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EMDR Therapy for Black Folks: Fact or Fiction? Part 3

If you’ve been here before, you may have seen previous posts on EMDR therapy. Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy (EMDR) is a popular and well-researched tool for addressing trauma therapy. It involves using left and right movements to help store memories and desensitize overwhelming sensations.

In my work as a Trauma Therapist, with trauma survivors, I’ve seen wonderful things happen during and after EMDR therapy. In centering space for black folk, I’ve also noticed fear and hesitancy. Many people are understandably afraid to revisit previous trauma or to work through active trauma. Folks are also often confused about EMDR and how it actually works. The truth is you won’t know if EMDR is “right” for you until you try it. And, if you’re a trauma survivor, I wholeheartedly encourage you to try EMDR. Sometimes, trying something new can be hard because we have a million questions and not enough answers. So let’s answer some of these questions. 

Two young black people sit leaning against a tree. Find release from trauma through EMDR Therapy in Baltimore, MD.

Commonly asked questions about EMDR therapy

Do we have to revisit the trauma? 

The short answer is yes and no. Part of this answer is yes because, in EMDR therapy, there’s a combination of left-right movement and visualization of past traumatic memories. These aspects are there to help you return to the moment to finish incomplete trauma responses and desensitize sensations. Desensitization and storing won’t occur if we don’t revisit the memory. But we aren’t revisiting your past trauma and staying there. The point is to go there and move through it to help your body realize that you’ve already survived this moment. Part of this answer is no because we may not revisit every single memory in lengthy detail. We may choose certain memories that are most connected to current symptomology. So, let me say this again, we aren’t going back to trauma and putting the car in park. We go back to drive through with a new GPS. 

Can’t we just deal with the symptoms?

The short answer is no. Here’s the thing symptoms will continuously occur because the root of their origin still exists. We could talk about sleep hygiene, supplements, and regulating circadian rhythms over and over. But, if we don’t address the nighttime childhood trauma truly impacting your sleep, relief may be minimal. Also, “what wires together fires together.” Meaning if you experience a traumatic event and subsequent events remind you of the original event triggering will happen. So, in EMDR, this would mean we go back to the original or early trauma to reduce the impact of the current triggering.

How do I know I can handle revisiting the trauma?

Listen, we can spend years suppressing, repressing, and avoiding trauma. Being the strong, black, hyper-independent person that gets it all done can make us unsure about revisiting trauma. It can make you think that revisiting what has hurt you will break you. I am here to tell you that you are already a survivor. You can handle revisiting it because you’ve already survived it. Also, we will work together for you to learn mind-body skills to use for coping with distress, anxiety, fear, and self-doubt. Together, we will create a tool kit for you to use to address any concerns. But please remember that you can trust yourself. 

A gay black couple embrace as one of them deals with the impact of trauma. EMDR Therapy in Baltimore, MD is an effective tool to overcome and process trauma.

Start EMDR therapy with a Black therapist in Baltimore, MD

For many Black folks, the idea of revisiting their trauma can feel scary. Even with a professional and years of healing work, it can still feel scary. Because EMDR therapy is really about trusting yourself and believing in your worthiness. It’s also about believing in your ability to heal. For so long, Black folk have carried the world on their backs and illness in our bodies. Being strong has saved us in so many ways. I get this, and because of this, please allow me to remind you that this comes at a cost. You deserve to do more than survive. You deserve to heal. Your healing is an act of resistance and is your birthright. Let’s journey to healing together. Get started with EMDR therapy now:

  1. Contact me here with any questions about counseling.
  2. No questions and ready to get started with therapy? Schedule a consultation now.
  3. Say yes to taking your power back.