eye movement) sleep.
"What causes negative thinking?" TOP
The first time we experience something our brain creates a schema or template of that experience and filters all related experiences that follow through that template. If the first experience is unhealthy or negative, then the template that is created will also be unhealthy, which will in turn cause every following experience to be filtered through in an unhealthy way.
“So can’t I just take drugs to correct my negative thinking?” TOP
That is obviously one option, but it has some clear disadvantages--the biggest one being simply that unless you restore your body’s ability to self-regulate brain chemistry properly on its own, you’re stuck taking the drugs the rest of your life.
“Ok, so what’s a better option?” TOP
EMDR is effective for changing emotional reactions, negative thought patterns, and entrenched habits (and often times even physical discomfort) that people can’t just “think themselves out of.” EMDR has given us the ability to essentially reverse all those negative patterns that have developed in your brain, body, and nervous system.
EMDR involves something called “bilateral stimulation”--which just means “two-sided stimulation.” You probably know that your brain has a right hemisphere and a left hemisphere and that each side of your body is “hard-wired” to a specific side of your brain. Creating a rhythmic, back and forth stimulation of each hemisphere of the brain seems to stimulate something we call the “information processing system” to go into a highly accelerated mode of functioning--which is exactly the treatment effect we have to create to get the results we’re after. There are different methods that have been developed for creating the “bilateral stimulation” effect, I usually use visual (eye movements) or a tactile method (tapping).
The end result of EMDR treatment is to reduce and eliminate negative thoughts & feelings, to increase and strengthen positive thoughts and feelings, and to enable you to really be at your best in your everyday life.
“Can EMDR help me or someone I know?” TOP
EMDR has been shown to be helpful in resolving many kinds of trauma and anxiety based symptoms including intrusive thoughts, panic, phobias, painful sensations, and emotional distress including excessive guilt, anger, grief and fear, recurring nightmares and such behavioral symptoms as avoiding formerly enjoyable activities.
Many adult, adolescent, and child survivors of single incident traumas, multiple traumas, and of childhood abuse have responded positively to EMDR treatment. Victims of crime, combat veterans, and survivors of disasters have all benefited from EMDR treatment.
"What symptoms/problems can EMDR help?" TOP
*Chronic, Severe Depression & Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depression)
*Panic Disorder, Phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder, & Generalized Anxiety Disorder
*Low Self Esteem, Lack of Assertiveness, Difficulty Making Decisions,
*Anger Problems & Stress Management Issues
*Grief & Loss
*Eating Disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia, Compulsive Overeating) & Other Body
*Sexual Addictions & Other Addictive/Compulsive Behavior Problems
*Substance Abuse/Chemical Addiction (including Smoking Cessation)
*Weight Problems, Sleep Problems (insomnia, nightmares, sleepwalking), Headaches/Migraines, Teeth-Grinding
*Skin Conditions (acne, eczema, hives), Allergies, & Asthma
*Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, & Other Life-Challenging Illnesses & Injuries
*Male & Female Sexual Dysfunction
Child & Adolescent Issues:
Behavioral & Emotional Problems, ADD/ADHD, School Performance
Couples Issues, Marital Conflict, Trust & Intimacy Issues
Peak Performance / Personal Success:
Business, Sales, Life
“How long will treatment take?” TOP
Studies show that PTSD related symptoms from a single traumatic incident can often be resolved in a total of three to six sessions. This includes sessions for history taking, treatment planning, preparation, and reevaluation. Treatment for survivors of multiple traumas will take longer. Survivors of prolonged trauma such as combat trauma and persistent childhood neglect and abuse have also been shown to benefit from psychotherapy with EMDR, but to achieve comprehensive improvements, more lengthy treatment will be needed. Your EMDR psychotherapist can often give you an estimate of the anticipated length of treatment after the first two or three visits. Published reports indicate when longer treatment is needed, use of EMDR may significantly shorten the total number of sessions needed.
"What happens in an EMDR session?" TOP
The therapist works gently with the patient, asking them to revisit a traumatic memory or incident, recalling feelings surrounding the experience, including any negative thoughts, sensations, and images. The therapist uses their fingers to make horizontal movements from side to side. The patient is instructed to track the movements with their eyes, while concentrating on a memory. This is done in multiple sets. The more intensely the patient focuses on the memory, the easier it becomes for the memory to come to life. As quick and vibrant images arise during the therapy session, they are processed by the eye movements, resulting in painful feelings being exchanged for a deep sense of resolution. People usually have fewer unnecessary fears or anxieties and feel better following EMDR. EMDR is not hypnosis. Patients are fully awake and in control during EMDR sessions.
“How does EMDR work?” TOP
It appears that this method unlocks and accesses valuable information stored in the brain. The negative states that typically inhibit optimal physical, mental, and emotional functioning are often the direct result of the cumulative effects of stress over time. Results of recent research show that stress damages several different neuro-biological processes, resulting in negative alterations to brain chemistry and the blocking of information processing.
EMDR seems to actually accelerate information processing and reverse, resolve, and eliminate the cumulative effects of stress--producing a healthier emotional balance, more constructive thinking patterns, more positive belief systems, and new awarenesses and insights that further improve the client’s functioning in the future. In fact, many clients who had at one time depended on antidepressant medication are able to eliminate their need for these drugs.
The Adaptive Information Processing model developed by Dr. Shapiro proposes that EMDR stimulates an intrinsic human capacity for adapting to and learning from new and stressful life experiences which normally operates during the rapid eye movement (dreaming) phase of sleep. Research shows consolidation of emotional learning takes place during REM, also known as paradoxical sleep. Some theorists propose that EMDR may catalyze this innate capacity to resolve disturbance by focusing on a traumatic memory and deliberately engaging eye movements perhaps by the same type of neurological processes active in REM sleep.
“Is EMDR like hypnosis?” TOP
No, EMDR is very different than hypnosis in three important ways:
- In EMDR you don’t go into any kind of “altered state”--you’re totally aware of what’s going on, you’re totally in control of the process, and it’s nothing that somebody is doing to you--it’s your brain that’s doing the work; the EMDR is simply a catalyst for speeding up the benefits you get from psychotherapy.
- EMDR does not have the capacity to create false memories.
- EMDR is not at all dependent on the placebo effect--in other words, somebody can be totally convinced that it’s not going to work and it still works just as well, because it’s purely a biophysical process (it’s the biggest skeptics that I have the most fun with when we first start doing EMDR, because they’re the most surprised at how well it works!).
“If EMDR is so great, why have I never heard of it before?” TOP
EMDR has actually received a great deal of media attention the last few years. Segments have been run on shows like Dateline and 20/20 spotlighting the extraordinary speed and effectiveness of EMDR. The truth is, though, that no psychotherapy method could ever compete with the millions of advertising dollars spent each year by pharmaceutical companies marketing their drugs to doctors and the general public.
“So how quickly can I expect to reach my treatment goals?” TOP
That depends on a number of variables unique to your own personal situation, but here are some generalities:
From what I’ve seen in working with clients, people seem to progress about four times as fast with EMDR than with any other form of treatment I’ve ever seen.
After our first actual EMDR session, I’ll be able to answer that question a lot more specifically, because I should have a pretty clear indication of how rapidly your body and nervous system are responding. That’s one thing I really like about EMDR--the changes occur so rapidly that most people start noticing positive benefits right from the very first session.
You can speed up the pace of our progress by sticking as closely as possible to the Lifestyle guidelines I gave you--getting on a consistent sleep schedule, using the abdominal breathing, getting a little exercise everyday, drinking lots of water, eating “clean,” controlling carbohydrate intake, avoiding use of chemical depressants (like alcohol and marijuana), and restricting use of chemical stimulants (like caffeine & nicotine).
“Can you get me off my meds?” TOP
I never make any promises, but so far I’ve had great success in helping people reduce and often eliminate their need for antidepressants, anxiety meds, and ADD meds.
“Could our EMDR work accidentally change something I don’t really want to change?”
No. The really interesting thing about your brain is that it came “pre-programmed” to automatically do what you want it to do--it just has to be stimulated correctly! EMDR seems to help your brain get rid of what you don’t want and need, and actually strengthen what you do want and need. It will not take away anything useful for you, and it will not change anything you don’t want to change (I often have parents bringing their teenagers to me asking me to use EMDR to change this or that, and I have to break the news to them that unless their son or daughter wants to change, it doesn’t really work like that!).
"Can EMDR change something I don't really want to change?" TOP
No, the really interesting thing about your brain is that it came "pre-programmed" to automatically do what you want it to do--it just has to be stimulated correctly! EMDR seems to help your brain get rid of what you don't want and need, and actually strengthen what you do want and need. It will not take away anything useful for you, and it will not change anything you don't want to change (I often have parents bringing their teenagers to me asking me to use EMDR to change this or that, and I have to break the news to them that unless their son or daughter wants to change, it doesn't really work like that!).
“Are there any possible negative side effects of EMDR treatment?" TOP
Only two that anybody’s been able to identify:
- EMDR has a tendency to make bad memories seem very distant or unclear, so if we’re dealing with something you’re going to have to testify about in court, we’re going to want to talk to your attorney about the possible implications of your treatment (you may end up being a lousy witness!).
- EMDR has the ability to bring back a memory strongly enough so that you may momentarily have the same intensity of emotion that you had at the time the event was occurring. Because of the way I use EMDR very strategically, this happens very rarely with my clients--the vast majority of them find our work to be very gentle, calming, and relaxing. If it were to occur, I would always take the time to help you get to a better place with it before you leave my office--my goal is to always leave people walking out feeling better than when they walked in!
The possibility, though, does bring up three important issues:
- It’s extremely important that during our history-taking that you tell me about any significant traumas you’ve experienced.
- If you are in recovery for any form of addiction and “strong feelings” are one of your triggers, I would encourage you to be very aggressive about “working your program” and make sure you have a good relapse prevention plan in place.
- If you have any fears or concerns about getting “overwhelmed” by feelings, please let me know about this and before we even start our EMDR work I’ll give you some “emotional management” tools so you don’t have to be afraid of feeling your feelings anymore.
"How does EMDR help with Coaching?" TOP
Coaches and Consultants who use EMDR point to four key distinctions between EMDR and traditional forms of “verbal” coaching: “Effectiveness, Efficiency, Ease of Benefit, & Enduring Permanence.” EMDR is not just “thinking yourself into acting & feeling better,” but rather a process of actually stimulating the client’s own brain and central nervous system to function at a much higher capacity.
The results of this is that EMDR has proven to be extremely effective in treating even the most difficult issues in an extraordinarily short amount of time--translating into reduced costs for the client and company. Many clients also find EMDR easier to benefit from, in that it does not require the disciplined mental “work” of most conventional approaches to personal development. Additionally, the changes produced by the EMDR process really seem to “stick,” and don’t require ongoing “conditioning” like “verbal” coaching does.
“How well researched and scientifically proven is EMDR?” TOP
EMDR has been the subject of more controlled research than all other treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) combined. A total of 15 controlled studies have been completed in University, Veterans Administration, HMO and other settings.
EMDR has been found to be more rapid, efficient or comprehensive in treating trauma based symptoms than behavioral therapy, biofeedback, active listening or standard cognitive and analytic treatments. EMDR is recognized as an empirically validated method by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
EMDR is endorsed by the American Red Cross, the FBI, the International Critical Incident Stress Management Foundation, and major HMO’s such as Kaiser and Value Options.
EMDR was used extensively to treat survivors in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, and in New York after 9-11.
EMDR is the most researched psychotherapy method for PTSD and there are more controlled studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of EMDR in the treatment of PTSD than any other method.
As of 2002, more than 20 controlled outcome studies of EMDR have already been published and/or presented. These studies all found EMDR superior to the control condition on measures of PTSD, with EMDR using fewer treatment sessions to achieve effects. Follow up studies at intervals up to 5 years after treatment have indicated a high level of maintenance of treatment effects.
EMDR is on the American Psychological Association Division of Clinical Psychology’s list of empirically validated methods. Only two other methods are even on this list for the treatment of PTSD.
The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies has stated that EMDR is an “effective treatment.”
The United Kingdom Department of Health has listed EMDR as an effective treatment.
EMDR courses are being taught in over 30 colleges and universities, and it is part of the standard treatment in many VA hospitals.
David V. Baldwin, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist in Eugene, Oregon (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) has compiled a current list of published journal articles on EMDR. As of 2001 he already had 238 articles on his list.
“Who can provide EMDR treatment?” TOP
To be sure a psychotherapist has appropriate training and experience in EMDR verify they have completed both Level I and Level II basic training approved by EMDR International Association (EMDRIA). EMDR is offered only within the safety of a therapeutic relationship and the stability a comprehensive treatment plan.
“Why do you like EMDR so much?” TOP
Prior to being trained in EMDR, I had already spent many years doing traditional “cognitive-behavioral” therapy. Simply put, I’ve just never seen anything that works as rapidly, effectively, easily, and permanently as EMDR.
"How Do I find out more?" TOP
Contact Serene R. Bailey, MA, LPC, LMFT, EMDRIA approved Level II training, to ask questions or to schedule an appointment.
You can also learn more by visiting the EMDR website.