Have you been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic? Maybe the question should be, who hasn’t?
Grieving loved ones, healthcare professionals, COVID patients or critical care survivors, now-homeschooling parents, displaced workers, first responders, people feeling isolated from their social supports- many of us have had our lives changed since March 2020. No one asked for this, and no one could have been prepared for it.
Feeling out of control and fearful takes a toll on us: physically, mentally, and emotionally.
If you or someone you care about is struggling, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy may help.
EMDR helps the brain to process stressful experiences to decrease stress symptoms, increase strengths-based beliefs, and facilitate meaning-making in the wake of difficulties. A typically brief intervention, EMDR involves bringing together elements of your experience (such as parts of the memory, negative thoughts, and emotions) while directing your attention to back-and-forth sensory elements (taps, tones, or eye movements). This process seems to activate your brain’s own natural information processing system, allowing self-healing and resolution of the distressing experience. While every person’s circumstances are unique, many are able to resolve distress within several sessions, making EMDR a time-efficient intervention.
Two of the specific groups affected by COVID-19 include critical care survivors and their family members, and first responders and healthcare workers on the front lines.
Critical care (or ICU, intensive care unit) survivors of COVID face unique stressors compared with patients who have survived critical care at other times. For example, being completely alone while fighting a still-unknown illness is significantly different from being surrounded by loved ones while in intensive care unit. To help COVID survivors and loved ones to understand more about the psychological impact of medical trauma, this free guide from Psychology Tools may be helpful to understand what you or your loved one may be experiencing.
Frontline workers, including healthcare professionals, first responders, and other essential personnel, are exposed to high levels of stress and pressure in the context of providing essential care and service. Facing an “invisible threat” for extended periods of time introduces ongoing fear and anxiety and requires a high level of constant vigilance, which takes a massive toll on the nervous system. Exposure to prolonged distressing circumstances places first responders at higher risk for developing symptoms of acute stress reactions and post-traumatic stress disorder. (See above for information about EMDR therapy, which is very effective for symptoms of trauma and stress.)
As a member of the EMDR Disaster Network, I am committed to giving back to the community, especially those on the front lines who are sacrificing their own health and safety to help heal patients and protect the wider community. If your insurance does not cover treatment, I offer low-cost services to ensure that you get the support you need. When you call, please mention your role as a frontline worker in order to be scheduled as quickly as possible. Thank you for serving our community!