Massive scientific study proves EMDR is effective for trauma/abuse/PTSD, depression, anxiety, and mo
Fairly recently, a huge "study of studies" (26 of them to be exact), presented undeniable evidence that EMDR is an effective treatment for PTSD, as well as many other symptoms that often accompany trauma (anxiety, depression, poor self-image, etc.). Here is the link to the study (click here).
As you may already know from visiting my webpage, I am trained in EMDR trauma therapy. EMDR is a revolutionary technique that heals wounds from childhood abuse, combat trauma, and sexual assault. Unlike traditional "talk therapies," EMDR acknowledges that it's really difficult to get to the heart through the head.
Here are some quotes from the study cited above:
"PTSD patients cannot properly manage their negative experiences or memories. EMDR therapy [...] enables PTSD patients to create adaptive connections to integrate negative experiences with positive emotions and cognitions, thereby significantly improving PTSD symptoms."
In other words, EMDR draws on emotion surrounding traumatic experiences to connect the heart to the head! Here's another quote:
"These results suggest that EMDR therapy can improve self-awareness in patients, change their beliefs and behaviors, reduce anxiety and depression, and lead to positive emotions."
In other words, EMDR does not merely desensitize a client to traumatic memories, but reworks the entire way the client thinks about the trauma.
So how does EMDR work, if it's not a talk therapy? The client is asked to recall, or "notice" (not re-live) thoughts and emotions related to the traumatic event, in a specific, safe manner, while being guided in moving their eyes back and forth at a rapid rate. Sound odd? It sure is, but as seen above, it works. The dominant explanation for why it works is that:
1) Some research indicates that we process difficult memories while we sleep, specifically in the "Rapid Eye Movement" stage of sleep. People deprived of this stage of sleep start to act like people who have been abused.
2) Trauma hijacks this natural healing process by overloading the primitive "fight-or-flight" part of the brain, which has no sense of time. These overloaded memories cannot fully pass to the part of the brain that dreams and makes sense of the world. Instead, the memories are stuck in time.
3) "Stuck" memories (traumatic memories) continue to produce symptoms such as hypervigilance, flashbacks, irritability, and hopelessness, because the brain has no reason to believe that the traumatic event is over. It's stuck.
4) EMDR uses rapid eye movements while rehearsing emotions and thoughts (even bodily sensations) to "kick the log so the river can flow." The brain is freed to process the traumatic memory, as it was meant to do when the trauma happened, but could not.
5) Safety measures and coping skills worked into the EMDR process ensure a safe, tolerable, and often fast experience of healing. No aspect of hypnosis or therapist control is involved. In fact, the client's experience of self-healing is powerfully positive and builds confidence. Under no circumstances is the client asked to "re-live" the trauma.
I would like to point out that one very important finding of the study was that the experience, training, and talent of the EMDR practitioner is critical to success. I use EMDR because it feels natural to me, and I see results. Additionally, I am currently in the formal process of being trained at an expert level, which takes a number of years.
If you or a loved one has mental health issues, and is a victim of trauma, give me a call. EMDR treatment could be your life's turning point.