How EMDR Works!

The information I received from my therapist about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and how it works says “in 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts, under certain conditions. No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. But it has been found that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes “frozen in time,” and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and they way they relate to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.”

Let me just say here that when I first heard about this treatment, I was not sure this was going to work for me. I couldn’t understand how putting a headset on and holding a small stimulator in each hand could possibly help me with the trauma I had experienced. But, I was open to anything because I knew I couldn’t go on the way I was. I was a mess to say the least. I couldn’t sleep at night without a bright light on (so if I woke up I could quickly scan the room to make sure there were no scorpions around) and even with that, I wasn’t really getting much sleep at all. If I saw a scorpion during the day, I would spray it until it was dead and get rid of it, but I just couldn’t get my emotions settled down again after that, sometimes for days. I knew I had to do something not only for my own well being, but I also didn’t want to put all that on my family and friends. So I sought help with the open mind of trying whatever it took to help me understand and deal with what was happening to me.

My therapist explained the whole EMDR process to me on the first visit, then I came back to have the actual treatment done. All I can say is it was THE most amazing thing I ever experienced. I was sitting in a very relaxing overstuffed chair and the room was dimly lit. My therapist gave me a headset to put on over my ears and I held a small stimulator in each hand. Then, my therapist had me close my eyes (I had to keep my eyes closed throughout the entire treatment session ) and do deep breathing exercises that she talked me through. I never was asleep, but I did become very, very, relaxed. Then, I was asked to bring up the image of the scorpion in my mind all the while keeping my eyes closed. My therapist began to talk to me about what the scorpion looked like to me and my heart started to beat faster as I began to describe what I was seeing. As I spoke my therapist stated the EMDR machine which would beep in one ear and then the other while I would feel the stimulators in my hand one and then the other. I immediately began to sob and cry and I was shaking so hard I could hardly speak. All the while my therapist would talk to me and tell me I was fine, and that I could coexist with these creatures around me as long as I knew how to deal with them.

During the treatment session, my therapist facilitated the directional movement of my eyes with the controlled beeps I would hear in each ear and by the stimulators I held in each hand. This would continue until the memory became less disturbing and was associated with positive thoughts and beliefs about myself. For example, my therapist reminded me I was strong enough to handle whatever I needed to do to stay safe within my environment and reminded me how much I love my new home and how it was going to be my safe place etc. My first treatment session lasted for about 90 minutes and at the beginning my stress level was a 10 on a scale of 1-10 but at the end of the treatment session my stress level was about 3-4. This was with just one treatment session.

In addition to the first session at the office, I was given some things I need to do at home before my next office visit when we will discuss if I need another EMDR treatment or if we can begin counseling sessions. What I know for sure as of this writing is I haven’t seen another scorpion since my first treatment so I don’t know how I will react if/when I do, but I am happy to say, as of Monday night, I have been able to turn off the bright light and/or lamp in my room (something I haven’t been able to do since this all started in April) and now I sleep with only a very small, night-light on. That in and of itself is worth the treatment for me as it is a huge improvement for me for right now. I am looking forward to my continued work with my therapist, and my continued success.

Next: Asking For Help & Helping Others

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bill
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 23:42:30

    If anyone can get through this I know you will be the one, I love you and i’m proud of you for getting the help you need.
    Your Bill

    Reply

    • beyondcinderella
      Jul 25, 2012 @ 23:56:21

      Thank you so much for responding to my post Bill. I know you know how difficult it is for me to not only talk about all this with you, but to put it out here in the hopes I can help anyone else. I soooooo love you. Your Girly

      Reply

  2. Megs
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 14:52:09

    I am so happy the 1st treatment went so well. You are going to continue to feel even better as you take care of yourself. It is very hard to put yourself first, & I’m very proud of you for doing it. Love you!

    Reply

    • beyondcinderella
      Jul 26, 2012 @ 15:38:17

      Yes, my dear friend, I am working hard to get where I need to be and I know I will come out of this better and stronger than ever. I so appreciate your friendship and support. XXXOOO Va

      Reply

  3. gotham girl
    Jul 28, 2012 @ 18:08:26

    My BRO is so special isn’t he? Your progress has been amazing! You rock my sweet! xoxo MORE!

    Reply

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