Today was my first EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy) session. An introductory session, a teaser if you will. A little preview of the program.
I was pretty tired but decided to play along. I had done my homework and written down the most painful memory I had. Actually, I was feeling spunky with the Adderall so I wrote down 5.
It’s a nice number.
Notes from my first EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Processing Therapy) Session.
What is EMDR?
EMDR therapy is recognized as an effective form of trauma treatment. The founder, Francine Shapiro, was walking in the park thinking through some of her own distressing memories. As she watched the ducks going back and forth she realized that the side-to-side lateral eye movements seemed to decrease the negative emotion associated with the negative memories. She assumed that eye movements had a desensitizing effect, and when she experimented with this she found that others also had the same response to eye movements.
My therapist told me that Francine wondered if there were any other times in which lateral eye movement seemed to benefit people and she had an epiphany – REM sleep!
The rest is history.
I Told Him My Homework
Since I have my homework pictured above, I won’t reiterate it. How did I guess we were going to start with items 4 and 5? I should’ve known. If you care to read about these items, I wrote about them in a little more depth in a post entitled, Forgiving My Dad’s Anger. It may turn out to be a series, I’m not sure yet.
I Made An Island
When we started, my therapist gave me a pair of headphones and two small ovular items that fit in the palm of each hand and had cords that plugged into a base unit along with the earphones. I asked what the heck this was all about and he explained that I would hear beeps in the headphones that alternated between each side, and at the same time the units in my hand would vibrate in sync with the beeps I was hearing. This was supposed to replace me following his moving hand with my eyes, sort of like the cops do when you get pulled over for a sobriety check.
So now that the instrument explanation was over, he had me shut my eyes and explained that I would be making an island. This was to be my safe place where no one could harm me and the entire island was surrounded by a forcefield. He had me tell him what I saw as well as what I smelled, heard, and felt.
I told him I saw white sand (unlike the nasty brown stuff indigenous to this area that sticks to your skin) and that it was fine like powder. I heard waves, seagulls, the wind blowing through huge palm trees, and somewhere waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the recesses of my mind, a screecher monkey howling deep in the forest, haha.
For the next 5-7 minutes, with the headphones on and the buzzers buzzing, I had to imagine myself sitting in a recliner just enjoying my island.
This is a technique we did in one of our NAMI meetings and is good for PTSD and those who suffer with anxiety. My girlfriend uses this in her DBT training as well.
How the Session Ended
So all that took about 45 minutes. We ended the session with him telling me that this would be a good practice for me to try. It slows the breathing and heart rate down and would do wonders to help me relax. He told me that when things got heavy (we would be “dredging” up a lot of old trees that had fallen and were buried deep) or too much, I would use this as my safe place until I came back down.
How Do I Feel About EMDR So Far?
I won’t lie, I’m a skeptic.
Even though it’s scientifically documented to be successful many times over, I am of the thinking that it’s a farce at this point.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to be open minded. But it’s going to take A LOT to get me on the other side of the fence.
Thank you so much for taking your time to read this post. I do appreciate it.
So what are your thoughts as readers? Have any of you undergone this type of therapy? Have you found it successful? Have you not? I’m looking forward to holding a dialogue with you in the Comments section.