In the 1980s, a literature professor named Francine Shapiro had received a diagnosis of cancer, triggering significant psychological shock. Anyone diagnosed with a life-threatening condition like cancer may be unable to cope with the stress that accompanies the diagnosis. When the stress following an event (in the case of Francine it was a diagnosis) becomes so severe that it is deemed traumatic, an individual is said to experience “PTSD” or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Francine felt completely hopeless to her diagnosis and the stress-response being produced by her body. By complete accident she noticed that by moving her eyes back and forth, she felt more relaxed and less stressed about her situation. Specifically, she noticed that if she moved her eyes side to side (laterally) or diagonally, she experienced a greater degree of relaxation.
Her self-discovered biohack of rapid-eye movement to cope with a traumatic experience would evolve into a psychotherapy technique known as “EMDR” – an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. As a result of her own healing with EMDR, Francine felt it necessary to share with others. Since her initial accidental discovery in the 1980s, the technique is now regarded as a highly effective treatment for PTSD.
What is EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing)?
EMDR is regarded as a form of psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, primarily for the treatment of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). She believes that when we are faced with trauma, our brain is unable to process the event. In other words, the traumatic experience overrides our ability to cope and the brain becomes “stuck” as a result of the trauma.
The memory of the traumatic experience isn’t fully processed, and as a result, remains latent in our memory networks. This unprocessed, latent traumatic memory continues to wreak havoc upon the brain and physiology. An individual remains psychologically “primed” to any stimuli related to the trauma that they’ve endured.
The goal of EMDR therapy is to help an individual process their latent memories, thereby reducing their neural and physiological impact. By fully processing memories of the traumatic experience, an individual’s brain and nervous system are able to heal. This means that after the traumatic memory is processed, the parasympathetic relaxation response is able to properly function again.
8 Phases of EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing)
EMDR isn’t a technique that can be done upon first visit with a therapist. Those that are interested in EMDR will need to find a licensed EMDR practitioner and work with them to determine whether they are a good fit for the procedure. Assuming the individual could benefit from the process, there are 8 phases of treatment to be conducted.
Each specific phase of the EMDR is regarded as having specific intentions. Most people think of eye movements back and forth with the procedure, but that’s just one of the eight phases. Think of the other phases as either preparation phases or reflection phases.
Phase 1: History and Treatment Planning
In the first phase of EMDR, a therapist will thoroughly evaluate a client’s history. They will collect data regarding the client’s psychological health and determine how long a they’ve held the trauma. Typically an in-person interview will be conducted by the therapist, allowing them to gather as much information as possible from the client.
This may span over the period of several therapy sessions to help a therapist get a better picture of what the client is dealing with. The therapist will take note of any troubling memories, particularly those that are related to the trauma. They will also note any other significant complaints made by the client – as these may become targets of memory processing.
The client will be informed of the treatment plan and the therapist will discuss the technique with the client. Various personal targets for the EMDR will become apparent to the therapist such as: disturbing events, trauma, unsettling emotions, or uncomfortable memories. In some cases, maladaptive beliefs are also identified (e.g. “I can’t trust anyone”).
Phase 2: Preparation
To better prepare for the later phases of EMDR, a psychotherapist will come up with some immediate coping techniques for the client. These coping techniques should help reduce the individual’s stress response or hyperactivation of the sympathetic nervous system. Examples of tools that can be used to help the client prepare for the later phases of treatment include: guided imagery, self-hypnosis, visualization, meditation, or other relaxation exercises.
This is an important phase of EMDR due to the fact that the individual is likely overstimulated to the point that they are not ready for the later phases. By slowly toning down the sympathetic nervous system, the individual with PTSD will have a better chance of reprocessing the memory. The preparation phase may take awhile, and progress may halt until a therapist can see that the client is adhering to the preparation instructions.
In some cases, a client may be asked to identify a “safe place” or “safe symbol” that represents peace, safety, and comfort. This “safe place” can be used in a later session to help trigger feelings of safety and calmness when a patient is attempting to tackle a highly unsettling trauma.
Phase 3: Assessment
Imagery: In the assessment phase, a therapist will ask a client whether they can visualize an image or scenery that resembles the disturbing event. This image should be a “snapshot” of the disturbing event and will be the primary subject of focus for the EMDR. For example, if a client was at war, they may visualize the combat vehicle that they were riding in during the trauma.
Cognition: As the client describes the particular image they’re visualizing, a therapist will ask the client to describe their specific thoughts about their visualized image. During this process, a therapist will note all negative thoughts or “negative cognition” (NC) related to the image of visualization. The same image is then held, and the client is then instructed to formulate positive thoughts or “positive cognition” (PC) related to it.
This portion of the EMDR may be distressing due to revisiting imagery associated with the trauma and the fact that many people fail to generate any positive cognition associated with the event. The goal is to come up with some degree of positive cognition related to the imagery that the patient fully believes. A therapist will ask on a scale of 1 to 7 how strongly the client believes their positive thoughts related to the image to be true.
If the client says “7” – it signifies 100% truth, whereas if the client says “1” – it signifies 0% truth. This 1 to 7 scale is referenced as a “Validity of Cognition” (VOC) scale and is considered successful in determining whether their thoughts are valid or invalid related to the image.
Emotional distress: Following the Validity of Cognition (VOC) ratings, a therapist will discuss the client’s emotions. The emotional distress is measured on another scale called the “Subjective Units of Distress Scale” (SUD). This scale takes measurements from 0 to 10 – with 0 meaning “zero” distress and 10 signifying maximum possible distress.
Body scan: The client is asked by the therapist to identify areas of their body in which they sense feelings of distress. Some individuals may feel choked up in their neck, a tight chest, or completely tense everywhere. Others may note a significant headache or other sensations related to the stressful emotions.
Phase 4: Desensitization
When most people think of EMDR, they think of the desensitization phase. This is the stage where the accidental discovery by Francine Shapiro comes into play. During the “desensitization” phase, a client will focus on a disturbing memory (related to their trauma), negative cognition, and bodily sensation related to the trauma for short bursts of 15 to 30 seconds.
During these short-bursts of focus on the disturbing memory, negative cognition, and emotional sensations – the client will simultaneously fixate their attention to a stimulus that initiates rapid, lateral eye movement. This secondary stimulus may be a pulsing bright light machine specifically engineered for EMDR or a therapist may wave his or her fingers in front of the client’s eyes. The goal is to initiate rapid-eye movement that aids in the reprocessing of the disturbing image.
The imagery is getting reprocessed as a result of the rapid, lateral eye movement. After each burst of exposure to “dual stimuli” (e.g. the disturbing memory and the lateral pulsing light), the client will be asked to give a subjective report of their experience. In other words if any thoughts, memories, emotions, physical sensations, or imagery surfaces – they will discuss it with the therapist.
Following the newly surfaced thoughts or sensations, the client will then be instructed to hold those particular thoughts for another burst of rapid, lateral eye movements. In some cases though, the newly surfaced thought will not be a target for another set of eye movements, rather the client will be instructed to revert back to the foundational imagery or target memory.
Throughout the process, a therapist will inquire about the client’s level of distress related to the foundational imagery or target memory. The desensitization phase is considered “complete” when a client answers with a “0” or “1” on the 1 to 7 subjective unit of distress (SUD) scale; indicating that the patient has experienced recovery.
Phase 5: Installation
As this phase is reached, a therapist will ask the client whether their positive cognition related to the trauma is still valid. After the “desensitization” phase, many clients may notice that their perspective of the traumatic event has changed, in some cases significantly. In some cases a client may need to generate a new positive cognition (PC) related to the event.
The newly generated positive cognition and the imagery of the event is then “held” and the therapist will ask how they feel. More specifically, the therapist will ask how “valid” the positive cognition is based on the Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale; “7” signifies 100% validity and is considered an optimal answer. During this installation phase, further bilateral eye movements are conducted.
This phase of “installation” is only regarded as being complete when the client feels as if their positive cognition is fully believed on the Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale. In other words, their positive cognition related to the event should have jumped to a full “7” signifying 100% truth related to their positive thoughts.
Phase 6: Body Scan
At this juncture of EMDR, a therapist will ask a client whether they feel any disturbing bodily sensations while fixating their attention on the target memory and positive cognition. A client may still feel: pain, distress, and/or discomfort throughout the body. The goal of the therapist is to pinpoint any lingering, unsettling sensations that remain.
Even simple feelings of tension and tightness related to the event should be reported by the client. The same bilateral, rapid eye movement technique is then used to effectively diminish the intensity of these sensations. In other words, should any feelings of discomfort remain, the client will fixate their attention on them while simultaneously engaging in the bilateral stimulation.
The body scan phase is complete when a client no longer experiences any surges of negative thoughts, unsettling emotions, or physical sensations related to the traumatic event. They should also now have established significant positive cognition (PC) without any discomfort.
Phase 7: Debriefing
During the debriefing phase, a therapist will give the client any additional support necessary to facilitate their recovery. The EMDR procedure may be discussed more in-depth as well as the client’s psychological state. The therapist will generally let the client know that they have successfully completed various phases of the procedure.
They may discuss the degree of progress the client has managed to make with their EMDR therapy. The client may reflect on how far he or she has come since initially enrolling in therapy. Often times the contrast of pre-EMDR and post-treatment is of immense benefit to the individual.
Phase 8: Re-Evaluation
A client may be instructed to keep a journal of their experience and/or review their week or weeks following the EMDR procedure. If any new sensations, emotions, or thoughts arise – they will be discussed with the therapist. The therapist may also want to reassess the level of disturbance related to the trauma once again to evaluate whether they have sustained their recovery.
In some cases, the initial trauma will warrant revisiting and another round of EMDR. Other individuals may find that EMDR helped immensely for one trauma, but they still have other traumatic experiences that remain unresolved. In other cases, certain individuals may find that EMDR just didn’t pan out as well as they had hoped.
This is why it is important to work with your therapist and come up with a plan of action for the future. If you feel completely recovered from your traumas and as if the EMDR was successful, you may not require any additional therapy. Both you and your therapist should work together to assess your psychological health.
Possible Mechanisms of EMDR
Below are some mechanisms by which EMDR is thought to elicit an effect upon both the brain and nervous system.
Brain activation: Some research suggests that traumatic events trigger significant arousal from the limbic system. Overactivation of the limbic regions corresponding to the prefrontal and orbitofrontal corticies explain the emotional arousal stemming from the traumatic event. Following EMDR therapy, activity in the limbic system and prefrontal and orbitofrontal correlates is minimized, while activity in the parietal-temporo-occipital regions increases.
Brain waves: The technique may alter electrical activity in the brain as a result of rapid-eye movement as well as revisitation of the traumatic experience. In a highly stressed state, it is believed that an individual has too much beta activity and insufficient alpha activity. It may be likely that slower brain waves may emerge upon resolution of the traumatic memories, leading to feelings of relaxation and inner peace.
Coping mechanisms: A therapist may help the client learn some ways in which he or she can cope with the traumatic experience and negative cognition. It is possible that teaching complementary coping skills may improve EMDR treatment outcomes. It is known that therapy can change the brain, and certain coping mechanisms (e.g. deep breathing) may change physiology.
Desensitization: At a certain point during EMDR therapy, a patient may become desensitized to the traumatic memory. In other words, thinking about the memory doesn’t initiate the stress-response that it used to. There is no surge of adrenaline or sympathetic overactivation characterized by bodily discomfort and negative emotion when an individual reflects on the trauma. This desensitization goes hand-in-hand with neurophysiological alterations.
Eye-movement: Inventor of the technique speculated that EMDR’s efficacy was related directly to the rapid-eye movement portion. Rapid-eye movement during EMDR is considered similar to rapid-eye movement experienced during sleep. Researchers speculate that the rapid-eye movement experienced during EMDR may induce a neurological state similar to that experienced during REM sleep – which aids in the processing of traumatic memories.
Parasympathetic activation: In the early phases of EMDR, a client is often instructed to engage in relaxation exercises. These relaxation exercises may involve things like guided imagery to facilitate a relaxation response. This targets a physiological component of stress and trauma by toning down activity in the sympathetic nervous system.
It is known that overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system is a hallmark of those that have endured trauma. This may simultaneously help slow brain waves and ultimately prepare our physiology to overcome the trauma. Throughout the entire EMDR technique, it is thought that the parasympathetic nervous system becomes more active; thus facilitating a relaxation-response.
Positive cognition: During the EMDR technique, a client is instructed to incorporate “positive cognition” (PC) associated with the traumatic experience. The positive cognition may be difficult to incorporate at first, but by gradually increasing positive thoughts about the experience, the patient is able to reframe the experience. The positive cognition may result in a substantial shifting of neural activity.
Reprocessing: As the traumatic memories are reprocessed during the EMDR therapy, activity in the amygdala is reduced. This is thought to be accomplished via interaction between the hippocampus and amygdala. As the hippocampus reprocesses the traumatic memory or experience, we no longer feel as much fear. This reduction of fear during the reprocessing significantly reduces amygdala activation.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12115716
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11748597
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22622274
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10225499
EMDR Therapy: The Research
Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing emerged in the 1980s as a result of Francine Shapiro. However, it wasn’t immediately accepted by the mainstream as an effective treatment for trauma and other psychological disturbances. There is still some controversy in regards to whether it’s actually effective or nothing more than an anecdotal, placebo-esque hoax.
Evidence suggesting EMDR is effective
Below is some scientific evidence suggesting that EMDR is an effective intervention for PTSD and other negative life experiences.
2015: A publication in 2015 hypothesized the efficacy of EMDR for individuals involved in motor-vehicle accidents (MVAs). Those involved in motor vehicle accidents often experience PTSD and other negative emotion related to the experience. The post-traumatic stress resulting from the accident changes brain functioning.
The most notable neural alteration following an accident is the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). The anterior cingulate cortex was found to experience the most pronounced change based on findings from fMRI meta-analyses of individuals in accidents. EMDR is thought to elicit significant benefit by altering the limbic system and ultimately altering fear-mechanisms stemming from the anterior cingulate cortex.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25954183
2014: A study published in 2014 and authored by technique-creator Francine Shapiro highlighted EMDR’s clinical efficacy. This research evaluated 24 randomized, controlled trials suggesting that EMDR is beneficial for the treatment of emotional trauma and other adverse life experiences. In 10 studies comparing EMDR to trauma-focused cognitive therapy, EMDR was found to be more effective for treating emotional trauma.
Another 12 randomized studies of just the “eye movement” component discovered significant decreases in negative emotions as well as vividness of disturbing images. Other evidence suggested that EMDR provides relief from somatic symptoms (e.g. bodily sensations) related to the trauma. Shapiro’s analysis suggested that clinicians should consider EMDR as an efficient treatment for both psychological and physiological symptoms related to adverse life experiences.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951033/
2014: A study compared the efficacy of EMDR with Prolonged Exposure (PE) among 74 adult female rape victims. Both techniques were also compared to a control group. To gauge the degree of improvement from these interventions, PTSD was assessed by blind independent assessors.
It was determined that improvements in PTSD symptoms were most notable in those who completed EMDR therapy or Prolonged Exposure (PE). There was no significant difference in efficacy comparing EMDR to Prolonged Exposure. This provides more evidence in support of EMDR as a treatment for PTSD.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16382428
2012: A study published in 2012 compared the efficacy of EMDR to psychopharmacological therapy (psychotherapy + an SSRI) for the treatment of PTSD. Participants were separated randomly into groups: one group was treated with EMDR once per week, the other was treated with Sertraline (Zoloft) plus psychotherapy. Symptoms of PTSD were evaluated with the Clinician Assisted PTSD Scale (CAPS).
Results from the study confirmed previous findings that EMDR and Sertraline are clinically effective for reducing PTSD symptoms and subjectively reported levels of suffering. That said, the number of individuals that fully recovered from the PTSD diagnosis was significantly greater among those that were treated with EMDR. Researchers note that EMDR may be more effective than psychopharmacological therapy among those with PTSD.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22622278
2008: A condition associated with significant psychological trauma is losing a limb. Loss of a limb can result in a condition known as “phantom limb pain” during which an individual reports painful sensations where their missing limb exists. A 2008 report analyzed the effect of EMDR on the treatment of phantom limb pain.
This small-scale study incorporated 5 patients with phantom limb pain spanning from a period of 1 to 16 years. EMDR was utilized on an in-patient or out-patient basis for each of these 5 patients. Prior to treatment with EMDR, it was noted that all patients were taking medications to treat their phantom limb pain.
Between 3 and 15 sessions of EMDR were conducted as an intervention for the phantom limb pain. Researchers evaluated: medications, pain intensity/frequency, psychological trauma, and depression. Results from the study determined that EMDR significantly: decreased (or eliminated) phantom pain, reduced depression, reduced PTSD symptoms, and reduced (or eliminated) usage of medications.
Despite the fact that this was an extremely small-scale study, the significant improvements cannot be dismissed. Researchers suggest that the EMDR was successful as a result of its ability to target memory storage accompanied by pain sensations. By reprocessing memories related to the trauma, researchers speculate that this leads to significant symptomatic improvement.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18254770
2007: In a study published in 2007, the short-term efficacy and long-term benefit of EMDR was compared to a psychopharmacological intervention (an SSRI + psychotherapy). A total of 88 individuals diagnosed with PTSD (based on DSM-IV criteria) received 8 weeks of treatment. Some individuals received EMDR therapy, others received Fluoxetine (Prozac), and others received a placebo pill.
After 8 weeks of treatment, they were analyzed by a group of blind raters. These same raters evaluated patients at a 6-month follow up checkpoint. The Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) was administered to determine the short and long-term efficacy of the treatments, and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was used as a secondary measure.
Results of the study suggested that psychotherapy was significantly more effective than the Fluoxetine (pharmacological therapy) in achieving sustained reductions in both PTSD and depressive symptoms. However, the notable caveat was that the sustained benefit only occurred among adult-onset trauma survivors. At 6-month follow-ups, approximately 75% of adult-onset trauma survivors receiving EMDR were asymptomatic.
Among childhood-onset trauma survivors, only 33.3% receiving EMDR were asymptomatic. By comparison, none of the individuals receiving Fluoxetine were asymptomatic at 6-month follow-ups. The study suggests that EMDR is effective and can reduce both PTSD and depression better than pharmacological treatment among those with adult-onset trauma.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17284128
2001: A study published in 2001 analyzed 34 studies involving EMDR therapy. EMDR was found to be an effective treatment when compared with “no treatment” and “non-exposure” therapies. Despite the findings that EMDR was an effective treatment, it wasn’t found to be any more effective than other exposure techniques.
Furthermore, researchers compared success rates of the technique with “eye movement” and a revised version without the eye movement. They determined that the efficacy was the same, regardless of whether the technique incorporated the eye movements. Researchers concluded that the eye-movement portion of treatment may be unnecessary in regards to efficacy.
- Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11393607
Is there any evidence suggesting EMDR is ineffective?
For the treatment of PTSD, there’s a significant amount of evidence suggesting that EMDR is highly effective. In fact, EMDR is thought to be even more effective than first-line pharmaceutical options (e.g. an SSRI) in reducing symptoms of PTSD and depressive symptoms related to the trauma. While some studies suggest that certain components of the technique do not contribute to its efficacy (e.g. eye movements), the technique as a whole is scientifically supported.
That said, it is important to realize that like any intervention, EMDR may not work for everyone. There may be individuals with PTSD or negative memories that derive little or no benefit from the technique. Furthermore, it should not be assumed that EMDR is significantly more effective than other proven exposure interventions for the treatment of PTSD; they should be regarded as having equal efficacy.
Why you may want to try EMDR for PTSD…
There are a few obvious reasons why you may want to try EMDR for any sort of trauma or PTSD. Most notably, some studies suggest that EMDR is superior in efficacy to medication for treating trauma, especially if the traumatic experience was endured as an adult. Additionally the treatment is relatively low-risk and targets the root of the problem, rather than acting as a pharmaceutical “patch” (e.g. SSRI).
- Low risk: The risk associated with trying EMDR is extremely low. You aren’t shoveling pills down your throat, you don’t have to worry about dangerous side effects, and you won’t go through withdrawals. The only risk associated with this treatment is revisiting repressed memories and perhaps emotional upheavals – both of which are usually necessary for healing.
- May help a little: Some people may find that EMDR gives them a little benefit, but nothing substantial. In the case of PTSD, even a little bit of benefit can be a step in the right direction. Sometimes a “little” benefit may mean the difference between having a few “good days” per week versus all “bad days.”
- May help a lot: Other individuals will experience such a profound change as a result of EMDR therapy, that they feel like a completely new person after therapy. Many people are skeptical prior to their treatment and don’t believe that it’s going to help. After treatment commences, they feel significantly better and may no longer fit diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
- Clinical efficacy: If you are determined to overcome PTSD, this is a proven way to do it. Many people end up fully recovering or have minimal symptoms compared to they did pre-treatment. The clinical efficacy for EMDR is well-established and evidence in support of this therapy continues to accumulate.
- Another tool/adjunct: Those with severe PTSD will want to throw “everything but the kitchen sink” at their problem to improve their ability to function and performance. Impaired function including: social impairment, cognitive impairment, and occupational impairment – are all too common among PTSD sufferers. Giving EMDR a legitimate shot could end up making a significant difference in your prognosis.
Potential drawbacks of EMDR
There are several potential drawbacks associated with EMDR. These drawbacks should be considered before engaging in treatment.
- Seizures: Although experiencing seizures as a result of EMDR is extremely rare, it is possible. Those who are susceptible to seizures may want to consider the fact that rapid-eye movement, especially when accompanied with bright pulsing lights – may trigger a seizure.
- Trauma: All repressed memories and associated emotions may be brought to the forefront of your consciousness during EMDR. This may result in emotional upheavals and extreme discomfort. If you are not prepared to overcome this trauma, you may be tempted to throw in the towel and quit the EMDR therapy.
- Feeling worse: Quitting EMDR without finishing may leave you feeling worse than before you started. In other cases, you may even finish the EMDR and end up feeling worse as a result of revisiting your trauma. If the EMDR doesn’t desensitize you to the trauma and/or help you reprocess it, you may walk away from the therapy feeling worse; this is considered rare.
- Waste of money and time: Those that don’t derive any significant benefit from EMDR may feel as if they’ve wasted a lot of money and time. It can take a long time for you to complete all eight phases of therapy. Even after you are complete, you may need to revisit certain portions of the therapy if you fail to experience improvement. Those that don’t respond well to the technique may feel as if they’ve been scammed.
Personal Experience with EMDR
In 2006, I worked with a psychotherapist licensed to conduct EMDR. At the time, she was adamant about me trying EMDR and we followed the 8-steps. She gave me a bunch of paperwork, but I honestly didn’t read it, so didn’t know what to expect. I was highly skeptical of the technique and since it didn’t involve swallowing a pill, an injection, or hooking electrodes up to my brain – I remained highly skeptical.
Over time, we established a good rapport and she gradually helped me reduce activation of my sympathetic nervous system or “fight-or-flight” response. For me, I believe that the single most important aspect of the EMDR was the psychotherapy along with the suggested relaxation techniques. When I reached the phase of the “pulsing lights” moving back and forth, I actually enjoyed the experience.
Revisiting the trauma helped significantly, and the technique provided me with some degree of benefit. It didn’t cure my PTSD – overcoming it required several more years worth of effort without any further EMDR. However, EMDR did help lessen the psychological distress associated with the traumatic memory.
To say that EMDR did nothing would be shortsighted, but to suggest that it was super effective is an exaggeration. My therapist and CBT helped significantly more than the EMDR technique, but I don’t regret going through the process. I like to think of EMDR as another tool for promoting recovery and healing.
Conditions that may benefit from EMDR
Below is a list of conditions that may benefit from Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
- PTSD: Most evidence suggests that EMDR is highly effective for the treatment of PTSD.
- Anxiety disorders: Certain types of anxiety disorders may also benefit from EMDR.
- Panic disorders: Individuals with panic attacks may find that EMDR reduces the number of panic attacks they experience or the intensity of the panic.
- Public-speaking anxiety: Some researchers believe that EMDR may even help individuals with anxiety related to public speaking.
Have you tried EMDR?
If you have experience with Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), feel free to share your experience. Mention whether you noticed significant benefit, found it to be ineffective, or whether it may have made things worse (another possibility). If you’d like, you could also compare EMDR to other interventions and mention how they compared in regards to efficacy.
For those that derived benefit from EMDR, how can you be sure that it was in fact the technique or another variable such as psychotherapy? To help others better understand your experience, mention how long the EMDR process took (e.g. number of sessions). Understand that some people may get significant benefit from this technique and most scientific evidence highlights its efficacy over a placebo.