Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a mode of therapy that is very successful in helping people who suffer from trauma. It also helps treat anxiety, panic, depression, and many other emotional issues. Because of its simplicity, EMDR can bring relatively quick and lasting relief for most types of emotional distress.
The EMDR technique uses a natural function of the body, rapid eye movement (REM), as its basis. Through EMDR therapy, troubling memories are accessed and reprocessed by the brain. This helps you heal from these traumatic memories, so that you can experience a more peaceful state of mind. EMDR doesn’t mean forgetting disturbing memories or events. Instead, it enables you to see them with less distress.
EMDR effectively treats trauma from extreme stress, such as a terrible car accident or sexual abuse. In addition, it helps with everyday problems that could range from public speaking to a fear of spiders. You can also receive EMDR treatment to address memories that create low self-esteem, poor body-image, feelings of powerlessness, and more. I use EMDR in my practice to treat a wide range of issues.
Common Reasons Dr. Kangas Uses EMDR in Counseling for Women
- Birth Trauma Counseling
- NICU Parent Support Counseling
- Postpartum Anxiety and Depression Counseling
- Infertility Counseling
- Pregnancy or Infant Loss Counseling
- Adoption Counseling
- Pregnancy or Childbirth Anxiety Counseling
How Can EMDR help following a birth?
EMDR can be useful for moms dealing with post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, negative body image, and more. Here are some specific areas where EMDR counseling after childbirth.
Birth Trauma Counseling
EMDR can be very effective in treating a mother’s post-traumatic stress symptoms following a traumatic birth. Research shows that one in four mothers consider their birth traumatic or disempowering. Women may view their birth as traumatic even if their life, and the life of their baby, weren’t in danger. What is important is the woman’s perception of danger or trauma, and this can have long-lasting effects. For example, medical practitioners may view a routine episiotomy or c-section as rather uncomplicated. However, the mother could view it as as a profound violation associated with powerlessness or a loss of dignity. Whether EMDR is used immediately following a traumatic birth or many years later, women report that the experience feels significantly less distressing after treatment.
NICU Parent Support
Women who have a NICU baby can also benefit from EMDR. Research indicates that up to 70 percent of NICU moms suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Women often experience PTSD symptoms while their baby is still in the hospital. On the other hand, sometimes symptoms begin after the baby is home. If left untreated, these PTSD symptoms following a NICU stay can last for many years. In fact, they can even impact a new parent’s ability to sleep well.
By reprocessing the traumatic memories of your baby’s NICU stay, you can recover from the trauma and begin truly enjoying your baby. You can put this scary and stressful situation behind you, and move forward with more confidence about parenting and life in general.
Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Treatment
Though initially developed as a trauma treatment, EMDR is now widely recognized as an effective treatment for depression and anxiety. Therefore, EMDR can be very effective when used during postpartum counseling sessions.Counseling for postpartum depression and anxiety not only helps women feel better, but it also benefits the baby. A mom who has invested in her own mental health is able to devote attention to their baby in a way that promotes a healthy mother/child attachment.
Can EMDR Be Used During a Pregnancy?
Yes! EMDR is used during pregnancy to help women who are experiencing anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress symptoms. Because a woman’s mental health problems can impact the fetus during pregnancy, EMDR helps both the woman and her baby. EMDR is especially effective in two areas of pregnancy. First, EMDR helps treat women with anxiety about childbirth, called Tokophobia. Secondly, EMDR can help women with previous sexual trauma who feel triggered during pregnancy.
Anxiety about Childbirth
It is common for women to have fears and concerns about childbirth. For some women, the idea of giving birth creates significant distress. Women often experience symptoms such as panic and anxiety, thoughts of death and dying, recurrent nightmares, sweating and shaking. EMDR can help women reduce the intensity of their anxiety, so they can feel better and have a healthy pregnancy.
History of Sexual Trauma
For women who have experienced prior sexual trauma, the road to motherhood may colored by flashbacks, fear, and anxiety. Doctor’s appointments, invasive procedures, and the nature of pregnancy itself may trigger women, bringing up negative memories and intense feelings. EMDR can be helpful for targeting past abuse so that women can feel well during their pregnancy and following birth.
Does EMDR Help Women Dealing with Infertility, Pregnancy Loss, or Adoption?
Yes, EMDR can help women in all of these contexts.
Struggling with infertility can cause anxiety and stress for many women. Anxiety about invasive medical procedures and treatments, and fears about treatment outcomes or how to proceed can cause significant stress. EMDR can reduce anxiety for women coping with infertility. This allows women to make clear decisions and feel calmer during this stressful and unpredictable time.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support
Experiencing the miscarriage or stillbirth can be devastating and traumatic. The pain and grief women experience may feel unbearable, but EMDR can help women through this extremely difficult time. Although EMDR does not take away people’s sadness, it can helpful in reducing feelings of guilt. It can also help women process their memories in a way that lessens symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Furthermore, it helps reduce anxiety about future pregnancies, enabling women to move forward.
EMDR is useful for several types of adoption situations. It can be used with adoptive moms who are disappointed about not being able to conceive or who are experiencing anxiety about adopting. It can also be effective for moms who were themselves adopted. Sometimes, when these women become pregnant or have a child, feelings about their own adoption are triggered. They may experience feelings of confusion or rejection, and EMDR can help them feel more settled and confident about their own identity and about being a mother themselves.
EMDR Therapy Can Help
If you think EMDR could help you, it is essential to find a therapist with an expertise in this area.
I’m a trained EMDR therapist, approved by EMDRIA, the association that governs EMDR practitioners across the world. I also have extensive training and experience in treating women with issues related to reproductive mental health. Areas where I specialize include infertility, pregnancy and infant loss, postpartum challenges, traumatic childbirth and more. I love using EMDR to help women with their reproductive challenges, and I find the impact it has for them incredibly rewarding. I hope you will contact me to learn more about how EMDR might help you. You can also visit www.emdr.com for more information about EMDR therapy and outcomes.
Begin EMDR & Birth Trauma Counseling for Women
As a new mom, you don’t want to focus all of your energy and focus reliving the trauma of a birth experience that didn’t go as planned or scary moments after your child’s birth where you feared you might lose your precious baby. Or as a pregnant mom, you don’t have to spend your pregnancy feeling worried and anxious about future childbirth. If you’re struggling with your mental health during or after pregnancy, EMDR counseling can help. As a women’s mental health expert, I help women thrive at my Lafayette, CA counseling clinic.
Other Women’s Mental Health Services
In addition to providing EMDR birth trauma counseling for women, I offer a variety of other mental health services as well. I want to help every woman thrive. Other services available include wellness coaching, individual therapy, couples and marriage counseling for new parents, support groups for new moms & pregnant women. In individual counseling, we can cover a wide range of mental health concerns. As a women’s counseling specialist, many of my clients are looking for counseling for infertility, pregnancy and postpartum health, perinatal loss, and support during or after a NICU stay or other infant health concerns. If you are looking for a supportive environment and a therapist who can help you be the best version of yourself, you have found the right place.