EMDR and Poor Self Esteem

EMDR is well known regarding its ability to help people who have suffered trauma. But less well known is the positive effect this modality has on poor self esteem. 

People who have chronic negative thoughts about themselves lead a sad, negative existence. They come into the office looking for help but often balk at any suggestion of the therapist to suggest their strengths, or give them homework to help them view themselves or the world differently. The client will often suggest that things will get even worse if they try to get better. Their negativity has become who they are. 

These people with poor self esteem didn’t develop it on their own.They learned it about themselves through lifecircumstances or cultural messages. It could have developed in childhood by incapable caregivers who made them feel inadequate, sexual abuse or sexual assault, survivor guilt, or gender identity, to name a few sources.The irrational negative self concept is usually either “its my fault” or “I’m not good enough” or “there’s something wrong with me”.

Often the explanation of EMDR stimulates their curiosity and they’ll give it a try. The therapist will ask them to remember the first time they learned to feel this way about themselves. One EMDR approach has them close their eyes with bi-lateral stimulation and float back to the first time they remember feeling this way about themselves. Often the clients are amazed that once they make the connection to the source, they suddenly realize where the responsibly lies and they suddenly feel good about themselves for the first time ever.

EMDR is a powerful modality when utilized by a good therapist. If you recognize yourself as you read this, know that there is help for you and you can experience the light hearted wonder of liking yourself.

Maggie Vlazny

Maggie is a Certified Clinical Supervisor and Psychotherapist specializing in marriage counseling, EMDR, Imago therapy, anxiety & depression, women's issues, family therapy and grief counseling.