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crankywithakeyboard's avatar

What do you think about EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing)?

Asked by crankywithakeyboard (649points) May 3rd, 2010

Has anyone tried EMDR?

What has been your experience?

Did it help alleviate your traumatic memories or post-traumatic stress disorder?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

29 Answers

trailsillustrated's avatar

I have heard interviews with vets who had this therapy. It took years off their treatment time and it really, really gave them peace. I thought about it for grief and even looked up an experience practitioner but I never ended up doing it. It would be my first option if I had really bad pst

escapedone7's avatar

Yes. I am currently receiving EMDR but also taking other therapies at the same time. I also meet once a week for group DBT therapy, I also see a psychiatrist. I wouldn’t rely on this as the ONLY treatment but I do find it very helpful. It has helped decrease the flashbacks and resulting panic attacks particularly quite a bit.

I don’t know about you but I get triggered and flip out. One time I was eating at a restaurant and the person across from me was cutting a steak. My eyes were fixated on the knife, some light gleamed off the metal, and all the sudden I had a full on flashback of when someone used a knife from the kitchen drawer to terrorize me. I had an immediate emotional melt down and had to excuse myself. At least then I knew what the memory was and where it came from. The odd thing is sometimes the memory is suppressed and I have the emotional reaction but have to identify the memory and the trigger. This does not make the memories go away. They are still there. It just helped me to process things so they stop springing out of nowhere and taking over, if that makes any sense. I guess it takes the power out of the memory in a way.

I was told it stimulates the same parts of the brain as REM sleep because you move your eyes back and forth. Some people think it is hokey and in the beginning I thought it was silly, until it started to work.

Cupcake's avatar

I have heard great things about it.

escapedone7's avatar
This video gives some information.

Oh I also used to “jump out of my skin” if anyone walked up behind me, or walked into a room when I was absorbed in thought. I would have a full on startle response and scream. That quit happening too.

le_inferno's avatar

This is absolute bullshit.
Francine Shapiro’s “scientific” explanation of it makes no sense at all. It’s quackery. Unfortunately, people do that a lot in psychology.

alive's avatar

i actaully recently went through it.

honestly it is hard to tell what it did for me and the research about it has been mostly inconclusive.

i feel like, for me, it was more of a relaxation skill or process. the back and forth eye movement gave me something else to concentrate on and let the stress of the memory go.

i think it also has a lot to do with just the individual. it might help you, it might not.

i think for me when it comes down to it, just regular talking therapy worked best. i needed to let it out to another person.

my advise is to be open to it, but don’t let your therapist dictate to you what your treatment should be. ultimately it is your own decision… talk about the different options.

le_inferno's avatar

@alive has it right, it’s not any magic scientific principle involving eye movement that helps people, it’s the relaxation. This concept has already been proven in psychology before, decades ago, with Joseph Wolpe’s systematic desensitization.

Jeruba's avatar

A psychologist tried it with me years ago, when it was a brand new technique. I think I was his first attempt. We were both amazed at how effective it was. The target issue was not as serious as PTSD, but I still needed help with it, and this procedure reduced my level of anxiety by something like 60 to 75%.

I don’t think relaxation had anything to do with it. I can’t say that I was especially relaxed, and I have had plenty of relaxing experiences that did not accomplish what this did. It was the specific visualizations and the strategically interrupted progression that seemed to carry the impact.

escapedone7's avatar

Since I am receiving multiple treatments at once, including medication and regular therapy, it is impossible to know how much to attribute only to the EMDR by itself. I am hitting my problem from every direction I can.

liminal's avatar

@le_inferno There is considerable room for questioning the efficacy of solely using ’technique’ as a psychological intervention. Yet, it seems a stretch to rule it out by saying it is ”bullshit”. You say yourself it is a technique that aids in desensitization.

Joseph Wolpe actually thinks it works. He is quoted as saying this about Shapiro: ” “She came up to me after a panel and said she had a new kind of treatment and an article she would like published,” remembers Wolpe. “I was rather skeptical, but I said we would consider it. Then I tried out this method with two or three patients and it worked.”

He is even quoted as praising the technique ”‘There are certain cases in which this is the only known potent method.” Here is my source:

The debate over EDMR’s legitimacy doesn’t prove it is a total waste. Some practitioners like it. Others don’t.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@le_inferno how do you figure? if the left side of the brain checks out and the two sides of the brain don’t work together during trauma doesn’t it make sense that engaging both while reliving trauma would work?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I love it. It really helped me get through some pretty serious PTSD.

alive's avatar

@papayalily whether or not it worked for you, i think it is fair to call the concept a lil kooky, and frankly, in the academic psych community it is still not considered a tried and true technique… it is still just a theory with inconclusive results

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@alive i don’t just think that because it helped me, i think that because the science behind it makes sense. It’s also based on neuroscience, instead of the idea “talking about it will fix everything” that’s so prevalent in psychology. I mean, if you see most or all of psychology as crap, you probably aren’t going to be on board with it. But I don’t think it’s it’s even a little bit out there for the psychology field.

Also, may i inquire as to how long you tried it?

liminal's avatar

@alive It is actually a practice that is criticized by some in the psych community, not all. What are you basing your thinking on?

A recent meta-analysis concluded that there is some conclusive benefit to using EMDR.

susanc's avatar

Francine Shapiro has been very upfront about not knowing why it works. Very.
Most psychological theory is unproven, yet some of techniques work some of the time on some people.
I had EMDR once and it helped me instantly and forever. I had a very wise and capable practitioner, and I think that helped.

alive's avatar

i am basing my thinking on what @susanc just said “Francine Shapiro has been very upfront about not knowing why it works. Very.”

i am not saying it does or doesn’t work, i am saying there is no conclusive evidence to say that it does or doesn’t.

anyways, i honestly don’t think my brain “processed the trauma” from just the EMDR. i think releasing the emotions (in anyway) is what does works.

because in the EMDR you pin point the memory, so you have to confront to a certain extent the build up of emotions you have from that event.

anyways, im not a psychologist. closest i got was learning about this in a psych 101 class

alive's avatar

(well that and also being a patient of EMDR)

liminal's avatar

There is conclusive evidence that states it can work:

Simply because it is not completely understood or always the best choice for a patient doesn’t preclude it’s potential effectiveness.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@alive others have continued to figure out why it works since Shapiro.

alive's avatar

@liminal and @papayalily i didn’t say it does or doesn’t work

that study just says that PTSD treatment should focus on the trauma not on stress management… and i can just type into google a search for why EMDR doesn’t work and find something too because it is inconclusive, and they still don’t understand why it works.

i did all this research before opting to have my EMDR.

all the research says is that they don’t really know, but some therapists choose to do it anyway because they have had positive results.

honestly, i don’t believe that trauma can ever go away, with any kind of treatment. there is only a way to simmer down the explosions. (if that makes sense)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@alive you can also find studies saying that the world is really flat and AIDS is just in your head. The internet may not be the best place to go for what the general consensus of a professional field is.

Also, EMDR done correctly should be focusing on the trauma not stress management. Having said that, often therapists try to build up a good stress management so that you can HANDLE reliving the trauma.

I guess it depends on what your definition of “going away” is. If you define it as forgetting that it ever happened, probably true. But if you define it as not ruling your life and not being troubled by thinking about it, then less so.

alive's avatar

i know that…. the study deals with 3 diff ways to deal with PTSD
1) is trauma based (TFCBT and EMDR),
2) stress management
3) “other”

you aren’t paying any attention.

and a person can experience bouts of going through the stress again. EMRD isn’t just for “PTSD” it is for trauma in general

liminal's avatar

That is why I linked a meta analysis (not a study) from a respected journal. Which states that EMDR and CBT interventions “improved PTSD symptoms.” My point is that dismissing it out of hand is rash. It works for some and for some it doesn’t. When I say “works” I mean improvement in the management of symptoms. I am not familiar with the idea of EMDR being used to eliminate trauma and I can’t speak to that.

edit: @alive I do not doubt your experience, I believe you and see the value of your insight. I am pressing against the thought of trivializing EMDR as kooky bs or it not being found “tried and true” in the psych community.

alive's avatar

why are you both stuck on “dismissing” it…? when did i say that…

all i have said is inconclusive. the definition of inconclusive is not putting an end to doubt or question; not leading to a definite decision, result

anyways, my apologies to @crankywithakeyboard this has gotten off of your original question.

the EMDR help me cope with my trauma during a crucial time when i was having reoccurring panics/stress etc. it did not “fix” the problem. it was an interesting experience. i think more than simply the EMDR went into me feeling better for the time being.

le_inferno's avatar

@liminal It’s bullshit because it’s merely a repackaged technique that’s already been established, slapped with a fancy new label.
Also, her explanation for why it works is “the system may become unbalanced due to a trauma or through stress engendered during a developmental window, but once appropriately catalyzed and maintained in a dynamic state by EMDR, it transmutes information to a state of therapeutically appropriate resolution.”
....the FUCK? This says absolutely nothing.

The fact that Joseph Wolpe said it worked for “two or three patients” does not give it any kind of scientific merit. Testimony is not scientific evidence, and that is an incredibly small sample size.

Like @alive said, there’s no evidence from controlled studies that this EMDR is any better than standard exposure treatments. A researcher reviewing the evidence concluded that the eye movements, supposedly essential to the technique, do not constitute “anything more than pseudoscientific window dressing.”

@papayalily The fact that it “makes sense” because it sounds right, doesn’t mean it is. There’s simply no proof.

liminal's avatar

@le_inferno I agree, neither Wolpe’s or Shaprio’s testimony is enough information to build or dismiss a case for the use of EMDR as a treatment. That is why I referenced a meta analysis of 38 controlled studies that concluded EMDR and TFCBT “improved PTSD symptoms more than waiting-list or usual care.” (read-up for the link) As @papayalily points out: EMDR has evolved since its origins. As I said, there are some in the psych community who find it an efficacious intervention and there are some who do not. The psych community disagrees over therapeutic interventions all the time. Simply because a therapeutic intervention is debated doesn’t preclude it’s potential effectiveness. These are the things I think about EMDR, obviously, you think differently.

napolean's avatar

le_inferno, it sounds as though you’re someone who likes to make informed decisions. Heresy! I came here after my therapist recommended EMDR after four months of sessions and varying medication have left my inner child constipated. I just wanted to hear that “EMDR is a lovely treatment”, and not all your high-fangled arguments against it. I’ve grown very comfortable with the “let’s give this a shot” approach to psychology and like the “I know a guy (for whom EMDR worked)” recommendation … it makes me feel fuzzy inside. Moreover, the other fella referenced a “meta analysis”. I’m not sure what that means but it sure sounds high faluten. What more do you need? Maybe it’s time to stop questioning and start having some blind faith. It hasn’t worked for me yet, but I know a friend of a guy for whom it has.

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