EMDR Versus Neurofeedback: How to Decide Which Treatment is Right for You

EMDR Versus Neurofeedback: How to Decide Which Treatment is Right for You 2018-06-07T11:38:44+00:00

One goal at the beginning of treatment is to assess how ready you are to explore the depths of the trauma you have endured. To figure this out, in the first and second session it is important to take a thorough history. Sometimes this process can take longer if you have never discussed your struggles with anyone in the past. Before we really dig in too deeply, I assess your readiness for EMDR and Neurofeedback, and we decide together on the treatment plan.

We spend some time talking about how you handle emotional stress and identifying resources that can help you in between sessions. I then teach you stress-reduction techniques to make your time outside of therapy less stressful. A goal of EMDR therapy is to produce rapid and effective change while you maintain equilibrium during and between sessions. In order to achieve this, Neurofeedback can be used before EMDR processing begins. Neurofeedback calms your nervous system as a whole, and EMDR processes a particular traumatic memory.

If you have experienced a highly traumatizing event and have a hard time talking about or focusing on the stress without losing sleep, crying, not being able to function at work or living with a high level of anxiety, it makes great sense to begin your healing with neurofeedback.

Neurofeedback is ideal for helping with physiological dysregulation.

By dysregulated, I mean things like irritability, not being able to turn your mind off, physical tension, feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, nightmares, brain fog, hypervigilance, unstable mood, depression/sadness, inattention, insomnia, lack of safety, low self-worth and emotional reactivity. When I understand your symptoms, I can then understand how your nervous system is dysregulated. From there, I can decide what Neurofeedback training would be the most helpful to you.

If you have a lot of trauma, your nervous system is highly activated. In scary situations, we learn life-preserving behaviors, which sometimes continue even after the danger has passed. High arousal is useful in emergencies, but getting stuck there can lead to problems.

This can cause you to react to your environment in ways that no longer serve you. You can’t stop your reaction, even if you understand that it has now become an over-reaction. With Neurofeedback, we calm the agitation and hypervigilance. You feel more at ease, allowing you can handle more and function at a higher level in daily life.

Once your feelings appear to be more manageable to you, then we can begin processing the memories. We start by identifying possible distressing memories and current situations that cause emotional distress.

In general, those with a single traumatic event which occurred in adulthood can be treated in 3 to 5 EMDR sessions.

If you’ve had many traumas, you may need a longer treatment. Your age when you first experienced the traumatic stress is an important factor in determining how long treatment will take.

EMDR helps you face, desensitize and reprocess a particularly traumatic event. In order to do that, your nervous system needs to be resilient. EMDR helps you process the memory and disturbing feelings. We work together to determine which memory to target first, and in successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level. Clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that were once so destructive. You can feel transformed and free.

As a whole treatment plan, Neurofeedback creates resilience and prepares you for a better resolution of trauma using EMDR. Clients generally gain insight into their situations, the emotional distress resolves, and they start to change in ways that make their lives better.

If you have experienced a serious trauma or are re-experiencing one in your nightmares or other painful waking memories, I can help. Please email me at mfoxmft@yahoo.com or call 310-314-6933 to explore the best steps forward to help heal your life.