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Has EMDR Worked For Anyone With Childhood Abuse PTSD?

Discussion in 'Treatment & Therapy' started by blindsided, Sep 7, 2007.

  1. blindsided

    blindsided New Member

    I've recently started emdr therapy for PTSD caused by sustained childhood trauma. The therapist says that because the trauma occurred over a long period of time, progress will be slow but that the prognosis is good.

    I just searched the forum and there's a lot of stuff that has me concerned that the outcome may do more harm than good.

    Are there any success stories? Has anyone had good results with emdr therapy for sustained childhood abuse based PTSD?
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  3. pandora

    pandora I'm a VIP

    I found EMDR caused an increase in my symptoms and have since found that it can cause adverse effects for someone that has suffered numerous traumas. Mine was definately not a success, CBT, exposure therapy and this forum are my success storues. Good Luck!
  4. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    I think thats a great question and would love to have some positive feedback. I have seen lots who have one or two trauma only have great success with EMDR, though some have relapsed since it and back to square one. For the most part, it can be quite effective though for one or two traumas. Only seen negative consequences thus far with multiple / childhood trauma.

    I would love to hear some positive feedback from something such as prolonged childhood abuse. I wonder if anyone exists? I am more curious as to who the game physician was in the first place to do it!
  5. 2quilt

    2quilt I'm a VIP

    hand raised

    Me. I raise my hand.
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  6. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    Please explain 2quilt?
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  7. 2quilt

    2quilt I'm a VIP

    EMDR success

    oh boy. This is hard for me.
    I am an incest survivor, by both parents, from evidently a very young age. Also a survivor of physical abuse, multiple rapes, emotional abuse, etc.
    I began therapy at 29 yrs. old. group therapy was okay, but it's difficult for me to open up in a group and dilvulge too much detail. One on one therapy worked well once I found a therapist that I trusted, and that took some time. EMDR was very successful. If you need me to explain the steps, I will do that for you. But basically, we decided to choose one specific moment of the abuse. (As you probably know, in abusive homes, there are rituals, repeated daily, nightly, weekly. ) I chose very painful, possibly the most painful memory of my childhood, a ritual, that my mother did to me at night in my bed.We did the EMDR in the steps, and I cried and sobbed throughout the entire thing and really let myself cry like I had never cried before. In between the steps of EMDR, the therapist stopped to let me cry and we talked, and I breathed and we talked, once I could speak, about what was going on in my head. Then when I was ready, we continued with the EMDR. This therapy session was not your normal 60 minutes, and I made sure that I had nowhere else to be after this appointment, because I was an absolute mess for the rest of the day. So, we did this over and over until my crying slowly stopped. And, you know, it did.
    What I learned about EMDR is that (correct me if I am wrong) our trauma is like unorganized words on paper that is on piles of unorganized paper dumped on the floor. EMDR works like REM sleep does while you sleep in that your eyes move back and forth, organizing the day's events into relevent and irrelevent information; some stuff gets dumped into the trash, and some information gets reorganized and filed away neatly to be found later by the brain when the brain needs it. During EMDR, we focus just on one tiny event, just that one 60-seconds of time, over and over, for the brain to find it, gather it up off the floor, and organize it all out of that mess on the floor, and file it neatly.
    In my own experience, I can tell you that before EMDR that thinking about that ritual would make me cry hysterically for a long time. After EMDR, it still hurts to think about that ritual, but I can do it without crying; I now think that 2quilt survived because she is strong, she is resilient, she overcame what she thought was impossible. 2quilt did not die. I can now look at that situation from an adult's viewpoint, not from the viewpoint of a frozen 2quilt on the bed at 4 year's old.
    I am not 29 years old any more, that was a long time ago, and EMDR treatment does not last forever. I am getting EMDR therapy again now. But I can tell you that this treatment I am getting now is not half as intense as the first go round I had back then. I healed a tremendous amount from EMDR therapy the first time. It was difficult the first time because I cried really hard, and I had to think about my trauma and talk openly and detailed about my trauma, and cry loud. And I cried! My depression really hit hard, but I had a loving boyfriend at the time and the medication I was on worked for me. EMDR is difficult because you have to trust your therapist to talk about the details of your trauma openly, to be able to cry openly with your therapist, you have to be willing to face your trauma, all the ugly details of it, and talk about them, and to let yourself cry out loud. Let it all out.
    If you do try EMDR, remember, you can say stop at any time. You are in control. You are the customer!

    <moderator edit to remover trigger warning. You can read more about why we don't use trigger warnings here : Community Constitution | My PTSD Forum >
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2017
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  8. She Cat

    She Cat Policy Enforcement Banned Premium Member Sponsor $100+

    I just wanted to give you tons of hugs for being able to open up here about your abuse, and your therapy....

    Yes you are a survivor, you are strong, and you will survive.

    Many many hugs, warm and soft for the hell that you have gone through and the courage to survive.....

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  9. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    Thanks 2quilt, much appreciated for that. It really is quite rare to find someone who sufferer as you did and EMDR was effective where it didn't produce an overload. At a rough guess, your EMDR therapist was highly experienced and trained in how to do it and minimize the risk to near nothing regarding brain damage. From what I believe, Dr. Shapiro who is the inventor of EMDR can achieve such results as well, even though she as the creator recommends that it not be used for multiple indepth trauma, though obviously weighs up the risk herself. EMDR has been around for a long time, and I believe it will only get better in helping more people, that is just my personal opinion.

    I don't believe it is EMDR that is so much the issue, but more the person delivering the technique. There are simply far too many gun ho therapists who persuade people into it without having the experience or knowledge how best to use it or obtain the desired results, they simply experiment without consent is what I'm saying. The poor sufferer though ends up with brain damage, they just discard the failures it seems.

    I am really happy for you though 2quilt, in that you had someone who knew what they where doing and successful for you. Great news.
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  10. kers

    kers I'm a VIP

    2quilt, it's good to hear that the EMDR has helped you so much. there's so much relief in being able to talk about the past without drowning in it, and that's clear in your account of the EMDR as well.

    blindsided's question was about the effectiveness of EMDR therapy, and Anthony directed te emphasis back to the quality of the therapist, and i'm inclined to agree. much of 2quilt's description of how/why the therapy worked was similar to my own basic talk/exposure therapy. i think for prolonged trauma treatment, it's all about finding a good therapist who pushes (but not too much) that you can trust.
  11. dontknow

    dontknow New Member

    I couldn't agree more with the warning to choose your therapist.
    I have had it from 2 different people.
    The first was someone who seemed eager to do it without going into all my probs - i have prolonged childhood trauma and very dissociative and was saying that it was really good and helped lots of people etc etc. We did one session, and that afternoon I went home and attempted suicide.

    The new therapist I now see is a lot more experienced and in the beginning I was no way am I doing EMDR again. But she has built up my trust, and explained lots of things to me, and was reluctant to do it until I had been seeing her for ages and she also made it clear that it wasn't a cure all. It is another tool that can be helpful to some. So I've let her try again, I can't say I have improved much yet but I haven't got worse and haven't tried to kill myself afterwards.

    But I have to say that I still don't see how it is any different from in vivo exposure techniques.

    I think a sure sign that your therapist is inexperienced is if they try to bring it up and rush into it and claim that it is fantastic and cures everyone. The better ones seem to be a bit more cautious in who they use it with, and don't make ridiculous promises of cures.

    btw anthony, maybe I'm being a bit pedantic, probably some of my OCD tendencies and medical back ground but i dislike your term 'brain damage' because that implies an insult has happened to your brain causing cell death. although emdr can certainly worsen things, it is not necrosis of neurons - maybe something like further psychological damage would be more appropriate.
  12. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    Hey dontknow, what you say is correct for the most part, however; EMDR can and has medically proven possible worst case side effects of permanent brain damage, meaning exactly what it is, cell death. It has completely brain damaged some people in its course of trials and procedures, and I mean absolute vegetable state. I am not sure how as a doctor you would classify it, but that is my understanding of permanent brain damage, being it kills brain cells permanently.

    User becvan is proof of that, she received minor brain damage from an inexperienced EMDR therapist performing something they shouldn't have been performing. The dangers are pretty extreme for EMDR at worst case.
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  13. Lisa

    Lisa Well-Known Member

    Sticking my two scents in here, even though I have only skimmed the posts! I think, like most therapies, it is *how* it is done, and also how the relationship is (depending on the treatment being used) between therapist and client, and how well the therapist knows the client to know when too much is too much. EMDR may be done the same way, steps wise... but it takes someone very good at their treatment implementation, and also a therepeautic relationship that has good understanding between the two people. I think that applies to a lot of things really.

    From what I know, what I have read around the net, in books and on this forum, EMDR is the dark horse in psychology... nobody knows exactly how it works, or why. But it does for some, and doesn't for others... most research is showing that it is not suitable for most multiple trauma cases (though it would appear 2quilt is an exception to that rule! Very pleased for you, and really glad you took the time to write out your experience... it is nice to know it works out for some), but is very effective for other 'kinds' of trauma.

    Personally, for me, because EMDR is still very new and not understood too well, and as Anthony highlighted, may not only not help, but can actually worsen and permanently damage a person... I approach it with caution. Though if I was somebody with trauma from one incident, I would give it a go probably
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