EMDR Therapy

Discussion in 'Life After Scientology' started by Adam7986, Aug 18, 2015.

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  1. Adam7986

    Adam7986 Declared SP

    My psychologist started me on this form of therapy called EMDR. I had never heard of it before the psychologist I was seeing in Austin mentioned it to me. Because of the organized nature of the therapy, and the focus on remembering past traumas, I was actually nervous about it. When the psychologist I am seeing now in LA brought it up, I experienced the same reluctance. He was a little bit more insistent though, and so I agreed to try it out. This is the first time that I have encountered a form of therapy that reminded me so much of Scientology that it made me afraid to even think about doing it.

    First he started by asking me about my traumatic past, and we talked about some of the things I experienced in the Sea Org and before. I kept having to remind myself that this isn't Scientology, this isn't a sec check, this isn't Dianetics. Despite many, many similarities. He asked me for a specific memory that seemed to encapsulate the whole of the traumatic experience in the Sea Org and then asked me some questions about it. He did a quick subjective, number-based assessment of how the memory affected me in various ways, and asked me in what part of my body I was experiencing sensations related to the disturbance. It was all so Scientology-esque that I was terrified of what I was walking in to.

    Then we did the actual therapy. It consists of about 45 minutes of watching a ball bounce back and forth on a screen and focusing on memories of the traumatic experience. My doctor explained to me that there is a specific series of steps in the brain that each memory travels through in order to be properly imprinted. When a memory is being recorded amidst a traumatic experience, that memory skips the normal channels and is recorded in such a way that it negatively affects a person. I am telling you the deeper I got into it, the more afraid I was that I was walking into a Scientology session.

    I kept all that fear at bay and I sat down in the chair to watch the ball bounce across the computer screen. Shockingly, it has helped a lot to relieve the negative emotions I have been holding on to around my experience in Scientology. In fact it has helped me deal with my father specifically, and the hateful emotions I have had attached to my memories of him. It helped me to more clearly remember parts of my life that I closed the book on long ago because I couldn't deal.

    The therapy is absolutely fascinating. It is unfortunate that Hubbard mimicked the ideas in his own demented way, but I am glad that I was able to set aside my apprehension and engage in the therapy. It has done more for me in the last 3 or 4 sessions than auditing ever did. When I am done, I don't feel like I was in a trance, or like I am waking up from a dream. There's no commands that the therapist gives me. I just watch the ball and let my mind wander through my traumatic experiences.

    What do you think about this?

    Has anyone else ever tried this therapy before?

  2. La La Lou Lou

    La La Lou Lou Crusader

    I have never heard of this before.

    How effective do you feel it has been?

    I have had some person centred counselling which I found very useful. The counsellor watches for indicators and it's like being in session without the usual LFBD, forced cogs and manic laughter. I certainly found it much better than auditing for relief.
  3. George Layton

    George Layton Silver Meritorious Patron

    I wonder if this sort of therapy would be helpful in another environment and what differences in those responses would be if you went through the mental/causal steps of the therapy while sitting at a lake watching the waterfowl movement and vegetation sway in the breeze.
  4. MrNobody

    MrNobody Who needs merits?

    Due to heath reasons (my eyes sometimes go temporarily blind, when I stress 'em too much), this specific therapy form would probably not be the best one for me, but the theory behind it makes some sense to me. Here's why:

    I've often worked in factories, performing the same hand movement, sometimes more than 1000 times per hour. At 1st I have to do the movements consciously, but after a few hours, they are internalized and then my body performs 'em on "autopilot". When I'm in that "autopilot" mode, my body performs the work while I can let my thoughts run completely free. I can think about an issue which deeply moves me, think and re-think and re-think again, until I've found a position from where I can either solve it or comfortably live with it.

    Does that make sense?

    Anyway, when you've found something helpful for you, congratulations and more power to you. Also congratulations for overcoming your initial fears. :thumbsup:
  5. degraded being

    degraded being Sponsor


    I'm not a psychologist but:

    Watching a ball on screen might cause a sort of 'positive disassociation.

    I think that sort of disassociation, while talking about past trauma, has been discussed on ESMB in the past. I am not talking about a negative type of dissociation, but one which is used specifically so that a person talking about past trauma does not "go into" it but remains cognitively "separate", and that this allows better processing of thoughts to take place. I think that principle works, because I had a bit of therapy based on that principle of 'staying separate' and it worked really well AFAICT. (It was nothing to do with scientology and very unlike dianetics or scientology.

    I think that concentrating on a ball on a screen might have the effect of keeping a person from going "into" the things they are talking about.

    I also have a theory about doing something physical while thinking about problems, trauma, etc. I think that tapping, or moving the body in some way, even the eyes? in a deliberate way, keeps parts of the brain involved, that would be much less involved, if a person was just thinking and talking and not deliberately doing something physical. My theory is that this means that a better type of thought and emotion processing takes place. I believe in this very strongly as a theory for reasons I am too lazy to write an essay about right now.

    I believe that parts of the brain that "hold the trauma" are not necessarily the more intellectual parts, but can sometimes be parts which control physical movement and automatic physical processes, such a flight-or fight reactions which are felt as anxiety etc, and so purely intellectual methods of reducing trauma, talking, thinking, etc, might be limited sometimes or a lot of the time, whereas getting the body involved, or the more body-controlling brain centres might be a lot more effective.
    Just my theory - or someone else's theories that i have absorbed.
  6. Lone Star

    Lone Star Crusader

    I have heard of EMDR before. Several years ago my Mother told me of a friend of her's who had experienced it with her therapist. She was very pleased with the results. I think it's fairly popular in Austin.

    I'm glad that you, Derek, overcame your understandable apprehension and gave it a go. Hope it keeps helping you!
  7. Adam7986

    Adam7986 Declared SP

    You make a good point, about the "VGIs" of auditing. I have never experienced that in therapy. In fact, it's normal and not uncommon for me to go home at night and cry in my bed over the issues that come up during therapy. Without being "red flagged" or sent to ethics for NCG. Negative emotions are as much a part of the healing process as positive ones are.

    I was very skeptical about it at first, but this last time I did it, I started to feel some of the emotional distress surrounding the complex relationship I have with my dad resolving. In fact, I found myself coming to understand him and even empathize with him. Considering that in the past the simple thought of my father's face (even to the point of seeing his resemblance in my own face in the mirror) would cause me to shut down, I think that is a huge leap in only a matter of a few hours of therapy. It's absolutely incredible, but in a realistic way. Not in the "omg i feel like I can travel to the moon as a static theta being" way.
  8. Adam7986

    Adam7986 Declared SP

    When I do it in my therapist's office, we turn the lights off and he sits away from me holding a wireless keyboard to control the program on his computer. There have been a lot of studies done, and in fact I can testify to the effectiveness of this form of treatment.

  9. Adam7986

    Adam7986 Declared SP

    There are other methods of bilateral stimulation that can be used, if you have issues with your eyes and you choose to try it. The idea is to stimulate both sides of the brain at the same time that you are thinking of the memory and allow the memory to be assimilated properly. There's a theory behind it. Granted I am taking this all from one website, so take it with a grain of salt. It might turn out to be complete BS and just another placebo. But, I took the dive and decided to try it out and it seems to be effective, placebo or not.

    The autopilot sensation that you are talking about is my favorite part about taking long road trips alone. I love self-exploration and that is the best time to do it.
  10. FlunkYou

    FlunkYou Patron with Honors

    Sounded a bit like EEG therapy at first, but this is different.

    I tried the EEG therapy with no noticeable gains. In fact at the beginning of it, they give you a test on some handheld device that like a Simon says, I was slower after the therapy which wasn't supposed to happen. :ohmy:

    Good luck to you and keep us informed of your progress!!
  11. JustSheila

    JustSheila Crusader

    Dr. Francine Shapiro, who came up with EMDR Therapy, is a big name in Psychology research. She is highly respected as a thorough researcher with a professional clinical approach and wrote dozens or more enlightening research articles over the last 15 years. This sounds like a sound therapy approach and with Shapiro's reputation, I would imagine the technique is based on extensive similar research and models from others to support its theory and safety. Shapiro isn't some sort of wild, lone wolf type of doctor. She's meticulous and trustworthy as far as following guidelines to ensure any methods used are safe for participants and her research is sound.

    If you'd like to read more about her stuff, go to your local library and ask for access to her research through the Psychology articles. Libraries have access to research and you can search her or the articles that led to EMDR Therapy that she would have referenced (there will be a lot of them).

    It sounds really cool! I'd never heard of it before and I'm fascinated. I'm glad to hear you're doing well with it, Adam. :) I'd love to hear more about it as you get on with your sessions, if it's something you feel like writing about, that is. Good for you! :grouphug:
  12. MrNobody

    MrNobody Who needs merits?

    I stopped reading that EEG page after this piece of bullshit:

    The EEG is just what little of the brain activity the EEG device can catch and by no means a reliable indicator of the overall brain activity. That's why more detailed methods and diagnostic devices exist, e.g. AEP, VEP and other evoked potentials.
  13. degraded being

    degraded being Sponsor

    There have been questions and criticisms though, from professionals as well as non professionals.
  14. MrNobody

    MrNobody Who needs merits?

    Letting your body run on "autopilot" in traffic is a bad idea. I know what I'm taking about. :coolwink: One time, I literally woke up on the wrong side of the Autobahn, the other time I wok up in a town 50 miles away from where I wanted to go. 2 lengthy stories I'm not willing to tell ATM, because it's really time for me to go to bed, now. :)

  15. myrklix

    myrklix Patron with Honors

    I've heard about EMDR through my wife who is a psychotherapist. It seems there are several in the Boston area. Many people have had a very positive experience with it though, as with any therapeutic modality, it's not going to going to be for everyone. If it's working well for you, Adam7986, go for it. I'm glad to hear you've benefitted from it. From what I've read it has been used for PTSD (Sea Org, RPF anyone?). Any method is going to have its proponents and critics. I guess each must evaluate for oneself.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
  16. JustSheila

    JustSheila Crusader

    I would hope so and hope comments and opinions from other professionals continue. It's not 100% effective and doesn't claim to be, either. Some apparently don't get much out of it, while others do very well. But I've seen her name on research since at least the 80s and have come to personally respect her for fair and mentally safe, clinically sound research procedures. She plays by the book - people aren't lab rats to her, and I'd personally be pretty comfortable trying something she came up. I might or might not get much out of it, but it wouldn't hurt me, either.

    Not at all like being one of Hubbard's lab rats while he researched the inside of his own demented psychopathy through us.
  17. drpattijane

    drpattijane New Member

    As a recently retired psychologist, I used EMDR therapy as my primary psychotherapy treatment and I've also personally had EMDR therapy for anxiety, panic, grief, and “small t” trauma. As a client, EMDR worked extremely well and also really fast. As an EMDR therapist, and in my (now retired) role as a facilitator who trained other therapists in EMDR therapy (certified by the EMDR International Association and trained by the EMDR Institute, both of which I strongly recommend in an EMDR therapist) I have used EMDR therapy successfully with panic disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression, grief, body image, phobias, distressing memories, bad dreams, and many other problems. It's a very gentle method with no significant "down-side" so that in the hands of a professional EMDR therapist, there should be no freak-outs or worsening of day-to-day functioning.

    I can certainly understand your concern, Adam7986, that ANY therapy (or anything!) is somehow evocative of Scientology's methods and beliefs. However, in my 20+ years as an EMDR therapist, and 40+ years as a psychologist, I strongly believe that all good and effective psychotherapy must be a true joint effort between "peers" with no one in a "power-over" role. So keep your critical mind alert, and give voice to your concerns any time, and all the time, with your therapist! From your description of your session, it sounds like your therapist started right in on EMDR processing, without doing the preparation work. This phase is essential!

    One of the initial phases (Phase 2) in EMDR therapy involves preparing for memory processing or desensitization (memory processing or desensitization - phases 3-6 - is often what is referred to as "EMDR" which is actually an 8-phase method of psychotherapy). In this phase resources are "front-loaded" so that you have a "floor" or "container" to help with processing the really hard stuff, as well as creating strategies if you're triggered in everyday life. In Phase 2 you learn a lot of great coping strategies and self-soothing techniques which you can use during EMDR processing or anytime you feel the need.

    In phase 2 you learn how to access a “Safe or Calm Place” which you can use at ANY TIME during EMDR processing (or on your own) if it feels scary, or too emotional, too intense. One of the key assets of EMDR therapy is that YOU, the client, are in control NOW, even though you weren’t in the past, during traumatic events and/or panic/anxiety, or whatever disturbance(s) on which you’re working. You NEVER need re-live an experience or go into great detail, ever! You NEVER need to go through the entire memory. YOU can decide to keep the lights (or the alternating sounds and/or tactile pulsars, or the waving hand, or any method of bilateral stimulation that feels okay to you) going, or stop them, whichever helps titrate – measure and adjust the balance or “dose“ of the processing. During EMDR processing there are regular “breaks” and you can control when and how many but the therapist should be stopping the bilateral stimulation every 25-50 passes of the lights to ask you to take a deep breath and say just a bit of what you’re noticing, anything different, any changes. (The stimulation should not be kept on continuously, because there are specific procedures that need to be followed to process the memory). The breaks help keep a “foot in the present” while you’re processing the past. Again, and I can’t say this enough, YOU ARE IN CHARGE so YOU can make the process tolerable. And your therapist should be experienced in the EMDR therapy techniques that help make it the gentlest and safest way to detoxify bad life experiences and build resources.

    Grounding exercises are essential. You can use some of the techniques in Dr. Shapiro's new book "Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR." Dr. Shapiro is the founder/creator of EMDR but all the proceeds from the book go to two charities: the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program and the EMDR Research Foundation). The book is an easy read, helps you understand what's "pushing" your feelings and behavior, helps you connect the dots from past experiences to current life. Also gives lots of really helpful ways that are used during EMDR therapy to calm disturbing thoughts and feelings.

    Pacing and dosing are critically important. So if you ever feel that EMDR processing is too intense then it might be time to go back over all the resources that should be used both IN session and BETWEEN sessions.

    Many organizations, professional associations, departments of health of many countries, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the US Dept. of Defense, and the VA, all have given their "stamp of approval" to EMDR therapy. There are 35 randomized controlled (and 20 nonrandomized) studies that have been conducted on EMDR therapy in the treatment of trauma, and many more on other psychological and physical conditions. The research on EMDR therapy, in addition to that on trauma and PTSD, includes its efficacy with generalized anxiety disorder, treatment of distressful experiences that fail to meet the criteria for PTSD, dental phobia, depression, body dysmorphic disorder, chronic phantom limb pain, panic disorder with agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and peer verbal abuse.

    The World Health Organization has published Guidelines for the management of conditions that are specifically related to stress: Trauma-focused CBT and EMDR are the only psychotherapies recommended for children, adolescents and adults with PTSD. “Like CBT with a trauma focus, EMDR aims to reduce subjective distress and strengthen adaptive cognitions related to the traumatic event. Unlike CBT with a trauma focus, EMDR does not involve (a) detailed descriptions of the event, (b) direct challenging of beliefs, (c) extended exposure, or (d) homework." (Geneva, WHO, 2013, p.1)
  18. Cat's Squirrel

    Cat's Squirrel Gold Meritorious Patron

    Welcome to ESMB! Some of us are looking for ways forward and I'm sure EMDR has a lot to offer. I used to study Ken Keyes's Handbook to Higher Consciousness / Living Love books and he recommends EMDR in one of his later ones.
  19. JustSheila

    JustSheila Crusader

    :welcome2: Welcome to ESMB, drpattijane!

    It's a privilege to have a trained, experienced professional on board and your comments are appreciated.

    Thank you for all the details you've provided about EMDR Therapy and your own experience with it. Is there a list of recommended professionals we can access that use this technique?
  20. TrevAnon

    TrevAnon Big List researcher

    One of my colleague was treated with EMDR (maybe amongst other treatments, don't know about that) after her husband had died. SPECTACULAR results, I cannot say otherwise, even physical (she lost a lot of weight). :)