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Mark G

EMDR for PTSD, reprocessing starts tomorrow.

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Hey all,  well,  I've been going to my psychotherapist for around 5 weeks now and she is an absolute marvel.  I was diagnosed with PTSD which,  as a byproduct,  has inflicted me with HA for 15 or so years.   She recommended EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) and CBT as a treatment and tomorrow is the day where the reprocessing starts.  I've already had 'resources'  installed in to my mind through this method but tomorrow comes the day where I have to delve in to some pretty horrid memories which I have blocked and not thought about fully for many years.   I must admit,  I'm excited but also nervous as I know that its not going to be pleasant. It will take as long as it takes and may well last a few sessions but I'm optimistic that these root causes/memories will be reprocessed and laid to rest.   Time will tell I guess :) 

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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.
  
It's terrific that you've spent time in the Resource Installation phase. These resources will give you a "floor" or "container" to help with processing the really hard stuff, as well as creating strategies if you're triggered in everyday life. You can also use these resources 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, 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 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. 
 
I can't say enough good things about EMDR therapy. It's changed my life both as a person/consumer, and as a therapist. It has been so satisfying to have someone come in for help and then to witness them get through their issues and finish therapy relatively quickly (compared to regular talk therapy, it's like night and day). I am both humbled by and grateful for this wonderful method that heals suffering.

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Many thanks for your insights, i have had safe place, as well as 2 other resources installed using vibrations nodes in each hands.  Tomorrow sees the start of the reprocessing itself.  I will have a lot to go through so i have no idea how long it will take or even if it will work but i'm very curious.

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Well that was interesting.. in a daze now but never felt anything like it.  Definite progress made.  Very interested in futer session to see whether this will work :)  

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Well phase 1 is finished :) I have gone from hating and fearing an old bully to not giving a flying fig about him.  Truly amazed by this process.  Phase 2 next week, dreading that one.

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Mark how is it going now ?  I don't know if you'll see this. I meant to respond ages ago. How many sessions and what would you say you've gained from it?

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Hi Joycicle.

Well, it's amazing i've got to say.  I have completed EMDR now and i feel so much better for it.  It lasted about 8-9 sessions for me as i had complications through phase 2 as my PTSD was very deeply embedded within me but all of my past events which were never processed properly have now been processed and i view them as a memory and not a constant event. (if that makes sense) It's a kind of self hypnotherapy but without the outside suggestion, my mind went where it needed to go without my intervention,  like a powerful daydream. I used two vibration pads in each hand which vibrated consecutively to create a kind of REM pattern within the mind.. my eyes would react, i would flinch and move around during the process.  My final session on EMDR was last week where i worked through my obtrusive thought of dropping down dead and from going to having this thought many times a day.. i've not had one since the session.  It's outstanding stuff and i wish more therapists would use this form of therapy.  I can now think back to the past issues when i was a child with no emotion or very much reduced.  I've gained calmness in my subconscious, i can feel it, it's something i've never felt before.  It's not changed my automatic anxiety reactions as such, thats now being worked on with CBT but the cause has now been laid to rest so to speak.  Anyone who reads this, ask your therapist for this if you have has any past trauma or a bad childhood etc, it could be that you have PTSD sitting at the core.  Thanks for asking Joycicle :) 

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Wow ! I was doing a guided meditation where he was talking about just that. He actually suggested to re write the ' old scene' from the past that is upsetting to make it less traumatizing, as if you're watching it on a screen and not living it.  Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. 

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Thanks to member, Leopard, I've been doing more mental stuff and not just waiting for help to arrive without doing something.  The daily meditations have given me a sense of calm over all that I've not felt in a while. But yes, you are right it doesn't necessarily help when we are in a tight spot because we have the childhood stuff and NOW our new and recently learned anxiety stuff. So it still is two different things. 

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Absolutely right, they are separate issues, but the 'fuel cell' has been eradicated so the anxiety has to rely on the here on now and habit to keep going.  It's not so much rewriting the past issues, it's facing them.. i'd repressed these thoughts and events so deeply that even during the session, my mind would take me to safe places like home or somewhere where i wasn't affected by the issues, i was running even in memory.  My therapist would guide me back to the scene and once i faced them, my mind would start to break it down into chunks and process them, just like you do during REM sleep.  This is why this therapy exists, to replicate the same conditions of event processing, so processing can happen and the event can be stored in the right location in the brain/mind.  There are guided meditations and hypnotherapy which can create the same effect but like i say, hypnotherapy relies on the power of outside suggestion to work.  It's fascinating stuff 

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Yes go for it by all means.  I'd highly recommend it.  There are things you can do to help yourself by creating a safe place in your mind and using a reinforcing technique called butterfly tapping to create the REM conditions for yourself.  Drop me a PM  if you're interested.

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Hi mark,

I'm going through my own battle with past traumas right now, and I've recently had to quit therapy, because my therapist was too judgmental and dismissive. I was with her for 5 months and she was able to help me through one particular experience, but after, I felt that I wasn't making any progress, and I feel that's because there's still so much that I have to work through, and I just didn't feel comfortable enough with her to talk about it. So now I want to ask my new therapist about emdr, and I wanted to know how you feel now a year later and if you feel a drastic difference from the way you were feeling before?

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Hi,

I'm sorry to hear about that experience with a therapist and you did the right thing.  No therapist should dismiss any part of your experience, they should use what you say as a tool to make you understand and think differently about it.  You should feel 100% comfortable with discussing whatever you feel regardless of the subject.  Thats exactly what i could do with my therapist.  She listened, understood and helped me with all the nasty things that happened in the past.  EMDR is fantastic if done properly by a good therapist, i was very lucky and i owe a lot to her.  A year on and i can certainly feel the difference, i've been through a very stressful few months where i nearly lost my fiance to a brain hemorrhage and stroke.  Through these last few month i was able to use the tools i learnt and also accept and discarded the thoughts i did not want and was massively surprised at how i handled it compared to how i was before.  Now the PTSD was mostly at the route of my anxieties so now that has been neutralised, i don't have as much anxiety.  It's still there but i simply don't care about it.  Thats the goal we should all aim for, to no longer care about anxiety and it's tricks because anxiety without fear is nothing.  So yes, it was very beneficial to me and will be to you should you go down that route.   

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