR Therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an 8 phase therapy intervention that helps reduce symptoms of trauma. The […]

Preparing for EMDR: Essential Insights and Readiness Tips

April 03, 2024
EMDR therapy session with male and female sitting across from one another.

If you are wondering what to expect from EMDR, you’re not alone. Many of my clients express worry or fear about the process. I’ve compiled the most helpful suggestions for preparing for a EMDR cycle.

EMDR Therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an 8 phase therapy intervention that helps reduce symptoms of trauma. The first few sessions are information sessions and resourcing. In this phase you create a timeline of the trauma, as well as learn regulating coping skills that can help ease your nervous system. These two phases can last anywhere from two months to six months, and for some people the first two phases of EMDR is enough to resolve the symptoms or distress and future sessions are not needed.

Phases 3-8 involve reprocessing your traumatic memories. Your target is identified; Target could be your memory of the trauma, an image, a feeling or sensation. Your therapist will help you to identify the targets as well as what order to reprocess them. For a more in depth overview of the 8 phases click here.

What are some tips I can use before session?

Self Care is Crucial

Before your EMDR session drink plenty of water, avoid substances that are mind altering, and get a good nights rest. If you can take the day off during reprocessing we recommend you take the rest of the day to journal, sleep, or follow your self care plan.

Talk to a Loved One

Before you start EMDR let someone know that you will be starting this trauma treatment. This is for your support outside of sessions. Make sure this is a person you trust and feel safe with. If there is no one you feel comfortable sharing this with discuss alternatives with your therapist.

Create a Pattern of Coping Skills

Your therapist will teach you all kinds of exercises, and tips for self care and nervous system regulation before you begin reprocessing (phase 3-7). We recommend having a strong sense of these exercises and have a consistent routine of incorporating them into your daily life. Your therapist will discuss this with you and help you find the time to create a routine that works for you.

What are some tips during my EMDR sessions?

Don’t Over do it

In an EMDR session you will be able to identify trauma from across the life span. Sometimes the urge to reprocess the worst of the trauma is hard to ignore, but we often recommend starting with something that is less distressing so you can orient to the sessions, and know what to expect. Reprocessing too much to quickly can lead to frustration, disregulation, and the urge to quit EMDR. Your therapist collaborates with you to identify your targets and set up a system to help you reprocess things in a way that helps you regulate.

Bring Comfort Items

If you have a favorite sweater or a blanket, or even a stuffed animal that you sleep with at night, bring it with you. If can help you to regulate during and after session. We recommend bringing a water bottle, and a snack, and we also have snacks, drinks, and sensory items you can use in our office.

Let us Know if you Need to Pause

Sometimes in session reprocessing can get overwhelming and you may feel the need to pause or stop session. Trust your intuition and let your therapist know that you need to pause . Your therapist will know how to support you and help you through any discomfort.

What are some tips for after session?

Be Mindful of your Time

Take the day off work and other responsibilities after a reprocessing session. We recommend scheduling EMDR sessions when you do not have major plans for the next few weeks. After session you may feel tired, or disoriented and there may be a lot of new thoughts or memories that come up. For some clients this lasts for 12-48 hours and for others the effects may last until the next session. These symptoms are not permanent and will alleviate after targets are cleared.

Your therapist will show you many resources and recommend you use the skills before and after reprocessing. After sessions it is helpful to use these skills to help you feel grounded and to process any memories and thoughts that come up. You may notice an increase in nightmares, or vivid dreams, symptoms of dissociation, irritability, sadness, or memories arise. All of this is normal; but not guaranteed. The coping skills you have done before and after are designed to help you process in between sessions.

Connect to Loved Ones

Let a family member or friend know that you are in EMDR, we also suggest sharing and connecting with safe friends and family. They may have questions or feel concerned if you are struggling so sharing with them on your journey can help them understand and for you to get the support you need.

To learn more about other treatment options we provide click here. You can schedule a consultation to learn more or make an appointment.

Blogs

Learn how you can take steps toward healing with our latest blogs

Two people helping to heal trauma through close relationship

A Guide to EMDR Therapy: Helping Your Loved One Heal from Trauma

How to help a loved one who is Experiencing Trauma Recently someone told you that your family member or friend is undergoing EMDR Therapy. This can be surprising and confusing at first. Know that you are a trusted person in your friends life and they felt safe sharing with you. I’ve created this guide to […]
EMDR therapy session with male and female sitting across from one another.

Preparing for EMDR: Essential Insights and Readiness Tips

If you are wondering what to expect from EMDR, you’re not alone. Many of my clients express worry or fear about the process. I’ve compiled the most helpful suggestions for preparing for a EMDR cycle. EMDR Therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an 8 phase therapy intervention that helps reduce symptoms of trauma. The […]

Who am I Without my Mental Illness?

March 06, 2024
black and white photo of female presenting person sitting on couch looking away from camera.
Written by Monica Camacho, Student Intern 

Recovering from mental illness is such a scary journey. Even if you know that at the end of the tunnel there is healing and a chance to live a happier life, the unknowns of how you will work on that recovery can be terrifying and make the journey much more daunting.

Anyone who has battled mental illness for a while may find themselves questioning their healing or find themselves “being scared to heal.” It can be hard for us to embrace recovery because we fear we may lose our sense of identity.

I recently had a conversation with someone who told me they are scared of healing because they do not know themselves without their depression. To say I have had this conversation with others multiple times is an understatement. I have talked with clients, friends, family about this topic. Together let’s explore and discover the complex emotions associated with this fear while discussing strategies you can take to navigate the path toward self-discovery beyond mental illness.

You are a creature of habit. When it comes to mental illness and how it manifests in your life, you’ve become used to it and know what to expect with it. So much so, that mental illness often becomes intertwined in your identity. Mental illness shapes your thoughts, behaviors, and even daily routines. In a cosmic sense mental illness can become a sort of comfort because we know it and it becomes familiar. Especially the longer you have dealt with it. It is all you know and how you have managed and coped for so long.

Because recovery sheds this familiarity and identity we have within our mental illness, the fear of change begins to creep in. The fear of losing ourselves starts to settle in. The question of “who am I without my depression, anxiety, trauma etc.,” kicks into full gear. You start to question if you’d rather deal and suffer with your mental health rather than question your whole being. As you are recovering from mental illness, you are also rediscovering who you are without it. Just like peeling an onion, you are peeling the layers of negative coping skills and the lies spoken by your mental illness that have built up overtime.

I am not in any way saying this process is easy because it is not. It is hard work that can lead to an identity crisis because you will question yourself, values, interests, passions, relationships and much more. What I am saying though is that it is so worth it. It is worth it to live as a truly happy and confident person without fear of suffering from the pain of your negative thinking.

So what do I do?

Well chances are you probably are already taking the first step and that is seeking support. Reach out to your therapist, sign up for a support group, or reach out to friends, family or other people who have gone through this process themselves. This journey is not to be made alone. Having someone who cares and wants best for you is vital and having someone who knows the process well can help calm the thoughts down when it is overwhelming.

Finding Acceptance:

Understanding you are not your mental illness, nor does it define you is vital. Yes, it has shaped a part of your journey, but it is not your entire identity. Accepting that recovery means rediscovering yourself and not erasing who you are, is when the journey begins.

Self Reflect:

Self-reflecting can give you a lot more insight than you may think. Spend some time
journaling, meditating, and practicing mindfulness will be helpful. These exercises will help you gain insight into your true authentic self and what bring you joy and fulfillment. I recommend using the resources from Self-compassion.org Dr. Kristin Neff is the formost researcher in self compassion and her website has many exercises that can help you find self compassion and reflect on your fears.

Be patient with yourself:

You are never going to stop learning about yourself. This will be a long and beautiful journey. And this journey takes time. Remember recovery is not linear, and it is okay to have setbacks. It is essential to be compassionate towards yourself throughout the process.

In the end, the fear of losing your identity when recovering from mental illness is a common and valid concern. But, it’s important to remember that recovery is not about erasing who you are but discovering your true authentic self that has been overshadowed by the mental illness. Embrace the journey, seek support, be compassionate with yourself. Take all the small and important steps you need to get there. You have your whole life ahead of you. A brighter and healthier future is ahead. You are going to find out that your mental illness does not make you, you. What make you, you is your strength, resilience and unique qualities that have always been apart of you.

You got this!

 

If you are looking for a therapist to help you assess for depression, anxiety or trauma and to guide you to recovery from mental illness schedule a consultation call Contact Us.

 

We offer in person therapy in Central Florida, Orlando, Orange County and Osceola County. We offer virtual therapy throughout the state of Florida. Learn more about our treatment approaches here

anxietybipolardepressionLGBTQmental healththerapytrauma

Blogs

Learn how you can take steps toward healing with our latest blogs

Two people helping to heal trauma through close relationship

A Guide to EMDR Therapy: Helping Your Loved One Heal from Trauma

How to help a loved one who is Experiencing Trauma Recently someone told you that your family member or friend is undergoing EMDR Therapy. This can be surprising and confusing at first. Know that you are a trusted person in your friends life and they felt safe sharing with you. I’ve created this guide to […]
EMDR therapy session with male and female sitting across from one another.

Preparing for EMDR: Essential Insights and Readiness Tips

If you are wondering what to expect from EMDR, you’re not alone. Many of my clients express worry or fear about the process. I’ve compiled the most helpful suggestions for preparing for a EMDR cycle. EMDR Therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an 8 phase therapy intervention that helps reduce symptoms of trauma. The […]

Ditch the Resolutions for New Year Values

January 10, 2024
Image of the sky at sunset with purples and pinks.

The start of a new year can often bring about feelings of excitement and anticipation for what’s to come. However, we are also frequently bombarded with messages on social media that urge us to set resolutions and goals, which ultimately leaves us feeling anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed.

Don’t set unrealistic goals, instead take a step back and evaluate the things that are not serving you. Begin by reflecting on what your core values are, you can take steps to align your actions and make positive changes that will benefit your overall wellbeing.

Take these questions as a start to your values journey.

 

  1. What were your highlights of 2023? Who were the people who made it special, what were the experiences that meant most to you?
  2. Write a letter to yourself including a positive message for the year ahead. What advice or direction will help you stick to your values?
  3. What were the values I upheld during 2023? Did you learn anything new about yourself, your relationships, or how you wish to show up in the world?
  4. In 2024 how can you continue to step toward your values, even when life gets in the way? Are there people, places, or routines that can help you stay committed to myself?
  5. What would it feel like this time next year to have stayed true to yourself and continue to focus on what matters to you? What might you be reflecting on in a year?

For more information about values click here

Schedule a consultation with one of our therapists to receive personalized guidance and support for the upcoming year! We offer LGBTQ+ focused therapy in person at our Orlando office, and virtually in Florida.

Blogs

Learn how you can take steps toward healing with our latest blogs

Two people helping to heal trauma through close relationship

A Guide to EMDR Therapy: Helping Your Loved One Heal from Trauma

How to help a loved one who is Experiencing Trauma Recently someone told you that your family member or friend is undergoing EMDR Therapy. This can be surprising and confusing at first. Know that you are a trusted person in your friends life and they felt safe sharing with you. I’ve created this guide to […]
EMDR therapy session with male and female sitting across from one another.

Preparing for EMDR: Essential Insights and Readiness Tips

If you are wondering what to expect from EMDR, you’re not alone. Many of my clients express worry or fear about the process. I’ve compiled the most helpful suggestions for preparing for a EMDR cycle. EMDR Therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an 8 phase therapy intervention that helps reduce symptoms of trauma. The […]