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EMDR and Chronic Illness: 6 Ways EMDR Therapy is effective- Insights from a Westchester NY Therapist

chronic illness and EMDR therapy, EMDR and chronic pain, emdr therapy

Chronic illness is a challenging and often life-altering condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Coping with chronic illness involves not only the physical aspects of managing symptoms but also the emotional and psychological impact it can have on one's life. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic approach originally designed to treat trauma-related disorders, but it has shown promise in helping individuals with chronic illness manage their emotional and psychological challenges. In this article, we will explore the effects of EMDR on chronic illness and how it can promote emotional healing and improved well-being.

Understanding EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy approach developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. It was initially used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but has since been applied to various mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. EMDR is based on the idea that traumatic experiences can get "stuck" in the brain, leading to emotional distress and physical symptoms.

6 Ways EMDR Can Be Effective for Chronic Illness

1. Reducing Psychological Distress

Living with a chronic illness can lead to a range of emotional responses, such as anxiety, depression and feelings of hopelessness. EMDR helps individuals process these emotions by reprocessing traumatic or distressing memories associated with their illness. This can lead to a reduction in emotional suffering, improved mood, and a greater sense of emotional control.

2. Managing Pain Perception

While EMDR is not a direct pain management technique, it can indirectly help individuals manage their experience of pain. Chronic pain often has a strong psychological component and EMDR can reduce anxiety and stress levels associated with pain, making it more bearable. It may also help individuals break the cycle of pain and distress, leading to an improved quality of life.

3. Enhancing Coping Skills

Chronic illness can place tremendous strain on one's coping abilities. EMDR can equip individuals with improved coping skills by addressing the negative beliefs and feelings associated with their illness. This can empower individuals to better manage their symptoms and the challenges that come with chronic illness.

4. Strengthening Emotional Resilience

By addressing past traumatic experiences, EMDR can help individuals build emotional resilience. This enables them to better navigate the unpredictable nature of chronic illness and cope with the emotional ups and downs that often accompany it.

5. Promoting Mind-Body Healing

EMDR can promote a connection between the mind and body. Chronic illness is often accompanied by a host of physical symptoms and EMDR can help individuals recognize and address the emotional factors that may exacerbate their physical condition. By healing emotional wounds, there can be a corresponding improvement in physical well-being.

6. Improving Overall Quality of Life

The ultimate goal of EMDR in the context of chronic illness is to improve the overall quality of life. By addressing the emotional and psychological aspects of living with a chronic condition, individuals may experience a sense of relief, empowerment, and hope that positively impacts daily life and experience.

It's important to note that EMDR is most effective when integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that may include medical management, physical therapy, and other appropriate interventions for chronic illness.

EMDR has shown promise in helping individuals with chronic illness manage the emotional and psychological challenges that accompany their condition. By addressing past traumas and distressing memories, EMDR can reduce psychological suffering, improve coping skills, and promote a better quality of life for those living with chronic illness.

If you or someone you know is dealing with the emotional impact of chronic illness, consider discussing EMDR as a potential therapeutic option with a qualified mental health professional.

While it may not cure the physical condition, it can make a significant difference in emotional healing and overall well-being.


emdr therapy, Briana Collins, Scarsdale, ny, Westchester therapy

Briana Collins is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in Scarsdale at Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling, serving clients living in NY.

Briana specializes in working with individuals 13 and up, struggling with anxiety, chronic illness, grief, life transitions, ADHD, and gender identity.

Briana uses a combination of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness, and Gestalt & Schema Therapy in her work with clients.


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