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EMDR Therapy: Empowering Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissistic abuse can leave deep emotional scars that impact an individual’s sense of self-worth and well-being. In the quest for healing, various therapeutic approaches can be employed, one of which is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.

After reading this article, it should help you understand as to whether this is something you might want to consider as an alternative to talk therapy.

What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a specialized form of psychotherapy that was initially developed to treat individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is founded on the idea that distressing memories, including those from traumatic experiences, can be reprocessed and integrated in a way that alleviates emotional distress.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

EMDR therapy involves a structured eight-phase approach, each serving a specific purpose in the healing process:

1. History-taking and Treatment Planning: The therapist gathers crucial information regarding the client’s history and identifies target memories or experiences to address during the therapy session.

2. Preparation: The therapist gives the client further information as to the process of EMDR, preparing them and helping them put together coping skills to manage any distress they may feel during therapy.

3. Assessment: During this process, target memories are identified, and associated negative beliefs and emotions are pinpointed. At this point the therapist may also ask the client questions.

4. Desensitization: The desensitization process occurs as the client begins to focus on the target memories, while engaging in bilateral stimulation. This is usually achieved as the client uses movements such as tapping, auditory cues or hand movements. It helps the desensitize the emotional charge that is associated with the memory.

5. Installation: The therapist helps by installing positive beliefs to replace the negative ones that are associated with the target memory. By doing this positive talk, it can strengthen the client’s sense of self-worth and increase confidence and resilience.

6. Body Scan: The client is guided to notice any remaining physical tension or discomfort associated with the target memory. This is done with the guidance of the therapist.

7. Closure: The therapist ensures the client is feeling calm before concluding the session. Grounding techniques are often used to help the client feel present and safe such as placing feet on the floor and other exercises.

8. Reevaluation: The client would then return for subsequent sessions, and the therapist would then review and assess the progress that has been made by the client to see if there is any further distress that needs to be worked on.

EMDR Therapy for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Recovering from narcissistic abuse often involves addressing complex feelings of betrayal, worthlessness, and emotional trauma. EMDR therapy can be highly effective in this context for several reasons:

  1. EMDR targets traumatic memories, and it can allow survivors focus on specific memories associated with the abuse. In turn, it helps them to process and release emotional weight experienced.

2. EMDR empowers a client to reclaim their self-worth by integrating positive beliefs, which may have previously been undermined by negative intrusive thoughts brought on by narcissistic abuse.

3. EMDR can reduce the emotional triggers by reducing its’ intensity, so they can regain control over their own emotional responses. Reducing Emotional Triggers.

4. EMDR can provide a safe space for clients to explore their trauma, provided the therapist is empathetic and trained.

So is it viable to use EMDR therapy with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery?

EMDR therapy offers a structured and evidence-based approach to healing from the emotional wounds of narcissistic abuse. While it may not be the sole treatment for every survivor, it can be a powerful tool when integrated into a comprehensive therapeutic plan.

Whilst EMDR therapy can be a good addition to the therapeutic process, talk therapy may be more suited to someone who is trying to mentally process their emotions and what has happened to them.

If you or someone you know is suffering from narcissistic abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out for help by a trained professional.

By Annette Tavitian

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Counsellor

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