Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is by far the most effective therapeutic process I use. Research proves EMDR to be extremely effeciteve primarily with PTSD. As many other clinicians who use EMDR, I have found EMDR to be highly successful with anxiety and depressive disorders. The best thing about EMDR is that the process is more effective and shorter in duration as opposed to psychotherapeutic modalities including Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
WHAT IS EMDR ANYWAY?
EMDR is never an easy therapy to describe. It works by incorporating bilateral stimulation (BLS) to stimulate the left and right sides of the brain as a way to promote neural integration. This integration is needed in order to process conflict/trauma that resides either consciously in our explicit memory or subconsciously in our implicit working memory. There are different ways to use BLS. Sounds shifting from the right ear to the left ear and/or with touch shifting from the right side of the body to the left side The most effective form of BLS is eye movement... moving the eyes from left to right or right to left. Much like we do during the REM stage of sleep. As a matter of fact, many EMDR therapists and other sleep study/memory experts believe that REM sleep stage is the natural way to process our life experiences.
EMDR manually processes traumatic experiences and information that get stuck within the brain.
The negative memory can be something that happened recently or long ago. The experience will usually leave one feeling threatened in some way causing them to feel scared, sad, hurt etc.. The experience also influences self-perception in a negative way. Once processed using EMDR, the negative memory is integrated within the brain which usually results in becoming “unstuck” by changing perception and then re-arranging placement of the memory within the brain. This change & reprocessing allows the emotional and physical response to settle. EMDR treats the threat/trigger and the underlying negative self cognition that results from negative experiences.
When using EMDR, many cases are resolved within a few weeks after implementation of BLS during the EMDR process. Typically, EMDR processing take up to 8 weeks (one 45-60min/week). The more trauma, the more EMDR would be needed. Anxiety, depression, relationship issues, mood instabilities can often be linked to touchstone or initial memories of which have left a dent in personal perception.
It is important to have a support system and the ability to use positive coping skills effectively while processing trauma either using EMDR, or any other method. As your therapist, it will be my job to make sure you learn and practice coping skills effectively. Many people are very excited to use EMDR but become nervous prior to the BLS process as they are aware the will have to relive their trauma. This is a natural response as no one wants to relive trauma. Aside from the therapy process of EMDR being short lived, much of the trauma does not have to be verbalized. It is processed in thought using BLS.
Two scales are used to measure progress during EMDR. One scale is called the Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) scale. This scale is a 0-10 scale where 10 is most disturbed possible and 0 is completely calm. Many times the SUD will go up before it goes down but all clients manages to go down to either 0 or 1-3. When there is a death involved, it often does not go down to 0, but 1-3 instead.
The other scale is called Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale. This scale measures the negative self cognition associated with the trauma or negative memory. The client will be asked how true their replacement or preferred positive cognition is on a scale of 1-7 where 1 is completely false and 7 is completely true. So if a client reports their negative self cognition as “I am not good enough” and indicates they would like to emotionally believe “I am good enough” they are asked how true is the statement "I am good enough?" Usually clients will report a low number if not 1 (completely false) to start, but by the end of the BLS process, they usually report a 7 (completely true).
After using EMDR, I have heard comments like “I feel like a weight has been lifted,” “ I did not think I could actually feel this way,“ “I feel good!” and "I can breathe again.” Many are quite pleased with the absence of intrusive thoughts and/or unpleasant dreams and often just feel happier. Others notice a change in their physical response as our body memories disappear, I have been told that they no longer have pain they thought was chronic. **There is not evidence to prove that EMDR relieves pain, this is only what I have been told by my clients.**