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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Upshot on EMDR

Let's slow it down, my friends. Before you go out and spend a lot of money on a therapist to treat your PTSD with EMDR, or embark on learning to how to use EMDR in your practices, wait until we talk about exposure therapies in depth (next week or the week following, please G-d).

It's the exposure that resolves the trauma, the visual focus on that snapshot memory, not the hocus pocus of eye movement. That's just my opinion, but you'll soon understand.

Sorry about the confusion.

therapydoc

22 comments:

Wendy said...

I have had EMDR on about 6 occasions during my therapy sessions. I have to say, I was not really aware of any change until days later when I thought about sometime particularily traumatic we had worked on - and it didn't have the "punch" behind it anymore. It wasn't gone, it still hurt mildly, but it was something I could stop, look at and move along. I found it very helpful - but I tried two different therapist before I found one that was effective for me. So for my experience it was not only the EMDR itself, but it was also the "operator" too.
Wendy

kerro said...

You say "It's the exposure that resolves the trauma, the visual focus on that snapshot memory, not the hocus pocus of eye movement."

I'm interested to know more. I have been doing "exposure" with one therapist and have found the memories losing their power. Another therapist wants me to do EMDR, but I can't help thinking there's some hocus pocus involved.

I'll look forward to your posts.

taichigirl said...

I've been interested in this therapy for a while after hearing about it, but never tried it. Then an acupuncturist recommended the book, "Walking your Blues Away" which uses what sounds like a similar approach in that one holds an image of the traumatic incident in mind while walking for about 20 minutes, arms swinging freely and eyes focused on the horizon. The author explains that the healing comes from the alternating movement of arms and legs while walking which incorporates both sides of the brain in assimilating the trauma.
Recently my daughter told me that she has found a method called EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) very helpful for her anxiety. You can learn about it at www.emofree.com.

therapydoc said...

You all realize that just because I post a comment doesn't mean I endorse the therapy, right?

Anonymous said...

Ahhh... I was wondering if you were going to get into other exposure therapies...

I know I have read at least one article that discussed the the meditative state of emdr & how journalling and other things can induce it too. And yes, I am using the word meditative, because the other word, may be a turn off for some who believe any comment to be true...

The thing, for me, about EMDR, really, was the physical connection. We didn't do the eye-thing, but we used hand-held tappers - which really helped me - because it really kept me aware of the present which prevented flashbacks as opposed to memory processing.

Prior to emdr - I had worked with journalling, multiple times, writing the memory, then framing the memory. I tried talking out the memory, i even drew sequenced art of the memory... however, it seemed that, no matter how i tried to express it... i did it so others could SEE why i was the way i was... the emdr... I did it so I could SEE who i had the potential to be.

For me, and only my experience, I believe that i really kept my trauma forefront and surrounded myself with vicarious trauma experiences, which kept me in a fear induced state, as an avoidant method keeping me from feeling the true impact of the trauma.

Or in english...

emdr changed me from talking about my trauma to others, to talking to me about what happened.

Getting long again... =)

I tried these different treatments for ptsd, the journaling, the talking, the poetry and stories, the art therapy, and it helped me express myself, but not come to terms with it.

However, exposure therapy worked really well, when dealing with my fear of (literal) snakes. =)

Might as well give me a name,

Vic

therapydoc said...

Thanks, Vic!

Dreaming again said...

sigh. Just wish there was another way around this all besides exposure or emdr or desensitization ..whatever the route ... just forgetting it doesn't seem to work ..but how I wish it did.

The realization that as I progress toward my degree in psychology .. I *am* going to have to face my own demons ... is a bit daunting.

like I told my psych instructor ... I wanted to get into other peoples heads! Not my own!! (she laughed at me) but when I repeated the conversation to my therapist ...she was far less amused than my professor.

Bobsterz said...

Therapies and techniques that tend to get results like EMDR (according to research or word on the street) tend to have a similar formula, and part of it is to get a positive or relaxed state within a short time of exposure to the memory or issue. Eye movement (done on purpose as in EMDR) is known to cause theta wave amplitude to increase. So I would hold off on making generalizations about eye movement or exposure until more is known. I think exposure is a component of a formula that exists in many forms, even in EFT. EMDR works faster than exposure therapy for many people (from what I recall of research and reactions of clients), and the eye movement may be an important reason for this. Also, EMDR costs less than exposure therapy when it takes less time. There's no special extra charge for getting EMDR over other therapy methods. I hope this post is useful.

therapydoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
therapydoc said...

I tend not to hold off on anything, Bob. It's a blog, not an authority. Welcome to the dialogue.

Syd said...

I just read an interesting article in the paper in which a veteran from WWII had PTSD over being near a battleship. So the therapist worked with him so that he can walk past the battleship memorial without panic. They started out in the parking lot and progressed very gradually from there. Interesting stuff.

Anna said...

Dreaming, I think my psych degree ended up doing the same thing!

Mark said...

Looks like you have created a stir. Looking forward to your next installment.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Therapy Doc, because this comment has nothing to do with this post ...

but I don't know how to email you and I wanted to share this YouTube video with you (and, assuming that you are outside the over 2 million in the past week that haven't viewed this).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY

I'm sending this link to you for two reasons: first, to share Susan Boyle's event with you - it is an event, and it's wonderful; and second, to ask you what it means that so many are so touched by this.

I know that I tear up everytime I view it,and I've replayed the thing several times now. Heck, tear up: I CRY. It makes me happy and proud and encouraged and overwhelmed with feeling.

I'm far from the only one doing this, according to web comments in various places. People, apparently, are crying all over the place about this 7 minute singing audition.

Susan Boyle has a great voice, but it's so much more than that -- seeing an underdog win? WHAT?

The best way that I can explain this, really, is that there is almost a holiness here. And maybe I should remove the word "almost" from that previous sentence.

Now that I've rambled on the keyboard, thanks for your time. Hope you enjoy this clip and thanks for any comments or post(!) that you might write, to explain this growing phenomenon.

Liara Covert said...

Slowing down can be exactly what human beings require to shift focus and discern the nature of their energy vibration. As one learns to step back, one learns to sense and live very differently.

Lisa Marie said...

Very interesting subject material...

On a side note. I visit San Diego 3 or 4x a year (to see my dad) and he tells me that line "I can't remember the last time it rained here" all the the time. Honestly I think it's just a ploy to keep more people from moving there! ;)

Retriever said...

I remember an enthusiastic friend telling me EMDR would cure my kid's autism. I was sceptical. Never tried it for him.

I can relate to your comment about exposure helping, tho. His pediatrician teased me, when I was distraught over the kid's diagnosis (late, when he was 7) that "You do know, R, that it's all your fault that it took so long to diagnose him!""What do you mean--you better not be buying into that refrigerator mom stuff or I'm out of her."""The reverse: I've seen you with all your kids, and you are such a persistently affectionate mom, so constantly cuddling them, making eye contact, getting their attention, that you're the reason he acts so normal socially most of the time. You wouldn't let him NOT look at you!" His theory was that because I had worn him, nursed on demand for 2 1/2 years, taken him everywhere with me, and kept trying to get a response out of the kid (not consciously, but just trying to get the same positive feedback as the older typical kids had given) I had somewhat desensitized him, worn down his autistic aversion to eye contact and close physical contact.

Who knows if he was right. But we have definitely found that exposure, unscientifically applied,works in overcoming many of the kid's rigidities and compulsions and aversions.

Online Counseling Blog said...

I was trained by Francine Shapiro herself on the use of EMDR many years ago and I have used it in my psychotherapy practice extensively. I would say that it is a wonderful tool that really works to decrease or extinguish PTSD or phobia symptoms. For more counseling information, check out http://www.onlinecounselingblog.com

Anonymous said...

All this positive stuff about EMDR. I tried it once about 14 years ago. I barely functioned the week after and still have trouble with the image I was thinking about at the time- it burned it in so much deeper. Likewise, hypnotherapy lead me to psychosis and, correct me if I'm wrong, but EMDR does seem related to hypnosis... no? I'm wondering if you could say when EMDR is not a good idea.

therapydoc said...

ANON, thanks, you've done a good job on it yourself. I'm about to post on it, really am, give me another day or maybe even today, I don't know. Treating PTSD or anything else for that matter, is so much bigger than any one tick tock.

Anonymous said...

I was totally skeptical of EMDR. I did a whole heap of research and the founding story of it's 'discovery' is just really hilariously mystical. But after 4more than 5 years of heaps of psychosomatic vitamin and supplement therapy, talk therapy, and others, there was no other way in to an understanding and important _restructing_ of my own PTSD and fibromyaelgia than the remarkable emotional, neuronal, and non-discursive "processing" aspect of EMDR. I had the binaural sound stimulation in my ears (via headphones), rather than the finger pointing technique, and I imagine that I would find the finger pointing much more 'novel' a therapy to digest. The idea still seems a bit ridiculous. But the binaural sounds impacted upon my days and dreams afterwards and for months like a powerful meditation / drug, and I had not felt so 'open' in more than 5 years for those hours and days and weeks after some of my sessions. Most noticeably, to myself and others, I was able to pursue, enjoy and feel unthreatened by explorative casual sex in the months after my treatment, for the first time in my life in a remarkable way. But on my own terms (dialogically speaking) for the first time ever. After years of learning about and practicing treatments of anxiety, depression and PTSD - both as a self-empowered patient but also as a scholar of trauma, political theory, epistemology, philosophy, feminism etc, i cannot emphasise enough how blown away i was by the efficacy of EMDR. Finally (I have already lost my chance not to sound evangelical, i am aware) i should mention that after EMDR i also felt for the first time that I could distinguish between my psychic and chemical wellbeing, and only then decided to try a low dose of meds after i felt psychically healed and physically/biologically still a little disempowered in terms of my constitution (on the days i didn't go for a run, for example, i felt it impossible to find the serotonin that made me feel those natural smiles twinkle across my face happen.) So after EMDR, on meds, and continuing infrequent sessions, i have for the first time an enduring self-concept, a concept of physical, psyhic and biological integrity, that can now work in dialogue with others, and better understand and engage with relationships of all kinds, across the board. That is the end of my personal advertisement for EMDR. I am aware that finding treatment for PTSD is so productive and don't want your readers to shy away from this one just because it's so darn strange. :)

therapydoc said...

I think we've heard stranger. Thanks, Anon.