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EMDR Therapy: Effective Management and Relief of Chronic Pain

EMDR Therapy: Effective Management and Relief of Chronic Pain

If you’ve been struggling with chronic pain for months or years, you’ve likely searched high and low for a way to cope, let alone get the relief you need.

You may feel guilty for not being able to work, help others, or be more social… and you’ve probably consulted more doctors, had more medical procedures, tried more diets, read more self-help books, and popped more pills than you can count.

Fortunately, if you’re reading this article, you still have hope. And Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) may well be the help you’ve been looking for!

How can EMDR help?

Well, let’s first look at…

The Different Types of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a silent epidemic impairing millions of people emotionally, cognitively, and psychologically, as well as physically.

Some people experience chronic back pain or migraine headaches, others struggle with arthritis in their hands or hips or have a bad knee, and yet others battle conditions such as fibromyalgia, shingles, irritable bowl syndrome and multiple sclerosis.

However, despite the myriad forms chronic pain can take, it most often stems from one of two sources:

  • Physical Maladies – The more time we spend on this planet, the more likely we are to either experience an injury or accident or develop a medical condition that leaves us susceptible to chronic pain.
  • Emotional Injuries – While emotional trauma may get far less attention than physical injuries or conditions, many types of chronic pain have their root in some form of trauma or recurring anxiety or stress. And most types of chronic pain that have a physical origin are exacerbated over time by the ongoing anxiety, stress, and depression they cause.

Yet, regardless of its origin, one thing all types of chronic pain have in common is that they can be extremely challenging to treat…

Effectively Managing and Treating Chronic Pain with EMDR

Of course, physical pain necessitates that your first step be to consult one or more medical doctors and seek treatment for the obvious physical issue(s).

Unfortunately, while consulting one or more physicians and treating the physical symptoms are definitely necessary first steps, this is often where people stop. But, that doesn’t mean the pain stops. And if the pain continues, it often leads to emotional and psychological stress, which in turn can lead to even more pain.

This negative feedback loop and downward spiral are often what make chronic pain so difficult. And this is precisely where EMDR can help!


Well, when we experience emotional or psychological trauma, our brains are often incapable of processing the experience. Instead, our brains continue to prepare our nervous systems and bodies for defensive action indefinitely, which can leads to subconscious anxiety and stress and even cellular damage.

Similarly, persistent pain is often intensified by the anxiety, depression, stress and fatigue it causes. The pain becomes “trapped” in our nervous systems and takes on a life of its own.

So, whether emotional and psychological trauma is the source of your chronic pain or is caused by it, that emotional pain and discomfort invariably intensifies your physical agony.

This is where Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) treatment comes into play…

EMDR first made a major impact in the early 1990s as a highly-effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Since then, EMDR has increasingly been used to help individuals cope with and overcome a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, weight loss, OCD, phobias, and even addiction.

Unlike with traditional talk therapy or medications, an EMDR therapist helps a client create a “learning state” in which the client can focus on a troubling event, feeling, or emotion while the client simultaneously experiences some form of bilateral stimulation – typically moving his or her eyes back and forth in a rapid, rhythmic manner similar to the rapid eye movement that occurs naturally when we dream in our sleep, but which may also include tapping or auditory tones.

It is this simultaneous bilateral stimulation that reduces the power and effect of emotionally charged feelings, memories, or sensations and speeds the client through the healing process.

Just as EMDR has helped tens of thousands of people get relief from the physical and emotional distress associated with trauma, EMDR can help people alter the way physical pain is experienced in the body by inducing relaxation and reducing the physiological symptoms of stress.

In fact, multiple papers and studies indicate EMDR’s ability to substantially help people decrease pain levels and increase people’s ability to control their pain following treatment (see and

Can EMDR Treatment Help You Overcome Chronic Pain?

Although EMDR therapy follows a specific, multi-step treatment plan, EMDR treatment is different for everyone because we’re all unique individuals and our healing processes are guided from within.

That being said, while EMDR therapy may not help you get rid of your pain completely, it can greatly reduce the severity and importance of the pain you’re experiencing, thereby increasing your sense of empowerment and your ability to move forward and enjoy life.

There is a growing need for chronic pain management and treatment that addresses both the physical as well as the psychological and emotional aspects of pain.

Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals lack the holistic training necessary to help clients effectively cope with and overcome chronic pain.

Of course, only you can decide whether or not EMDR treatment is right for you…

However, whatever the origin of your chronic pain, when that pain is addressed from a perspective that integrates your whole being (body, mind, and spirit), true healing can occur, often much faster than you may believe possible!

If you have any questions regarding this article, or if I may be of any other assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 510-735-8868 or email me at I look forward to speaking with you and helping you create a life you truly love living!

Beyond Words Psychotherapy – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR Treatment and EMDR Therapy for Chronic Pain in San Francisco, CA, California

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