EMDR Self-Techniques

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
Is anyone doing any type of EMDR techniques on their own? If so, how is it going?

My therapist and I are doing a temporary split since he's out of state and found out that since he isn't licensed here, he shouldn't be working with me in a therapist capacity. Next week, he's giving me one free session as a coach and not a therapist. The point of this appointment is to teach me how to employ some EMDR techniques on my own since I confessed that I didn't intend to replace him right away. I am hoping to hire him as a coach after I go back to work (and can afford to) because he really is the best therapist I have had.

His attitude is that I am doing everything I need to be doing to manage my symptoms and life but my traumatic responses to many situations are so intense that no matter what I do after the fact, I am suffering a great deal physically and mentally. His hope is to help me dampen some of those responses.

The details, the memories, the pain and all the psychological shit has been pretty much talked to death for me and I have had a lot of trauma body work where major memories of abuse left me thinking I might choke to death on the table. I'm not scared of what is in there or what I might suddenly become aware of. I have enough clearly disturbing memories that I know that literally anything could happen and I feel totally ready for that.

Does anyone have any experience doing anything like this? I do have a copy of Getting Past Your Past and hope to employ some of the techniques therein but we are starting with a tone app for my headphones.
 
There are grounding techniques that share some of the same elements that EMDR uses - such as walking with a back and forth rhythm that famously made Francine Shapiro feel better and led her to develop EMDR. And then there's doing EMDR by yourself, which is really not a good idea.

I'd hope if you're getting the techniques from a therapist you're going to get the former and not the latter.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
oh hell no. there are some things i do on my own, lots in fact, and some of them i learned from t's that were emdr certified, but emdr is not one of them. it is a very specific treatment that i would not recommend doing alone, or even with a less than experienced t. ask me how i know.
if you are told to do emdr alone, dont. run. get a real t.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
ask me how i know.

I would like to know if you don't mind sharing.

I distinctly remember my therapist saying that there was not a good way to do EMDR alone but that there were some techniques we could talk about that are derived from EMDR that might be helpful.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
And then there's doing EMDR by yourself, which is really not a good idea.

It didn't sound like that was the ultimate plan. I don't know enough about any of this to use the correct language to describe what is happening but I know that he had discussed some ideas about using tones and tapping to help ground myself with the idea that when I am met with some traumatic trigger, I could get myself back to that headspace quickly.

However, he did mention dampening the initial response which I think is more directly EMDR. It is possible, however, that some of that was intended for when we work together in the future. I am afraid some of the information got jumbled.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
yes, there is a peace of mind that is part of EMDR, a "happy" place has to be established and it is important to have ways to get there after a troubling event is conjured up in therapy. Tapping, bilateral music, aromatherapy, lots of ways to lead your brain back through the maze to a safe place at the end of the session. I joke with my T that if he wants me to use aromatherapy to get back to a safe place, why not just call it what it is and have me eat a handful of croutons to help me find my way back like Hansel and Gretel's trail of breadcrumbs? Honestly, anything sensory that is associated with getting to a safe state is a tool to use and I do.
to answer the question- I know not to trust newb therapists because my first session was with a t who was also doing her first session alone with a patient. What a mess. I was streeted at the end of an hour in a state of......I am not sure I clearly remember it all.
It turned out she had been to a weekend seminar, done a little observation, and added the words EMDR to her shingle. I got started and basically dropped about 2 tons of shit in her office. I never went back but I realized I had experienced something that might work after trying ten years of stuff that didn't. I found better therapists and am still amazed at how I can reframe memories and let go of preconceived reactions to events that I have held onto for years using a well healed therapist as a guide.
It is a kind of "adjust as necessary" therapy, and I will never be a guinea pig for a newb t again. I sure as hell wouldn't do it alone .
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
It is a kind of "adjust as necessary" therapy, and I will never be a guinea pig for a newb t again. I sure as hell wouldn't do it alone .

Thanks for explaining that. This is all new territory for me. I feel unusually safe with this particular therapist, so it seems like he might be a good match for me for this sort of therapy, though I admit that I have not asked him how long he has been in practice. Based on my experience with therapists, he has been in the game a while.

I am sorry you had that experience. It's amazing how irresponsible mental health folks can sometimes be in dealing with other people's very real shit.
 

Freida

Sponsor
I've been doing emdr for almost two years and there is no way would I attempt it on my own. I had no idea what kind of nightmare I was opening up and getting myself grounded afterwards, even with my Ts help, is always a challenge. If I didn't have her there to stabilize me things would have gone much, much worse.

EMDR on your own might work for one simple trauma but for full blown ptsd? Nope. Way to dangerous.
 

Chris-duck

MyPTSD Pro
I've never done EMDR so I'm not 100% but I thought with the basic idea you could use it for non-trauma related things? I'm not sure how it'd work for someone with trauma cos obv potential to go sideways but it's not always meant for processing trauma stuff.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
but it's not always meant for processing trauma stuff.

I have also been under that impression. I think it is useful for anxiety even if you don't have or don't confront a traumatic event associated with the anxiety. This may be where some of my confusion over what my "coach" is planning to help me with next week. Maybe there is going to be some direct intro to EMDR but not for trauma processing?? I'm not really sure.
 
Last edited:

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
I had no idea what kind of nightmare I was opening up

I have been hearing a lot about how hard EMDR is to go through and I am curious, what do you think it is about the treatment that is so hard? Is it focusing on and confronting traumas? Is it because new traumas surface? Is it because trauma responses increase during the treatment? All of the above? All of the above and more?

I'm going into this after 15 years of talk therapy and CBT plus a few years of school counseling and a lot of bodywork and so I can't help but wonder if my hardest days of treatment are behind me. I'm really struggling with the notion that this is going to suck ass after everything else already sucked ass. It makes me wonder if it is even worth it to do any EMDR.
 
what do you think it is about the treatment that is so hard? Is it focusing on and confronting traumas?
Yes.
Is it because new traumas surface?
Not all the time, but sometimes.
Is it because trauma responses increase during the treatment?
They can definitely increase after going through a session of EMDR - this is why it is vital to have a good repertoire of grounding skills before starting.
It makes me wonder if it is even worth it to do any EMDR.
I swear by it because as difficult as it can be to do, it really works. One of my worst and least productive thoughts that I had for 15 years was that I was a monster. After a couple sessions of EMDR, that thought was completely gone. With talk therapy alone, getting that thought to shift would have taken years, if it was even shiftable at all. It took me less than two hours to get rid of it with EMDR.
 
Top