What is EMDR Trauma Therapy?
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a mental health psychotherapy treatment technique. EMDR is used to reduce the negative emotional effect of traumatic events.
EMDR involves your eyes moving back and forth while you process traumatic memories. This back-and-forth movement connects the right and left brain hemispheres, engaging logic and emotion. This allows your brain to sort through events, placing them appropriately into an ordered timeline rather than fragments of stuck memory. EMDR’s purpose is to help enable you to heal from trauma or other painful life experiences.
Unlike other therapy methods, EMDR is relatively new, with clinical trials first seen in 1989. However, dozens of clinical trials have been conducted since EMDR’s development showing the effectiveness of this technique in helping a person heal faster than many other methods.
There is, however, a slight issue with this trauma therapy……there is virtually nobody available to provide it! Unfortunately, the number of people living with issues related to trauma, who, on a daily basis, are trying to cope with their emotional disturbances like anxiety, stress, and body pain, keeps getting larger and larger.
So, what do you do if the treatment you know you need is unavailable or you don’t gel with the therapist you see? What options do you have?
EMDR Trauma Therapy Alternatives
Brainwave Entrainment: An Available Alternative to EMDR Therapy
Brainwave Entrainment is not a treatment option for Trauma or PTSD, just in the same way that running is not a ‘treatment’ for obesity. But it’s not to say that it can not help. As with running, if you combine it with other lifestyle changes like healthy eating, a gym session, and a night of good sleep, we know that intrinsically we will feel better and likely lose weight.
Trauma, PTSD and Brainwave Entrainment have a similar correlation. It’s not a treatment, but it can make you feel good and support a healthy mood, emotional well-being and positive, calm brain states.
Brainwave entrainment provides the space needed between you and your symptoms. It allows you to draw breath with a calmer state of mind and fewer or reduced symptoms and triggers that ultimately help to support you in your journey to an improved mental wellness state.
Brainwave entrainment targets an almond-shaped structure that sits in the middle of the temporal lobe of your brain called the amygdala. If all the nerve pathways and organs involved in fight-flight-freeze were instruments in an orchestra, the amygdala would be the conductor. So, by targeting how the amygdala ‘conducts’ our nervous system, we can help how we respond, react and engage with the environment around us.
DeepWave focuses on the reduction of fight-flight-freeze activity in the brain’s temporal lobe by using a gently pulsing high-frequency LED light. It is non-invasive, requires no talking and leaves you with feelings that you might experience after a deep sleep, relaxing massage, a float tank or deep meditation session.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: An Alternative EMDR Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) uses your thoughts and behaviours to look at the relationships that cause you distress. It is a talking treatment that allows you to talk about distressing moments or memories. CBT helps to explore your attitudes and beliefs about things around you and understand how these contribute to your anxiety or depression.
You are taught ways to cope with traumatic memories in a healthy way. CBT is a good alternative to EMDR therapy due to the fact that it focuses on emotions, thoughts and behaviours, Placing more attention on how your perspective affects your reactions. You are given controlled exposure to the traumatic memory without reliving it at the same time as trying new techniques of coping.
While learning to think differently about a traumatic event can be advantageous, talking about it does not work for everyone. For some, talking about the trauma brings it to the surface without having effective mechanisms to manage external and internal experiences and could possibly make symptoms of PTSD worse.
Somatic Coaching: An Alternative to EMDR Therapy
Somatic Coaching uses Sensation Based Motivation Coaching, which may not necessarily rely on your memories to activate, process, or relive the trauma. Rather, it focuses on reprogramming the physical sensations in your body to change your emotional connection with that pain.
Some people experience trauma, but not all are able to get help, mainly because not all trauma leads to PTSD or other diagnosable mental health issues. However, the impact of the traumatic event still leads to chronic body pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and repeated unhelpful behaviours or thought patterns. These can all be signs that you are blocked by past trauma.
By using these three EMDR therapy alternatives, more professionals can help people successfully navigate their trauma responses and live more full and calm lives.