EMDR in a Nutshell: Healing from Trauma

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What Is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a guided process that supports trauma work by using “bilateral stimulation” (BLS), or stimulating each hemisphere of the brain alternately via the senses. EMDR also involves talking, deep breathing, and other ways of grounding the nervous system. (“To ground” the nervous system means to bring its level of activation back or closer to the “ground” or baseline level.)

There are many kinds of BLS that can work well, although eye movements have been shown to be the most effective. In my practice, I use a combination of eye movements (watching a light or my finger moving back and forth), as well as sounds alternating in each ear through headphones—whichever the client prefers.

When we first meet, I work together with my client to figure out what combination of sounds and colors feels best. (A person’s own report is the best indicator for what kind of stimulation works best for them.)

Rather than medicalizing distress, EMDR provides a way of healing from trauma. EMDR isn’t about trying to treat the symptoms of an illness. It’s about healing from the root cause.

What Can EMDR Treat, and What Is It Not Helpful for?

EMDR can be very useful for trauma, specific anxieties and phobias, and many forms of impact left behind by difficult experiences or relational patterns. EMDR can be effective for Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and developmental traumas.

Another form of EMDR called Eye Movement Desensitization (EMD) can be helpful to reduce distress due to overwhelming or complex traumas and triggers, which can be used in place of or in preparation for additional reprocessing.

EMDR can be used to prepare for specific future actions (public speaking being one common example).

It is even possible to use EMDR for memories that may be vague, pre-verbal, or otherwise not fully available to consciousness. This is accomplished by processing the physical responses and triggers we have in the present.

EMDR is less directly useful for depression, grief, the impact of neglect, and other experiences we might characterize with the word “lack.” Many or most forms of difficult human experience involve both fear and loss, and working on the somatic or body-based reactivity to trauma with EMDR can allow grief work to become tolerable. In other words, EMDR can open the way for other therapies (such as psychodynamic, existential, and other “talk” therapies) to be more effective.

What Is the Difference Between a Traumatic Memory and Other Memories?

Each memory we have is stored in a “neural tree,” which (in theory) is a structure of cells that we could pick up and look at. Our non-traumatic or ordinary memories have many “branches” into the frontal cortex of the brain, which allows us to describe the memory with language, and into the hippocampus, which allows us to put the experience into the context of time (i.e. we know it happened in the past and therefore that it is now over).

Conversely, the neural trees of traumatic memories have fewer of these branches, and they also have a greater number of “roots” that anchor them to the amygdala, which is the fight/flight/freeze center of the brain. (“Freezing”, or dissociation, can be thought of as a protective numbing response to the “fight or flight” responses of anger, anxiety and fear. “Drifty,” “numb,” and “confused” are some words clients who experience dissociation have used to describe how it feels to them.)

This makes it much easier for a traumatic memory to activate the adrenal glands, and thereby the threat response system throughout the whole body. This is what we mean when we colloquially use the word “trigger”: the body has been activated for survival in response to a present stimulus that is meaningfully reminiscent of the past.

What Is Trauma Work?

“Trauma work,” “trauma processing,” or just “processing” are all shorthand ways we refer to helping neural trees grow more branches and untwine their roots! EMDR can make this process much easier and faster, though the process itself is ancient. We say that the brain “knows” how to heal itself, much like how the skin “knows” how to heal a cut. EMDR gives the brain support—much like how antiseptics and bandages can support healing wounds of the skin.

As we said above, unprocessed traumatic memories are less connected to the frontal cortex. This means we have less ability to use language to “look at” the memory, instead of “be in it,” and it’s much harder for our systems to believe that the memory is in the past and that the threat is over—it can feel like it’s happening all over again. “Naming it to tame it,” or putting experience into words (which, in EMDR, happens between doses or “sets” of BLS), helps grow more connections to the frontal cortex.

Another reason doing trauma work is one of the greatest challenges we face is because the brain and body don’t have a system that tells us we are in “mild distress.” We can only adjust between “life and death (fight, flight or freeze)” and “calm (rest and digest).” Recalling traumatic memories, alternating with taking breaks, helps the “roots” into the amygdala unwind and the survival system to quiet.

So even contemplating trauma work can feel like life and death! It’s important to be aware that there’s a reason for this intensity, and that after successful processing, it will fade. Working on trauma is not likely to be comfortable, but if it is not tolerable for my client, we stop (using a stop signal we agree on before we begin). If that happens, we focus on support and using grounding skills until their nervous system is closer to baseline. Trauma work is not as hard as trauma!

How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR allows us to process trauma by activating traumatic memories at the same time as it gives the nervous system cues for safety. This creates an “in and out” rhythm, which helps the brain get back in sync, and supports your brain in building connections to the neurons that store these memories.

We have data that clearly show that EMDR gets good results. Science is still exploring the reasons why EMDR works, but here are some of the most popular current theories, one or all of which could be true:

  1. The back-and-forth visual motion communicates to the amygdala that your body is in motion, which tells the brain that it is safe, active, and not trapped.
  2. The ocular nerve or other sense organs are stimulated, the activity of which facilitates rewriting (basically, it gets the area “warmed up” and ready for change).
  3. Stimulation of the sense organs takes up some of the brain’s bandwidth and resources (such as oxygen and glucose), which means less is available to fuel panic responses.
  4. The eye moments mimic what happens in REM sleep, another time when the brain is processing and storing memories. (This process is not fully understood, but it’s theorized to be similar to how EMDR and BLS work.)
  5. Trauma disrupts the natural rhythm of brainwaves, and EMDR provides a “corrective” rhythm to resonate with the brain as it processes disruptive memories.
  6. Predictable structure while talking about trauma is distracting and calming.

Any form of verbalizing trauma while in the regulating presence of a trusted other will have beneficial effects, for at least two reasons. First, “If you can name it, you can tame it”: Language activates the frontal cortex, which helps to build neural bridges, as well as causing a release of endorphins and other soothing neurotransmitters.

Second, our nervous systems are built from birth to monitor the internal state of others (including breath and pulse rates), and to resonate with them—so sharing a story with someone who is calm can help us calm ourselves while we tell it.

What Happens During an EMDR Session?

EMDR has a few different phases. In the first phase, I lay the groundwork with my client, including practicing grounding skills, setting up a stop signal, getting more familiar with BLS, and making sure they have a crisis plan and other supports in place in case they need help between sessions.

Next, we work together to come up with some “headlines” of memories to target, and explore the client’s feelings and beliefs about these memories. This doesn’t mean it’s not ok if we discover more along the way, but it can help us find some good places to start. In fact, we might say that it’s more likely than not that other memories will come up. That’s neither good nor bad, it’s just the brain going through the networks of association it has.

If relevant, we may also set goals at this point for a future action the person is working towards.

Most often, BLS is not used until session two (although this does not mean that processing cannot begin in your brain before that!). At that point, I work with the person to bring up the memory we agreed to use as a starting point, paying attention to the sense information, body feelings, and emotions that go with the memory.

Then, we do about 20 to 30 seconds of BLS. During that time, I ask my clients to “just notice,” “go with,” or “follow” what they’re noticing inside themselves. At the end of every “set,” I ask them to take a deep breath, tell me a sentence or two about what they’re noticing, and then we repeat.

It’s kind of like you’re on a train ride, and I’m on the phone with you, asking you what you see out the window.

Sometimes, what a person feels and notices from set to set will change, and sometimes it won’t. It’s even perfectly normal to have periods of feeling nothing at all. This is often the brain’s way of resting, assessing safety and connection, or otherwise taking care of you, and sometimes the best thing to do is just notice that feeling for a few minutes.

Although I keep a close eye on how my client is feeling as we go, I trust their own report most of all—as a person is their own best guide to how they’re doing. Some experiences are not always visible from the outside, such as “red lining” (panic, fury, etc.) or “blue lining” (dissociating).

I always tell my clients that if they think they’re feeling too much or too little, or are otherwise outside of their “zone of tolerance,” it’s important for the healing of their nervous system that they let me know. That way, we can take a break and use grounding skills before we continue.

Most sessions are spent doing sets for about 20 to 40 minutes. At the end of every session, we wrap up by using grounding skills to return the person’s nervous system to a tolerable state. I also ask if there’s anything they want to “leave in the container of therapy” (which doesn’t mean it won’t come to mind between sessions, but rather that they will set the intention not to continue to focus on it). Then we check in for a minute or two so we can both share thoughts and observations about the session.

Reprocessing can take several sessions. On average, it ranges from 3 to 12 weeks, though it can be significantly shorter or longer. Sometimes a person may feel different by the end of a session, and sometimes they may not.

What Do I Do Between Sessions?

In between sessions, clients may continue to process memories, meaning they may still be remembering, feeling, or even dreaming things. If that happens, their job is to notice it as much or as little as they’d like to, and then use a grounding skill. (“They don’t work if you don’t use them!”)

The client’s most important job, and their only “homework,” is to keep their nervous system and emotions within tolerable limits as much as they can. (It’s ok if they can’t do this perfectly, but it’s important to set it as a goal to strive towards.)

There are a number of questions we check in about as we prepare to engage in EMDR:

  • How will you know if you’re outside of your tolerable zone?
  • What grounding skills will you use?
  • What friends and family can you connect with, whether to ask for help using grounding skills, talk about what you’re feeling, or just to share space?
  • If you are unable to ground yourself on your own or with the assistance of loved ones,   what hotlines and/or mental health professionals will you call and how?
What Might Be Different After EMDR Is Complete?

The good and bad news is that EMDR does not make you forget what has happened. After processing, accessing memories of a traumatizing event will feel much like accessing any other memory. The most noticeable difference will likely be that the memory no longer creates an overwhelming body response.

After EMDR, it’s common for a phase of grief work to begin. This can involve feeling sadness and anger, as well as (in some cases) shifts in sense of identity or what is important to us. Sometimes we need support to explore questions like “Who am I without this fear?” or “Is it ok to get better?” Continuing in talk therapy after EMDR is over may help people continue to integrate their experiences and to heal.

To anyone contemplating EMDR, I wish you good healing, and congratulations to anyone who is willing to take the risks to talk about the hard stuff. I believe the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and to others is to make room for our feelings.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

57 COMMENTS

  1. Kerry

    This was a great summary of EMDR therapy.

    When I was doing active therapy (including EMDR) with people (until 2015) I found EMDR to be especially helpful for trauma victims. In some cases I saw remarkable positive changes take place in just a few sessions.

    People expend a great deal of energy throughout their life trying to avoid and/or “outrun” their memories of trauma experiences. These efforts are often labelled and falsely *medicalized* as “depression,” “anxiety,” or “Bi-polar” etc….

    EMDR can allow some people to finally “slow down” and look at these past events in a safe place, AND with an adult mind that’s more capable of reprocessing these events in a way that appropriately assigns “responsibility” and allows for more self empathy.

    When bad things happen to children they often “take on the badness as if it were their own.” This fills children with enormous amounts of guilt and shame at an early age that they often carry into adulthood. EMDR can sometimes finally provide the safety and necessary distance from these events to more appropriately access true responsibility and so-called “blame” for events that the trauma victim blamed on themselves.

    We now know that each time someone remembers past events they are actually recreating new memories, because there is a process of reprocessing going on that re-edits these past events with the current *adult* outlook and moral capabilities and standards.

    With EMDR people do not forget the past trauma events, but are often much more able to tolerate and “own” the memories. and especially NO LONGER have to expend so much self defeating energy running from those past memories.

    Understanding this about trauma and the positive qualities of EMDR therapy (when carried out appropriately) helps explain and expose just how harmful psychiatry’s (and their colluding partner, Big Pharma’s) Medical Model (with all their labeling and drugging) is to trauma victims in the world.

    Kerry, your work helping people who have experienced trauma is very difficult, and I salute your compassion and efforts to do this work and educate others who may wish to pursue it in their counseling career or their own personal work in therapy.

    All the best, Richard

  2. This is cool insofar as it is a drugless therapy. But its theory is all brain-based.

    As long as we cling to this failed way of understanding the mind, we risk falling back under the influence of psychiatry and “modern” psychology. There is a whole body of work using Spirit-based theory and practices that needs to be explored.

    When am I going to hear news of someone using a Locational or similar process and what their experiences were with it?

  3. Thanks for your great summary of EMDR.

    You write: “Another reason doing trauma work is one of the greatest challenges we face is because the brain and body don’t have a system that tells us we are in ‘mild distress.’ We can only adjust between ‘life and death (fight, flight or freeze)’ and ‘calm (rest and digest).'”

    Are you sure we are limited to just the two, fight/flight/freeze or calm/rest/digest? How would you characterize the emotional/physiological systems (for lack of a better term) that come into play during activities such as intense cardiovascular exercise / sports, or deep cognitive work (e.g., doing advanced mathematics), or laughing a lot among an audience during a comedian’s routine?

  4. The biggest problem with this article (apart from championing how treatment is a mechanistic endeavour ala the medical model) is that the science behind EMDR is speculative at best, but is sold as solid and supported fact. Many forms of exposure to trauma can be helpful (given the conditions about what constitutes a therapeutic relationship are met) and the most accurate description of EMDR I came across was: “what is effective is not new and what is new is not effective”.

  5. Thank you for sharing this interesting alternative to mainstream psychiatry’s and psychology’s – primarily child abuse covering up – stigmatize and neurotoxic poisoning crimes, Kerry. Truly, trauma informed care is most definitely needed, given the fact that over 80% of the “mental health” workers’ clients, are child abuse survivors today.

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/04/heal-for-life/
    https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/23/18820633.php?fbclid=IwAR2-cgZPcEvbz7yFqMuUwneIuaqGleGiOzackY4N2sPeVXolwmEga5iKxdo

    And I totally agree, “congratulations to anyone who is willing to take the risks to talk about the hard stuff.” But, based upon my experience, that’s 100% the opposite of what my “mental health” workers did. The abuse of my child was initially covered up, based upon lies from a Lutheran pastor, by a misdiagnosing Lutheran psychologist, according to her medical records, and her DSM-IV-TR. And once the medical evidence of the abuse of my four year old child was finally handed over, a lunatic psychiatrist told me the best way to help a healing child, who’d been abused four years prior, was to neurotoxic poison him. WTF!

    Definitely, good alternatives to today’s, systemic child abuse covering up, and child abusing, “mental health” industries are needed, and EMDR sounds like an interesting alternative. However, it’s just probably best done by someone – other than those who’ve already betrayed child abuse survivors, by DSM design, on a massive societal scale – like too many of the psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other DSM “bible” thumpers, have done.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-child-does-not-have-bipolar-disorder/201402/dsm-5-and-child-neglect-and-abuse-1

  6. Kerry,

    Thank you for such a comprehensive explanation of EMDR.

    For over twenty years I have been involved in advocacy taking a best practice standards approach.

    Influences from psychiatry and Big Pharma are probably a large part of the reason why so many main stream advocates (NAMI) work to advance the benefits of drug therapy.

    There also seems to be a lack of awareness of alternatives among advocates and consumers. Explanations like yours are greatly needed to help expand awareness of alternatives to medication management.

    • The fact that these approaches are called “alternatives” is in and of itself a big problem. It implies that the MAIN way to do things is psychiatry, and these other “alternatives” are for either when it doesn’t work or someone wants to “try something different.” There is condescension in the very term. Same applies to “alternative medicine.” In fact, I’d prefer these approaches not be called “treatments” at all – I’d prefer they be called “approaches” or “strategies” or “opportunities” or “processes” or anything that doesn’t imply any kind of relationship to medicine or psychiatry.

      • Steve, I agree with your statements and in the past have engaged in many different modalities that helped facilitate healing from what was originally diagnosed as a “mental illness”. Different terms were used to describe the modalities including: orthomolecular psychiatry, complimentary therapies, nutritional/vitamin/IV therapy, functional medicine, integrative therapies and precision medicine.

        Unlike many other psych patients, I was blessed to have access to and be able to financially afford a multimodal approach.

        I am sure you are familiar with the Indian parable of the blind men and the elephant and it is one that I think has an important message to consider on different perspectives and problem solving.

        As an individual with experience as a psychiatric patient under forced treatment, a self-advocate and an advocate for others, although not always easy, I feel it is important to maintain respect for all.

        And as hard as it may be, respect must be maintainted for those who claim they or their loved one have benefitted from psychiatry, psych drugs and even ECT.

        Unfortunately, psychiatry is a very powerful and unregulated authority that can legally force whatever treatment, no matter how harmful, they want to on their patients.

        For consumers under court-ordered treatment, psychiatry is what they must purchase and they have no access or rights to any other modality.

        Psychiatric consumers under coercive treatment are at a disadvantage and are in need of strong, educated advocates who will work in their best interest. This is why educating advocates on the value of options different from psychiatric drugging/ECT is critically needed.

  7. Thank you for the interesting article. I’d like to know more about the (im)possiblities of EMDR during the use of psychotropic medication. Lots of people have questions about this. They often get the advice to stop the medication before starting EMDR. Trying to do that they suffer from withdrawal which makes it impossible to undergo EMDR. On the other hand it sounds plausible that ‘work with trauma’ can be helpful to avoid lifelong use of harmful meds.
    What I understood so far is that there are no guidelines for EMDR-professionals what to do in this kind of situations.

  8. Hello Kerry,
    my wife is part of the early childhood trauma/extreme dissociation community, so I’ve heard about EMDR for a long time, and I’ll be honest, I’ve always been skeptical as it sounded like ‘snake oil’ and ‘magic elixir’ stuff, but I’ll grant you that I don’t always know why things I do to help my wife heal work, though attachment theory does form the foundation of much that we do.

    I am curious how you deal with dissociation. Any unprocessed trauma that isn’t dealt with, eventually becomes ‘sequestered’ or dissociated. For us, the trauma is the relatively easy part to heal using attachment concepts of ‘safe haven’, ‘proximity maintenance’ and ‘affect regulation’. It’s tearing down the dissociative walls and retraining her brain to access all those areas that had been largely unavailable for decades that has been the much bigger issue, and we’ve only found doing repetitive tasks, based on the concepts of neural plasticity, to undo that.
    However, beyond the neural plasticity issue, is the fact that the dissociative walls hide so much of the trauma, and at least in our case, the deeper the trauma, the more I’ve been the ONLY person she let into those dark places as her ‘primary attachment figure’ and so I wonder how much access you realistically have. My wife’s counselor didn’t have half the access I do, plus I’m with her every day, 24/7.
    I’m just throwing things out. I would love for EMDR to work. It’ seems so wonderful and easy…nothing like the hell we’ve gone thru the last 14 years as I’m still helping her tear down the dissociation and every time I think we have the trauma gone, another bit ‘pops’ up because we tore down more dissociation or for other reasons that are too numerous to delineate here.
    I do wish you the best.
    Sam

    • Hi Sam,

      I’m new here, just thought I’d share my personal experience with EMDR and dissociation in case it’s any help. I don’t have ‘full-blown’ DID but do have internal ‘parts’ which have different thoughts, emotions and knowledge of the world than I do. I’m unable to engage with traditional EMDR because my dissociation is too severe, but over the last few years I’ve developed a method with my therapist which uses EMDR as a tool inside a wider process based on the Internal Family Systems model, gestalt and narrative therapy.

      I use self-guided visualisation, grounding and a technique called ‘pendulation’ to manage different dissociative parts alongside my ‘executive function’ part (aka the ‘present day me’). In a sense this allows me to become my own therapist (under the guide of my actual therapist), to negotiate with and draw on the strength of different parts to help each other. It slowly built the strength and structure which has enabled me to manage traumatic material. Personally I do find it helpful to share the content of what I’m processing with my therapist, but some people have specifically used these techniques in order to process memories which they find too triggering to speak about openly, even with a therapist.

      The EMDR itself is partly used as a way to compartmentalise the processing of extremely overwhelming memories/emotions – it’s very useful to delineate when I am ‘in’ and ‘out’ of processing mode, and as such I use it as a tool to help my ‘parts’ have a safe containing structure in which to experience excruciating material in short, manageable sections.

      It’s also useful as a grounding technique during processing (the rhythmic nature of bilateral stimulation seems to distract parts of the brain which would otherwise quickly become overwhelmed). I can’t say for sure if it does anything beyond that.. perhaps if I was using the same method but replaced EMDR with some different repetitive/ritualised movement it would work just as well, or perhaps there really is some extra neurological benefit to BLS? But I can say that EMDR has been a great tool which has helped me make more progress in the last 3 years than with any ‘talk therapy’ previously.

      The wider process I use is too complex to cover in a brief comment, but I’m happy to try to explain more if it’s of any interest you. Best wishes to you and your wife.

      • Hi Sonus Silentio,
        thank you for taking the time to describe your experience with EMDR. I’m glad you’ve had a positive experience with it as we’ve had with attachment theory.
        I do wish you the best as you continue on your healing journey.
        Sam

  9. Thank you for your great summary of EMDR. We need to publicize successful cases of recovery so we can elevate the trust of the larger population.

    Would you happen to know if there are any successful experiences of using EMDR for people suffering from psychosis? I would think it is almost impossible for such individuals to go through a meaningful planning process with the therapist.

    Are you familiar with the work of Paul William Miller? He has written a book about using EMDR on people diagnosed with “schizophrenia.” I have not read the book yet, but I would be interested to know your perspective based on your experience.

  10. My knowledge of EMDR is a couple of decades out of date now. It stems from the research I did during an unethical and abusive trial of EMDR upon inmates of Sydney’s Mulawa Women’s Prison (scroll down about a dozen paras to see the EMDR bit).

    What I found from the literature available at the time was that PTSD trials carried out by Shapiro and her colleagues consistently made hyperbolic claims of success rates in excess of 90% while those carried out by independent researchers found no significant difference between EMDR and regular trauma exposure and desensitisation therapies (i.e. the BLS is BS). Sure enough, when the head of the Mulawa trial (one of Shapiro’s acolytes) reported his results a year or so later he too made claims that over 90% of those treated showed reductions in trauma symptoms and made no mention of the numerous adverse responses that had alerted the NGO I work with to the trial in the first place (via complaints by the trial subjects and their families).

    My conclusion at the time was that EMDR was mostly a mumbo-jumbo driven cult. It’s my understanding that its popularity among therapists has grown in leaps and bounds since then and it’s now being used in a wide range of non-trauma related applications (e.g. relationship counseling).

    Although there’s nothing in the article above that would cause me to revisit my opinion I’m always willing to adopt new conclusions in response to new data. So if any of the EMDR proponents posting here can point me to, say, some independent randomised studies carried out by researchers without skin in the game (i.e. who don’t make a living from EMDR) that have more than a dozen or so subjects and either have low dropout rates or incorporate the dropouts into their statistical analysis that demonstrate EMDR is any more effective than other exposure and desensitisation therapies for trauma or that it’s effective at all for non-trauma based treatments I’d be much obliged. Surely after more than three decades there would have to be some good quality evidence for it. If it works.

    (BTW, as is the case with a lot of D&A treatments I found the EMDR trials carried out by proponents routinely ignored the relatively large number of dropouts rather than classifying them as failures. I never got access to the raw data from the Mulawa trial, but given the number of inmates who refused to continue in the face of distressing flashbacks I can’t see how they could have reported such a high ‘success’ rate without discarding the failures.)

    • I think mumbo jumbo seems quite apt – I trained in EMDR about a decade ago and I was initially swept up with the enthusiasm of colleagues and what seemed like people benefiting from it. However when I really began to reflect on what I was seeing and doing it made less sense.

      There can be something helpful, dare I say healing, in supportive compassionate encounters with trusted others – spaces where people can speak out what is in can help.

      I think this is all EMDR really is, especially around the ‘processing’ phase its a chance to speak it out or just have someone sit alongside – the psychobabble that goes along with it especially about the brain and the endless computer metaphors ‘installing resources’ etc is just fluff or stagecraft. However fluff in therapy does seem to help generate a little more placebo so perhaps its needed. I do wonder if we included the extraction of a white trauma dove from a seemingly empty bag might also get much the same results?

      Of course having people speak out what is in can also be very harmful, overwhelming etc . I find the resource installation and grounding ideas particularly uncomfortable because we are not computers – we cannot simply wave our fingers, follow a light or hand taps and be in possession of ‘resources’. Being able to ground self or engage in guided imagery etc if workable at all involves dedicated practice and the life resources to make such endeavours practicable and manageable. It cannot be done in brief therapy without considerable self delusion by both parties.

      We also know that nearly all ‘therapy’ is done on our terms, in the clinic devoid of context and full of people largely conformist and people pleasing, with no long term follow up or taking into account the myriad of factors that might also be helping outside of the therapy room, yet all benefit is linked to what seems the most obvious.

      After working in the industry for a long time it seems full of people I think of as ‘believers’ well meaning people often kind hearted but also very self interested and excellent and self promotion and believing in what they do and their curative powers. This would be all well and good if it really worked but we all know therapy is completely oversold yet many believers will simply refuse to engage with the critics, heads firmly in the quite lucrative and safe sand. This is a helpful book for a take down of the ‘evidence’ for therapy etc https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030327491

      • I can see you’ve been thinking a lot about the practical and moral dilemmas that come with offering therapy, not just those posed by EMDR. I think some of the ones you raise are best addressed by approaches that connect the person seeking help to the support offered by their own community and loved ones, rather than ones that seeks to make the problem a technical, neurobabbled one for trained professionals. Whether they’re always applicable and appropriate or get the best results is another big set of questions though.

  11. Thank you Kerry for your quick response on my former comment and questions!
    In the meantime I pointed out the article to a member of our patients-association and she replied with more questions in particular about EMDR during withdrawal.
    ‘Assuming that almost everyone has to deal with withdrawal symptoms during/after the withdrawal of psychotropic medication, one short, the other long, is it wise to undergo EMDR treatments during that time or could that that too burdensome?
    Are EMDR therapists even aware that tapering can be very taxing on the body and brain? Is this taken into account?
    Have studies been done on that? Are there EMDR patients who indicate this (experience stories, complaints, etc.)?
    Is EMDR desirable during dismantling and the time afterwards?
    How about withdrawal causing an extra trauma or even in itself? ‘

  12. I got the worst headache from “EMDR” and not surprisingly, they know nothing about that.
    Funny how people know stuff about the brain, but when it comes down to the crunch, really know nothing.

    And it was not a headache or as I know headaches. It was intolerable searing/burning, which also happened to me
    when accupuncture was done to my scalp area.

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