How to Self-Administer EMDR Therapy
Anxiety Therapy Treatments
As anyone who suffers from an anxiety syndrome or disorder knows, the most important thing after it happens is to have it never happen again.
However, statistics show that most people who suffer from an anxiety or panic disorder will most likely have their symptoms recur--multiple times.
In anxiety disorders like OCD, bipolar, schizophrenia, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, PTSD, and other phobic-type syndromes, the possible recurrence of the anxiety-producing scenario can be enough to perpetuate the disorder.
For example, the person becomes so fixated on it possibly happening again that it becomes paralyzing. The "thing" that made it happen becomes the phobia in many cases and results in an unwillingness to ever be put in that same situation--or similar situations.
Though a particular event can be a trigger in such disorders as PTSD, the actual fear of the possibility of anxiety can stop may people dead in their tracks.
So, the question becomes which came first--the anxiety or the anxiety-producing moment? How do you begin to cure anxiety disorders without addressing the anxiety itself?
In this author's humble opinion, you can't. You have to address the anxiety as it occurs each and every time and find a way to get through that specific moment. Baby steps--or one day at a time.
EMDR Treatment - How Does it Work?
A relatively new form of psychotherapy that is being used today on various kinds of anxiety disorders is called EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprogramming.
While there are many other treatments available for anxiety and stress disorders, EMDR is showing great promise in treating many types of anxiety-related problems.
The theory behind EMDR is that, especially in cases of post traumatic stress disorder, anxious or stressful feelings become trapped within the body at moments of panic. A fight or flight response is usually triggered in most people when something bad happens.
That can extend to a traumatic event such as witnessing a horrific accident or it can relate to someone being accidentally trapped under water for several minutes. Whatever the trauma or the event, the panic or the fear is what sometimes stays "caught." The feeling is literally trapped inside the nervous system and until the feeling is somehow healed, it will always be present and thus can always become a source of reproducible anxiety--in many different similar and non-similar situations.
Treatment for Panic Anxiety Symptoms
For many people who suffer from one of the anxiety or panic disorders, unfortunately there is usually little warning when something will trigger an attack.
The beauty of self-administered EMDR is that no matter where the person is, relief for anxiety is in sight. And there are several ways that you can self-administer EMDR.
So how does EMDR make the stress and anxiety go away? A very simplistic way to explain it would be that the brain is stimulated on both the right and left side simultaneously.
Images are recreated in the person's mind from the anxiety event (something that caused the reaction initially) and the person is asked to revisit that place--no matter how uncomfortable.
Then through imagery while the simultaneous stimulation is being given, the person proceeds to imagery on a more positive plane--they are safe, the situation is resolved this time, no harm came to them and most especially, the anxiety is resolved.
The simultaneous stimulation can be in the form of having the person follow someone's fingers with their eyes without moving their head from left to right.
It can also be done by someone tapping on the person's knees, first right, then left.
It can also be done in a variety of other ways from headphones playing in the left ear and then the right ear to buzzes being felt in one hand and then the other. The method is not as important as the actual stimulation.
But what if the person is alone and is having a panic episode or an anxiety attack? What if their therapist or their confidante is not available?
EMDR therapy can actually be self-administered in several very simple ways. The techniques can be performed anywhere and at any time.
The butterfly hug is demonstrated on the YouTube video below and is part of an EMDR therapy called dual attention stimulation, or DAS.
It works the same way a therapist-administered form of EMDR would except that it is something anyone can do themselves.
Keep in mind that part of EMDR therapy is preparing yourself by understanding the full concepts of the treatment. Once someone understands the methodology, then these techniques are easily employed.
Without knowledge of the several stages of EMDR, this therapy will still most likely help anyone although the effect is even greater if one understands the full mechanics of EMDR therapy.
Whether you are seated in a chair, standing, or lying in bed--at the onset of panic or anxiety symptoms, focus on the symptoms and the feelings. The goal of EMDR is not to avoid the inciting event but to learn a better way to deal with it.
Focus on your feelings--panic, anxiety, whatever they are--and place your own hands on your opposite upper forearms--as if you were giving yourself a half hug.
Begin gently tapping on your forearms one at a time--first the left, then the right. Continue doing this. Close your eyes if it helps you to concentrate.
Imagine yourself in the situation from a better perspective, or remove yourself from it completely. Go to a "safe place" in your mind--whatever that good place is--and continue tapping.
Continue tapping until the anxiety or panic attack has subsided. When you think of the anxious moment from the beginning or the situation that caused the anxiety to occur, you should be able to visualize it from a more detached/non-anxious perspective.
Anxiety and Panic Remedies for Anyone
There are many other uses for this technique. This is an excellent technique to use on children who are prone to anxiety attacks or develop overstimulation problems.
You can place a child on your shoulder and begin gently tapping on each side while giving them soothing mental images or merely inviting them to be calmer.
You can also perform this technique by tapping on your knees while sitting in a chair. The idea is that you tap on one side of the body followed by tapping on the other side of the body. This frees the body's anxious and panic response and allows the brain to take over leading to dissolution of the fear and stress and replacing it with a calmer sense of well being.
There is also another YouTube video which follows which uses the computer as a method to self-administer EMDR. This video concentrates on dealing with obtrusive thoughts or triggers that may set off anxiety or panic attacks for someone. It is yet another way to deal with symptoms one episode/thought at a time.
EMDR - The Butterfly Hug
Demo of Self-Administered EMDR Therapy
How Can You Overcome Anxiety?
That's the million dollar question. For some of us, anxiety becomes a cumulative curse as one situation that makes us anxious leads to other situations that make us even more anxious. It becomes a vicious circle.
However, research shows that dealing with one anxious moment at a time is the best way to treat anxiety and panic disorders of any kind. While statistics do not show as much promise for EMDR with agoraphobia and other phobic conditions, I tend to disagree with this.
Based upon my own experience with EMDR in dealing with PTSD, I have also found it very beneficial in dealing with other anxiety-producing repercussions that I've experienced.
Employing the butterfly hug has worked for me on several occasions when something out of the blue triggered an irrational fear about something. It has also helped me to deal with any stressful situation as the techniques it's based on are all about helping someone cope with stress and anxiety.
From my own experience, I've found that it makes more sense to deal with events as they occur, rather than wondering and worrying about when they will occur--because occur they will. EMDR in my opinion, whether administered by a therapist or self-administered, is a proactive way of dealing with anxiety of any kind.
While medications, herbal remedies, biofeedback, etc., have shown great promise with all sorts of panic and anxiety disorders, EMDR therapy seems to be able to get to the root of the problem and resolve it once and for all. It's only a matter of dealing with each anxious episode, as it arises, to become "healed."
Have you ever heard of EMDR therapy?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
How long does EMDR therapy take to work?
It really all depends - on how much you 'submit' to it, how deep seated the trauma is, and how good the therapist is. I found that it was a little hard for me to relax and do at first. Once I did allow myself to try and relive the memory, it was easier. It reminds me of meditation in some ways.Helpful 2
When using EMDR for addiction, what thoughts do you focus on during treatment?
I did not do EMDR for addiction, but I would imagine just from the treatment I went through that in that case, you would work on self-soothing behaviors to help combat cravings and reaffirm self-motivating behaviors about overcoming addiction. EMDR is a healing therapeutic modality that helps de-stress and take one out of the moments that perpetuate anxiety so think that it could be used to keep addiction symptoms at bay by empowering an individual to overcome anxiety and fears of relapse.Helpful 1
I have aphantasia, I can not picture things in my head like others can. How can I do the butterfly hug with aphantasia? And does EMDR work with someone with aphantasia such as me? I remember things. I just can't picture them.