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AIBU to consider trying EMDR?

(35 Posts)
Unicornsandrainbows3 Fri 09-Feb-18 11:07:03

To keep it beief I have a history of severe, ongoing and complex trauma including childhood grooming and abuse, DV and sexual abuse.

EMDR has been mentioned as a possibility but there seen to be varying opinions on the success in those with complex trauma.
Has anyone here tried it? What happens during sessions? Does it really work so well? After years of trying various therapies I do feel a bit wary, but if it really does work I'd be willing to try.

DexyMidnight Fri 09-Feb-18 11:25:52

Someone has just recommended this to me on MN and I am looking into it. Haven’t tried it obviously but will PM you.

dissapointedafternoon Fri 09-Feb-18 11:27:17

I'm about to start this

I think it will help you neutralise your thoughts. Let us know how you got on x

Yawnyprawn Fri 09-Feb-18 11:35:24

Good friend of mine is a trained therapist with EMDR specialisation. She says she's getting great work done with her EMDR clients. I wish I could offer more reassurance than this, but it does sound like a good idea and what have you got to lose by trying?

Starfish Fri 09-Feb-18 12:31:33

I found EMDR to be one of the most difficult therapies I've ever attempted. It involved a lot of revisiting traumatic memories which was really tough. I dropped out of it fairly early because I couldn't handle it. Not to say that this is the case for everyone though, I'm sure it has it's merits if you stick with it.

MrsFrankDrebin Fri 09-Feb-18 14:06:53

I know someone for whom EMDR was tremendously successful - this was several years ago, when hardly anyone had heard of it.

They, too, had complex trauma, had been on every antidepressant going, clearly had PTSD, had suicidal thoughts every day. Things had got so their doctors were even contemplating electric shock therapy. EMDR was suggested as an alternative by just one doctor who had heard of it.

It wasn't easy, and it took a while. I know it wasn't an easy 'quick fix'.
But - and this is important - it worked. It doesn't really do to 'analyse' why, it just did. It literally saved my friend's life.

Unicornsandrainbows3 Wed 28-Feb-18 19:06:49

Thank you all. I'm still tossing up whether to do it as I spoke to a counsellor who said they wouldn't recommend it for someone with severe complex trauma and dissociation, and yet some of you here have said the opposite!

I've started art therapy and am finding it helpful although very confronting at times. I think I really need to try and get the dissociation under control before I try anything else.

waterlego6064 Wed 28-Feb-18 19:10:33

I have a friend who had it for PTSD following an extremely traumatic birth. It really helped her. She explained that the process was intended to help her reroute those memories because they had been ‘misfiled’, and needed to be put into the long term memory as very sad and upsetting but no longer terrifying thoughts. I appreciate that isn’t the scientific explanation but it really made sense to me and I could see how that could be effective.

Stompythedinosaur Wed 28-Feb-18 19:17:56

I'm a MH inpatient nurse. I've seen EMDR work very well for a number of people, including those with complex needs. I'm surprised a counsellor would be giving an opinion, I severely doubt they are qualified to do so.

EMDR has similar outcomes to several spoken therapies (CBT, systemic work), while it does require you to hold traumatic memories in mind during the sessions, it avoids the ongoing work of those therapies (e.g. completing ongoing mood and thought diaries, practising techniques). Different people prefer each approach.

Is there someone qualified in rl who can advise you (a psychologist/psychiatrist/senior nurse)?

Unicornsandrainbows3 Wed 28-Feb-18 19:18:32

Yes it makes sense to me too. I do want to try it, just scared and concerned about dissociation. Counsellor also said it should never be used while someone is in the midst of giving statements to police (I am) as it can and does change memories and feelings. I'm very confused.

Homebird8 Wed 28-Feb-18 19:18:37

My DS was very successfully treated for PTSD (but admittedly not CPTSD) with EMDR aged 12. I was sceptical to say the least and sometime it was really hard to see the pain in his face with what he was going through but it worked so well and so fast I would say seriously think about trying it.

What DS told me about the process was that the events were initially on a pedestal with a spotlight on them. Later they went into a glass box, and then the box turned into a cardboard one. Finally he said the box had been put away.

It seemed that after sessions his brain kept working on things without positive input and everything settled even more. Some of the events that initially had seemed important to treat ended up not needing it as he said that they no longer bothered him.

I found that he didn’t need to go through every part of a memory. Key moments were enough. Painful but not re traumatising.

I am sorry you find yourself in this position. DH has CPTSD and his therapist is just starting to talk about trying EMDR in his case too. DS is now 15 and I’m sure he would encourage his dad to try it.

madcatsforever Wed 28-Feb-18 19:19:22

Hi smile

I had EMDR 2 years ago, it was quite lengthy as there was a lot of work to do and it was easily the hardest therapy I’ve had due to the processing which happens between sessions.

I was at risk of not being able to go ahead due to dissociation but my therapist was amazing at grounding techniques and never pushed me further or faster than I could manage. I can honestly say that it changed my life, nightmares plagued me for 20 years and my life was full of flashbacks - neither of these are a problem for me now.

If you want to chat about the process more in depth please do message me.

(Edited by MNHQ)

SunnyCoco Wed 28-Feb-18 19:20:24

I’ve tried it OP, for ptsd and dissociation

It wasn’t a life changer and I found it difficult to get into the right headspace as it’s so different from anything I’ve done before

BUT yes I would say it helped. I was glad I tried it.

Unicornsandrainbows3 Wed 28-Feb-18 19:21:39

Thanks Stompy. She's a specialist trauma counsellor, did her EMDR training awhile back but doesn't practice as far as I am aware. I don't know anyone else who is qualified and who works with complex trauma to ask them.

SunnyCoco Wed 28-Feb-18 19:23:12

Oh and I agree with madcats about getting some Really good grounding techniques in your toolbox - for this I found movement therapy helpful
Best of luck

MatildaTheCat Wed 28-Feb-18 19:24:45

Madcat I have reported your post as it’s not a good idea to include your email address on here. Hope that’s ok.

Unicornsandrainbows3 Wed 28-Feb-18 19:24:53

Thank you everyone. I'm sorry you've all experiences trauma and the aftermath too but glad EMDR has helped. The general consensus seems to be try it! I will at least look further into it.

WildWindsBlowing Wed 28-Feb-18 19:26:56

I am very sorry for the abuse you suffered flowers.
From what I have heard EMDR could help you a lot, but given what you have been through all ready I think you would need a highly qualified practitioner with lots of experience in psychological counselling too.

Good luck with it if you do decide to go ahead.

Misty9 Wed 28-Feb-18 19:28:27

Dissociation is managed with grounding techniques so let your therapist know about worries. I’m a Psychologist and many of my colleagues have trained/are training in this and it’s highly regarded as being a well evidenced treatment for trauma. I’m not sure about the conflict with giving statements, but maybe check out for more info
I’m not too sure how it works, but it seems to for a lot of people!
Good luck

madcatsforever Wed 28-Feb-18 19:32:32

@matildathecat thanks but it’s just a free unregistered email address, not much anyone can do with it but send me spam mail which I won’t read 😂

WoofWoofMooWoof Wed 28-Feb-18 19:38:26

I've just done a complex trauma training course at work!

I'm also a hypnotherapist, and great success is often achieved by regressing someone to a traumatic event, then having them relive it over and over again 'till they become 'desensitised' to it. This works well in the case of childhood trauma where the child brain isn't able to fully understand what's happening, and now you can relive that experience with the mind and understanding of an adult. This can be a difficult process of course, but it is much faster than 'regular' therapies, as you work directly with the subconscious.

noideawhereiam Wed 28-Feb-18 19:40:12

I know someone with severe PTSD who benefited greatly from EMDR. It was difficult, but the results have made a big difference to his life.

Unicornsandrainbows3 Wed 28-Feb-18 19:41:51

I do have plenty of grounding techniques but they don't always work. I tend to dissociate very quickly and with little warning. I know when it started and why, I know it was necessary and to a point still is as a protective mechanism but I'd love it to happen less than it does. I am working on it and v the rest of the symptoms but it is a struggle.

What should I be looking for in a therapist? EMDR training obviously but I've had some appalling therapists in the past and am not in any hurry to repeat the experience.

wellbanana Wed 28-Feb-18 19:52:51

Hi there
Sorry to hear you've been through such a horrendous time. The advice you've been given about timings is correct to a degree. Best practice advice with regards to legal proceedings is that you shouldn't do any 'reliving' of trauma memories if there is an ongoing investigation or court case. The purpose of the reliving part is to process and sometimes (depending on the type of therapy) to change the memories, so they are no longer traumatic. Doing this can affect the reliability of your testimony as far as a court is concerned, as your memories will have been manipulated to a degree through the therapy process.
However, that doesn't mean you can't start therapy with a focus on the more stabilisation phase (e.g. grounding to help with your dissociation).
I think you're best off finding a specialist trauma therapist (probably a psychologist) to assess you and help you think about the best approach. EMDR and trauma-focused CBT have a good evidence base but there are other approaches specifically aimed at multiple trauma and C-PTSD too. And then do some stuff to help with the dissociation. If it does got to court, it could stir up things further and it would be helpful to have some practiced strategies to help you in that event. I wish you the best with it.

chocolateworshipper Wed 28-Feb-18 20:21:45

I have known two people who had EMDR, and both found it helped. One of them had served in Iraq. I know that it is important to find someone who is properly qualified and has plenty of experience.

There are other techniques for helping with past trauma. Someone else I know had a combination of CBT and gradual exposure to the places that had triggered flashbacks.

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