October 16, 2006 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience they can share about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, either as a patient or a practitioner?

My therapist suggested this, but I don't understand enough about it to decide if it seems like something that would be helpful. One of my concerns is that the whole idea of bringing back memories from my childhood makes me worry it might create false memories rather than bringing up real ones. Also, I just really don't understand the science behind EMDR.

Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences with EMDR. If you would rather not post your experiences in a public forum, my email is in my profile.

**I did search for EMDR, but the only other post I could find is over a year old (and didn't get that many replies). I know we've grown a lot in the past year and a half and new members = new insights.
posted by necessitas to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Stanford University has a sleep research center that has done a lot of work on this. I recall there was a Nova show (PBS) that covered sleep and scratched on this topic. I suggest that you call Stanford University tomorrow and enquire about their research, you might even see if you can get an informational interview. They are usually busy in the evenings though, sleeping.
posted by parmanparman at 3:53 PM on October 16, 2006

If you do a google search for "EMDR science" you get a page full of sites saying that it's bunk, including quackwatch.org and some review papers. The only first page link supporting the practice is an advocacy group, emdr.com, which is a bad sign.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:18 PM on October 16, 2006

Psychotherapy, in almost all of its reputable guises, is proven to work. It does not, seem to work by specific effects. In other words, EMDR per se doesn't help as a technique, but helps because it provides a framework for the contextual aspects of therapy (relationship, hope, a plan, a motivated desire to change) to work. An important aspect of that context is the patients theory of change. People do best when they believe in the treatment that they are participating in, when it accords with their model of mind, when it complements their worldview. Bruce Wampold (very scientifically) explains all of this in his book The Great Psychotherapy Debate.

What this means for you and EMDR is: yes, it could work to help you, but is most likely to do so if what you read about it accords with what makes sense for you. I'm a psychotherapist, and although I've never done EMDR, I've had patients tell me that it saved their lives, and other patients say that the little lights a beeps were like an annoying arcade game. Neither was right or wrong.

See also my comment in the other thread, which references a study proving that EMDR works no better than other forms of therapy. (Which, just to be clear, doesn't mean that it doesn't work. It works for some people some of the time, but there's no reason to use it specifically.)
posted by OmieWise at 4:38 PM on October 16, 2006 [2 favorites]

I underwent EMDR therapy many years ago. It took me several of those intervening years to get over the bullshit memories my therapist helped me "uncover".

Being afraid of bringing up false memories is, in my opinion, the right attitude to take. I have a very negative impression of EMDR, but that may be because it was administered by a quack.

It's also possible that only quacks admininster EMDR.
posted by frykitty at 4:55 PM on October 16, 2006

Briefly tried it back in '96 with a relatively experienced practitioner -- to no effect whatsoever. My theory: it is largely psychosomatic -- if you believe that it will help, then it just might. YMMV.
posted by davidmsc at 5:22 PM on October 16, 2006

It is not quackery. There are studies about it, showing it works. Make certain the therapist you go to is certified in EMDR. Although I didn't, it might be a good idea to have some regular therapy sessions with the therapist who is going to do the EMDR, so you already have some trust there. (In my situation, my regular therapist wasn't certified, so she sent me to her colleague.) My therapist actually had just gotten his doctorate in psychology, and his thesis was about EMDR.

I went through it and it was a wonderful help to me. The difference it made was tremendous. I never had any false memories - my therapist never led me towards a memory or anything.

Please excuse the self link, but as I was requested to by a friend whose psychiatric blog I was reading, I wrote about my entire experience, in some detail, online. It took me 9 sessions. I hope it helps you to read about it. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to email me.

Here's my site.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:53 PM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Thesis, dissertation - whatever.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:56 PM on October 16, 2006

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