EMDR Therapist Explains: What to Expect After EMDR Therapy?

min read
LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Therapist

Alex is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She earned a Master of Social Work degree from the USC with a concentration in Children and Families and a sub-concentration in Military Social Work.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a transformative journey that varies from person to person. Establishing clear expectations is crucial for fostering hope and trust in the healing process. This article explores the unique aspects of EMDR therapy, addressing common questions and providing insights into what clients can realistically expect during and after their sessions. We will delve into the nuances of the EMDR experience, emphasizing the importance of open communication with the therapist and the ongoing nature of healing post-therapy.

Key Takeaways:

  • EMDR therapy is highly individualized, and the experience and outcomes differ for each person.
  • Feeling drained, irritable, or emotional after EMDR sessions is normal and part of the healing process.
  • The brain continues to process traumatic memories after EMDR sessions, with sleep playing a crucial role in this ongoing work.
  • Open and honest communication with your EMDR therapist is key to tailoring the therapy to your unique needs.
  • EMDR therapy can be effective for treating anxiety and depression, with clients often feeling empowered by their therapeutic experiences.

Navigating Post-EMDR Therapy Feelings

Common Emotional Responses and How to Handle Them

After an EMDR session, it's common to experience a range of emotions. You might feel relief, but also sadness, fear, or even anger. It's crucial to recognize these feelings as part of the healing process.

  • Describe any emotions to your therapist, even if they're vague.
  • Acknowledge feelings like being overwhelmed or intense emotions without clear labels.
  • Notice where in your body these emotions manifest.

It's also normal for emotions to continue surfacing after your session. If you find yourself feeling irritable or drained, take it as a sign that your brain is processing. Be patient with yourself and engage in self-care practices that resonate with you. Thrive In Life Therapy offers various therapies, including EMDR, to help heal trauma through different approaches. Your therapist is there to guide you, but your self-awareness will play a significant role in your healing.

Why Feeling Drained or Irritable Is Normal

After an EMDR session, it's common to ask, "Does EMDR make you tired?" The answer is yes, and it's a normal part of the healing process. Your brain and body have been working hard to process traumatic memories, which can be as taxing as physical labor. Feeling weird after EMDR is not unusual; it's akin to the sensitivity of a healing physical wound. Emotional healing can also leave you feeling more exposed or sensitive temporarily.

It's essential to recognize these feelings as a sign of progress, not a setback. Your nervous system may be dysregulated from past trauma, interpreting everyday occurrences as threats, leading to exhaustion. This heightened state of alert can result in feeling drained or irritable after therapy.

To support your recovery, consider these self-care practices:

  • Allow yourself extra sleep
  • Spend time journaling
  • Engage in conversations with trusted friends
  • Create your own decompression routine

Remember, if you're feeling stable, it's important to continue with EMDR therapy. However, always communicate with your therapist about your experiences and sensations, especially if they're intense or overwhelming. After an EMDR session, it's crucial to practice self-care. You may experience a range of emotions, and that's okay. It's part of the healing process.

The Ongoing Process of Healing

How Your Brain Continues to Work After EMDR

After an EMDR session, your brain doesn't just stop working on the issues you've addressed. Your healing journey continues as your mind processes the traumatic memories, often when you're least aware of it, like during sleep. This ongoing processing can lead to moments of insight or a sudden realization that symptoms have lessened or disappeared.

  • Your brain makes connections between sessions, similar to breakthroughs in talk therapy.
  • You might notice a reduction in symptoms unexpectedly, questioning when the last occurrence was.
  • Sleep plays a crucial role in this subconscious processing.

The Role of Sleep in Processing Traumatic Memories

After an EMDR session, it's not uncommon to experience a continuation of the healing process during sleep. Your brain actively works to reprocess traumatic memories, often manifesting in dreams or shifts in your emotional state upon waking. This is a natural and beneficial aspect of recovery, as it allows for the consolidation of the therapeutic work done during waking hours.

What to Expect in Your Next Session

As you continue your EMDR journey, it's important to understand that the healing process doesn't pause between sessions. Your brain will actively work on making connections and processing traumatic memories, even when you're not in the therapist's office. This can lead to insights and emotional shifts at any time.

Before the Next Session:

  • Your therapist will reevaluate your progress.
  • A plan will be set for managing any distress.
  • You may be encouraged to journal or reflect on changes.

During your next session, expect a structured approach:

  1. Reevaluation of your progress.
  2. Deciding on the next steps for treatment.
  3. A focus on any new memories or feelings that have arisen.

Embracing Your Unique Journey Post-EMDR Therapy

As we wrap up this exploration of what to expect after EMDR therapy, I want to emphasize the deeply personal nature of healing. You may find yourself feeling a myriad of emotions, from relief to exhaustion, as your brain continues to process memories. It's important to be gentle with yourself and recognize that there's no universal response to this therapy. Your experience is valid, no matter how it unfolds. Remember, the goal of EMDR is not just to alleviate symptoms but to empower you with a renewed sense of agency over your life. I encourage you to maintain open communication with your therapist and to trust in the unique process of your recovery. Healing is not a linear path, but with each step, you're moving closer to reclaiming your story and your strength.

Ready To Begin Your Healing Journey?

Contact us for a free consultation. No pressure, no commitments, just see if we’re a good fit for you. Learn more about our EMDR therapy service.

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