Emdr Therapy

I used to see a dialectical behavior therapist and she suggested we try EMDR therapy. All you do is close your eyes and think of something traumatic while holding a little paddle in each hand that vibrated alternately. Youre supposed to be able to think differently about the traumatic event.

In the long run, it worked, but I felt emotionally icky and sick right after we did that. I said I didnt want to do any more because I didnt like it.

Now I have other traumatic issues haunting me that I cant let go of or get rid of. Its like an emotional roadblock that hit us borderlines like a brick and drowns us in overwhelming emotions that last way too long. I wonder what to do about it..
tmarker86 tmarker86
26-30, F
3 Responses Dec 2, 2012

On 12.3.12 I posted the following which still pertains to you!

I'm a therapist who uses EMDR as my primary method and I've also personally had EMDR therapy for anxiety and grief. As a client, EMDR worked extremely well and also really fast (just a few sessions) on my problems. I just want to add that in my experience as an EMDR therapist and in my role as a facilitator who trains other therapists in EMDR (certified by the EMDR International Association and trained by the EMDR Institute, both of which I strongly recommend you look for in an EMDR Level II therapist) I have used EMDR successfully with PTSD, anxiety issues, depression, grief, body image, phobias, panic attacks, distressing memories, and bad dreams. And probably more stuff that I can't remember at the moment. Other EMDR therapists are more proficient in using it for eating disorders, OCD, dissociative disorders, addictions, etc. It's a very gentle method with no "down-side" so that in the hands of a professional EMDR therapist, there should be no freak-outs or worsening of day-to-day functioning.

Your experience with EMDR as you describe it sounds significantly "less than" the true method. While EMDR may sound simple, it's definitely more complex than your description.

In fact, during EMDR you learn a lot of great coping strategies and self-soothing techniques, some very similar to DBT, which you can use during EMDR processing or anytime you feel the need. You learn how to access a “Safe or Calm Place” which you can use at ANY TIME during EMDR processing (or on your own) if it feels scary, or too emotional. One of the key assets of EMDR is that YOU, the client, are in control NOW, even though you probably weren’t in the past or during the bad events. You NEVER need re-live an experience or go into great detail, ever! You NEVER need to go through the entire memory. YOU can decide to keep the lights (or the alternating sounds and/or tactile pulsars, or the waving hand) going, or stop them, whichever helps titrate – measure and adjust the balance or “dose“ of the processing. During EMDR processing there are regular “breaks” and you can control when and how many but the therapist should be stopping the bilateral stimulation every 25-50 passes of the lights to ask you to take a deep breath and ask you to say just a bit of what you’re noticing. (The stimulation should not be kept on continuously, because there are specific procedures that need to be followed to process the memory). The breaks help keep a “foot in the present” while you’re processing the past. I'm going to make an assumption (likely unfair) that your therapist didn't have enough EMDR training, which would have created safety, installed resources, and made a clear plan of how to proceed without getting overwhelmed. Again, and I can’t say this enough, YOU ARE IN CHARGE so YOU can make the process tolerable. And your therapist should be experienced in the EMDR techniques that help make it the gentlest and safest way to detoxify bad life experiences.

On your own, you can use some of the techniques in Dr. Shapiro's new book "Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR." Dr. Shapiro is the founder/creator of EMDR but all the proceeds from the book go to two charities: the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program and the EMDR Research Foundation). Anyway, the book is terrific! It's an easy read, helps you understand what's "pushing" your feelings and behavior, helps you connect the dots from past experiences to current life. Also gives lots of really helpful ways that are used during EMDR therapy to calm disturbing thoughts and feelings. I recommend the book to all my clients, and to all my friends and relatives!

Unlike Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) there's no homework. Unlike Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE), you're not forced to relive the horrors of bad events without relief. There is a ton of great research now proving EMDR's efficacy and it is considered one of the threee treatments of choice for trauma by organizations such as ISTSS (International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies), American Psychiatric Assoc, Amer. Psychological Assoc, Dept of Veteran Affairs, Dept. of Defense, Departments of Health in Northern Ireland, UK, Israel, the Netherlands, France, and other countries and organizations.

I can't say enough good things about EMDR. It's changed my life both as a person/consumer, and as a therapist. It's so satisfying to have someone come in for help and then to witness them get through their issues and finish therapy relatively quickly (compared to regular talk therapy, it's like night and day). I am both humbled by and grateful for this wonderful method that heals suffering.

How many sessions did you have? I have bpd and have had great success. I've been to 5 sessions so far. The suicidal thoughts have decreased dramatically.

I'm a therapist who uses EMDR as my primary method and I've also personally had EMDR therapy for anxiety and grief. As a client, EMDR worked extremely well and also really fast (just a few sessions) on my problems. I just want to add that in my experience as an EMDR therapist and in my role as a facilitator who trains other therapists in EMDR (certified by the EMDR International Association and trained by the EMDR Institute, both of which I strongly recommend you look for in an EMDR Level II therapist) I have used EMDR successfully with PTSD, anxiety issues, depression, grief, body image, phobias, panic attacks, distressing memories, and bad dreams. And probably more stuff that I can't remember at the moment. Other EMDR therapists are more proficient in using it for eating disorders, OCD, dissociative disorders, addictions, etc. It's a very gentle method with no "down-side" so that in the hands of a professional EMDR therapist, there should be no freak-outs or worsening of day-to-day functioning.
Your experience with EMDR as you describe it sounds significantly "less than" the true method. While EMDR may sound simple, it's definitely more complex than your description.

In fact, during EMDR you learn a lot of great coping strategies and self-soothing techniques, some very similar to DBT, which you can use during EMDR processing or anytime you feel the need. You learn how to access a “Safe or Calm Place” which you can use at ANY TIME during EMDR processing (or on your own) if it feels scary, or too emotional. One of the key assets of EMDR is that YOU, the client, are in control NOW, even though you probably weren’t in the past or during the bad events. You NEVER need re-live an experience or go into great detail, ever! You NEVER need to go through the entire memory. YOU can decide to keep the lights (or the alternating sounds and/or tactile pulsars, or the waving hand) going, or stop them, whichever helps titrate – measure and adjust the balance or “dose“ of the processing. During EMDR processing there are regular “breaks” and you can control when and how many but the therapist should be stopping the bilateral stimulation every 25-50 passes of the lights to ask you to take a deep breath and ask you to say just a bit of what you’re noticing. (The stimulation should not be kept on continuously, because there are specific procedures that need to be followed to process the memory). The breaks help keep a “foot in the present” while you’re processing the past. I'm going to make an assumption (likely unfair) that your therapist didn't have enough EMDR training, which would have created safety, installed resources, and made a clear plan of how to proceed without getting overwhelmed. Again, and I can’t say this enough, YOU ARE IN CHARGE so YOU can make the process tolerable. And your therapist should be experienced in the EMDR techniques that help make it the gentlest and safest way to detoxify bad life experiences.

On your own, you can use some of the techniques in Dr. Shapiro's new book "Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR." Dr. Shapiro is the founder/creator of EMDR but all the proceeds from the book go to two charities: the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program and the EMDR Research Foundation). Anyway, the book is terrific! It's an easy read, helps you understand what's "pushing" your feelings and behavior, helps you connect the dots from past experiences to current life. Also gives lots of really helpful ways that are used during EMDR therapy to calm disturbing thoughts and feelings. I recommend the book to all my clients, and to all my friends and relatives!

Unlike Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) there's no homework. Unlike Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE), you're not forced to relive the horrors of bad events without relief. There is a ton of great research now proving EMDR's efficacy and it is considered one of the threee treatments of choice for trauma by organizations such as ISTSS (International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation), American Psychiatric Assoc, Amer. Psychological Assoc, Dept of Veteran Affairs, Dept. of Defense, Departments of Health in Northern Ireland, UK, Israel, the Netherlands, France, and other countries and organizations.

I can't say enough good things about EMDR. It's changed my life both as a person/consumer, and as a therapist. It's so satisfying to have someone come in for help and then to witness them get through their issues and finish therapy relatively quickly (compared to regular talk therapy, it's like night and day). I am both humbled by and grateful for this wonderful method that heals suffering.