EMDR For Treatment of Anxiety

The use of EMDR therapy for anxiety is becoming more and more popular as more clinicians and patients understand the benefits of this unique treatment. By understanding how EMDR therapy works and the theories behind its effectiveness, you can determine if EMDR therapy seems right for you. While outpatient treatment can be effective for some, people with severe anxiety may be best served by integrating EMDR therapy within a broader range of care.

EMDR Therapy for Anxiety: How It Works

EMDR therapy works by directing eye movements while imagining painful scenarios and shifting your attention toward more positive thoughts, dispelling anxiety.

While EMDR therapy is growing in popularity in the mental health community, it has not risen to the level of popularity that modalities like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) have, and thus remains a mystery to many.

During this process, the EMDR therapist asks the client to notice the sensations, images, and emotions they are experiencing and slowly begin to shift attention away from negative thoughts toward more positive ones. In doing so, the anxiety begins to subside and the client can regain control of their emotional state. Several other evaluations document that EMDR treatment provides relief from a variety of physical complaints associated with anxiety disorders.

One of the benefits of EMDR therapy is that you don’t necessarily have to talk about traumatic memories, which makes the therapy particularly attractive to those who have difficulty expressing their experiences or whose experiences remain too painful to talk about. Alternatively, EMDR used for anxiety can be a largely internal process during which you are gently directed by a compassionate therapist who seeks to move you away from the place of anxiety toward a place of inner peace and calm. This process can allow you to access parts of yourself that traditional speech therapy might not have.

Although no one is entirely sure why EMDR treatment works, there are several theories regarding its exact mechanism of action.

Despite the evidence that EMDR works well, there is not enough evidence for how it works. Dr. Stephen Lepley EMDR therapist notes, “By evoking traumatic events [and thoughts] and diverting attention from their emotional consequences, EMDR borrows in some ways the basic principles used in prolonged exposure therapy, the gold standard behavioral psychotherapy for PTSD [and other anxiety disorders]. ” Another theory about why EMDR therapy works includes the way the method might mimic the effects of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

However, do you not necessarily have to have experienced a traumatic event for this process to be effective; Even imaginary and hypothetical stressful scenarios and anxiety experiences themselves can be addressed using this technique. Stephen Lepley believes that part of EMDR’s success can be attributed to the way it engages imagination “where the client feels their way of overcoming their fears” in a relaxed state, ultimately allowing you to reimagine and take control of those fears.

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I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) & Mental Health Service Provider (MHSP) in Tennessee

I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of EMDR Therapy and have seen the treatment help my patients time and time again. With over 15 years of experience in traditional personal & family therapy & counseling in my background, I find as an EMDR therapist in Tennessee that the treatment works faster to highlight and address deep-rooted problems than traditional treatment modalities.  Most of my patients end up working with me through traditional therapy and counseling while also undergoing EMDR therapy under my direction. 

Steven Lepley LPC, MHSP

Steven Lepley LPC, MHSP

Licensed in Tennessee

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mental Health Services Provider & EMDR Therapist offering virtual telemedicine appointments throughout all of Tennessee.

Ask me about my experience & how I can help you address the challenges you are facing. Call me or text me at 615.330.2659.