Trauma therapy with EMDR is safe and effective (Reason #3): It really works!


EMDR works, and most often in my experience produces a total cure, which is to say, a total absence of all PTSD symptoms, including anxiety and depression. Clients can even think directly of previously traumatic events not only without disturbance, but with feelings of relief and strength!

I can make this bold claim based on real events. A man last year completed EMDR treatment with me. He arrived in an emotionally disorganized state, anxious and tearful, having lived with symptoms of abuse across the lifespan, including rape, psychological abuse as a child, a horrific car accident, traumatic loss of a loved one--six separate events in total. He had flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, the works. Even when considered separately, the symptoms related to each event were so severe that each event alone qualified him for a PTSD diagnosis. This is what we call complex PTSD. In fact, four out of six of the events had more than double the score needed to diagnose PTSD (as measured by the IES-R, a written test). This man underwent EMDR treatment, and in total, seven EMDR reprocessing sessions were required to entirely relieve him of every single symptom related to the trauma, including the removal of any disturbance when thinking about them intentionally. This is a complete cure.

Why did this work so well and require so little EMDR reprocessing of the trauma? Well, he felt totally safe for one thing, because I actually spent more sessions preparing him than I did treating him (eight to be exact). As well, when he had a life event come up that required its own therapy, we put trauma therapy on hold until the issue was resolved. In all, therefore, the total number of sessions came to 19. That's under 4 months to resolve more than 40 years of disturbing symptoms of the worst sort, including terrible false guilt and nearly no self-esteem.

Additionally, he took an active role in his preparations, completing homework assignments with good fidelity. And yes, life happened and he had to cancel a few sessions here and there. But overall, his attitude was open to the possibility I introduced, which was that his own mind's God-given healing systems could be re-started with EMDR to reprocess "stuck" traumatic memories in a manner that would relieve him of his symptoms. He didn't even have to trust me, really, because once he saw the initial results, he didn't need any more proof.

Is this a typical case? No case is typical. But it is similar to the outcomes I have seen in other cases, sometimes worse cases. The mind is both a fragile and powerful creation, so easily injured yet so full of resources for healing--a beautiful creation.