Can EMDR Work for Covid-Related Trauma?

Posted by  Soribel Martínez, LCSW

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost everyone in some way. We might finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, but so much damage has already been done. 

One major problem triggered by COVID is a “pandemic” of a different kind—one that has affected the mental health of countless individuals across the globe. 

Because of the mental health issues triggered by COVID-19, there has been a rise in the need for different types of therapy—including EMDR. 

Originally used to treat individuals who have experienced trauma, EMDR has seen new life in recent years as studies have shown how effective it is in helping with a variety of mental health issues. 

But, can it work for COVID-related trauma? 

Understanding COVID Trauma

It’s first important to understand that there are several aspects associated with the COVID-19 pandemic that could be considered traumatic. 

Maybe you had the virus, yourself, and ended up staying in the hospital for a while. 

Maybe someone you love passed away from the illness. 

Or, perhaps you lost your job due to the thousands of businesses across the country shutting their doors. 

Even having to change the way you go about your day can be traumatic, and COVID certainly impacted almost everyone’s routines and schedules. 

So, it’s important to recognize that COVID-related trauma is real and might affect you more than you realize. Accepting that is the first step in actively seeking treatment. 

EMDR in Healthcare

Again, EMDR has continued to grow in popularity over the last several years. One area where it’s been a positive force is in the healthcare industry. 

Medical trauma can be incredibly hard to deal with for some people. If you’ve spent time in the hospital, for example, one bad experience can be extremely traumatic. A medical facility is a place where you’re supposed to feel safe. If that didn’t happen, it can absolutely cause trauma. 

If someone you know got seriously sick or even died of COVID-19, that is also an incredibly traumatic event. 

EMDR has shown promise in the healthcare field as it allows the individuals struggling to let go of that specific trauma. Doing so can once again restore that individual’s faith in the healthcare system, so they aren’t terrified of seeking medical attention if they ever need it. 

Is EMDR Effective With COVID Trauma?

It’s important to understand that there are different types of COVID-related trauma. 

Most of them, however, have to do with some type of grief. Grief over a job loss, the death of someone, or even the loss of normalcy. 

EMDR can work for COVID-related trauma by using rapid eye movements to help you connect your brain with new information. The trauma you experienced due to COVID-19 doesn’t necessarily go away, but you can “view” it through a different lens. 

No matter how COVID affected you, EMDR can help you reprocess those memories in a way that won’t cause you to feel paralyzed by the trauma forever. 

That’s especially important, because, unlike most traumas, COVID continues to linger. 

It’s impossible to turn on the news every day and not see or hear something about the pandemic, whether it relates to the vaccine, case numbers, or new precautions. That kind of “in your face” information can be triggering. 

So, in this particular case, EMDR may be better than almost any type of talk therapy. Instead of requiring you to relive what you went through because of COVID, you can reprocess your memories and move forward. 

If you want to learn more about EMDR and how it might help with COVID-related trauma, feel free to contact me. 

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