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Has anyone tried EMDR for PTSD issues?

Discussion in 'Alternative Therapies' started by Dreambirdie, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    It is a lot. I don't know anyone off the bat. The other 2 people I called had no openings.

    Oh well...
  2. beaker

    beaker CFS/ME 1986

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    Did you ask the original therapist if they would work on a sliding scale ? many of them will knowing you are on disability.
    If they don't/won't ask them if they know of anyone else that does or that will take whatever insurance you have if you have medicare or ? or maybe find someone just starting out who may be willing to work on a sliding scale .

    good way to get referral for any women's health issue ( and ask for those that will take medicare or medicaid or will work on a sliding scale) is to contact your local and /or regional planned parenthood center(s). I would imagine that they would especially have names of ptsd counselors. whether or not they do emdr would be another matter.( you may just have to take a list of counselors and make calls ) but when you do call to ask one, if they don't do it or can't work with you financially ask them if they know of anyone too. I know I know takes a lot of energy to make calls. Not sure where you are with that. But a little at a time.

    fwiw-- other good community resources for referrals would be : catholic charities ( no you don't have to be catholic) and jewish community centers ( no don't have to be jewish )
    I'm sure there are other resources like that too.
    The cancer society or other organizations for other illnesses that are well established in your area may be willing to help you out as well.

    good luck.
  3. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    beaker She has no sliding scale. And I have no insurance.

    The reason this woman was appealing is that she does not use toxic products and has an office that is eco-safe for me. I have MCS and that is a big factor. It took me close to a year to find her.

    For now, I am done looking. If something comes up, then it will happen on its own without much more of my effort. In the mean time I am going to check out the CD you recommended and the book someone else did.
  4. beaker

    beaker CFS/ME 1986

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    I'm sorry about the no insurance thing. I hope that will change for you in the near future.
    Dreambirdie likes this.
  5. gretac

    gretac

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    Hi, Dreambirdie.
    I'm familiar with EMDR, EFT (tapping technique), TAT, and WHEE, both as a practitioner and as a recipient. EFT, TAT, and WHEE are easy to self-administer, have similar results as EMDR, and if anything are even gentler than EMDR. And they're free!

    To begin your exploration of these, if you're interested, I recommend:
    Check out TAT first (the simplest and gentlest) at:
    http://www.tatlife.com/
    with a free instruction manual you can download here
    http://www.tatlife.com/booklet
    and demonstrations to get you started, e.g.
    http://www.tatlife.com/do-this-first

    Then check out WHEE, a hybrid of EMDR and EFT:
    Here's a video that demonstrates just one example of the basic process

    You substitute whatever concern you want to address, and, like with TAT, you can wrap it all up into one "bundle" or address different aspects as they arise. I think if you explore the TAT protocols first, it can help guide what you focus on with WHEE - or you can just follow your own stream-of-consciousness. Just make sure you end when you're in a soothed, calm place, with positive affirmations.

    EFT is the most complex, in that it works by tapping on the specific end-points of acupuncture meridians on the face, torso, and hands. But once you've learned it, it's really effective too. There are lots of youtube demonstrations out there - I don't have a favorite, but this guy has a good introduction without jarring bouncy music in the background!


    Also (caveat), you kinda have to ignore the new age-y claims accompanying some of these that emotional issues cause all physical disorders and doing these will cure whatever's wrong with you!
  6. Phil

    Phil

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    Hey xchocoholic
    Doctors not understanding me is darned unpleasant but personally I reserve the word trauma for more
    intense events than that. And hopefully there aren't many trauma therapies that remove your memory
    of past events because you always need to learn from past events to avoid future trauma. So after EMDR you
    should not be any more or less surprised to meet people who are not helpful. And if you are advocating awareness in dealing with unpleasant encounters then I totally agree.
  7. sianrecovery

    sianrecovery Senior Member

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    EMDR has been quite well studied, and people speak well of it. I think you need a good practitioner though - the guy that was recommended to me started to cry in our second session (honestly, not making it up) when I was talking through some of my 'material'. I called the session to a halt and didn't go back. I've got nothing against empathy, but you at least need to feel the bloody therapist is strong enough to hold the session.
    golden likes this.
  8. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    WOW! That is a bit crazy.

    I have heard other stories like this, so in a way it doesn't surprise me. But still... o_O
  9. Misfit Toy

    Misfit Toy Senior Member

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    I have had EMDR. I wasn't gong to say anything for fear of seeming like a downer, but it didn't help me but one of the reasons is because I have CFS, like everyone else here. And, for me, having CFS means I have a lot of brain fog. So, therapy sometimes just doesn't work and even the EMDR. I feel like you have to be out of a flare to do it and how do you know when that will be? You can't cancel the day of therapy if you are super sick. It requires concentration and clear thinking. If you are overly brain fogged, it's not going to penetrate. I had to have this thing in my hand that kept buzzing like a shock. I left there feeling completely stressed out and unwell.

    Having said that I know it works. But, I feel like so many therapies don't work for us because of the wall of fog, pain and illness that doesn't allow us to really absorb or take in what the therapy is doing.

    My friend keeps wishing I would do "mindful thinking therapy." Another type of therapy that is the rage. But, again...how can I be mindful when my concentration can be good one day and crap the other? There are too many variables with this illness. Today was a day where I was so tired that my mind is/was blank. Is that being mindful? I wouldn't even know how to be mindful, I am that fatigued.
  10. Mr. Cat

    Mr. Cat Senior Member

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    I also have experience with EMDR, and it can be f*cking amazing. But Spitfire is right - I think for any kind of therapy to be effective, the mind has to have a certain degree of self-reflectivity. When a tired, foggy brain looks at itself, no wonder it doesn't find much to grasp on to. I have experienced one exception, though. It's a little off-topic, but a couple of years back, I scheduled a session with a woman trained in Somatic Experiencing, a somatic trauma therapy. It turned out I was very brain-foggy that day, so really wasn't expecting much to happen. We did some somatic resourcing exercises with the brain fog, though, and it did lessen somewhat and I felt some relief.
    I think this is because PWCs, or others with chronic conditions, react to the illness when it flares up as we would to any other trauma - with fear, aversion, hypervigilance, numbing, heightened sympathetic nervous system response, etc. We feel out of control, and don't know when it will end. In my case, I believe the SE resourcing didn't do much for the brain fog, but it did calm down the nervous system that was reacting to, and exacerbating, the brain fog. It was basically just resourcing tricks to deal with trauma symptoms, though, not working through underlying issues.
    As far as therapy goes, when I have had bad CFS, I couldn't really work on any psychological issues - CFS/ME IS the issue! Besides, my brain was really too foggy to have that many psychological issues. Once again, I think Maslow's hierarchy of needs is relevant here - only after the basic needs are met (including a healthy-enough brain and body), can we even think about higher needs. I've been feeling better for about 6 months or so, and in that time have been doing some psychological work that was basically put on hold, along with everything else, for 2.5 years during my last crash.
    Dreambirdie and sianrecovery like this.
  11. gretac

    gretac

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    Sorry to cut your post.
    My understanding of mindfulness is that it is simply being aware of what is without judgment. When you wrote "Today was a day where I was so tired that my mind is/was blank. Is that being mindful?" you were, in fact being mindful right then. Just being aware of being brain-foggy allows mindfulness to work; the challenge is the "without judgment" part, and that's where Mr. Cat's point about calming down the nervous system fits in - getting rid of the reaction to the symptom makes it easier to just be with the symptom itself... I'm a little brain-foggy myself this morning, so not sure how clear I'm being.
    I think (ha) take the "thinking" out of it, and just consider "mindfulness" - and not necessarily as therapy, but as a practice we do whenever it occurs to us. That in itself is mindfulness. (I think the "mind" part of the name is confusing: we think it means using the mind to think, when it's the bigger sense of "mind" as a perceptual organ, not just high-level processing.)
    Kinda rambling - I'll quit for now!
    The Spitfire and Dreambirdie like this.
  12. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Interesting and good to know. For now I have given up on finding an EMDR practitioner. But I am curious to know more about the Somatic Experiencing.... Is it also focused on trauma release?


    I know exactly what you mean about how reacting to our symptoms can exacerbate them. I spent quite a number of years working with a very brilliant local therapist, whose practice is focused on helping those with chronic and life threatening illnesses. He is a cancer survivor himself, so that has given him personal experience into the issues faced by those with debilitating health problems. The most useful thing I got out of my sessions with him was to learn better observation skills about my symptoms, and in particular to observe and carefully INVESTIGATE (that is one of his favorite words), how I am reacting to my symptoms, what I am telling myself about them, and what part (if any of that) "is true."

    It's amazing how much crap we tell ourselves that is absolutely NOT true, and unfortunately we believe it and act as if it IS true, and make ourselves more miserable in the process. It's a bad habit to break, because the mind seems to love to indulge in yakking away about untruths, and catching it in the act requires a certain amount of presence and self discipline. Having brain fog certainly doesn't help that process. But even a little acknowledgement of "there goes my whacky mind again" can be a good thing. It can take the edge of some of my worst symptoms when I stop adding to the burden with my useless inaccurate conclusions.
    gretac likes this.
  13. Mr. Cat

    Mr. Cat Senior Member

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    Somatic Experiencing was developed by Peter Levine. He wrote a book about it called "Waking the Tiger." I have not studied it extensively, but know that it, as with many other somatic trauma therapies, works a lot with resourcing (working with a person to be easily able to access positive states). Once a person is sufficiently resourced, they can explore the traumatic material. Therapy may use a process of pendulation, in which the person explores the traumatic material, then, if it becomes too overwhelming, is directed back to a resourced state, back to the traumatic memory for a bit, and back and forth again. The point is that most of us dissociate from traumatic material if we get too much of it at once, so you have to work with it in little pieces, a process known as titration.
    In my experience, I was directed to look around the room at things that I enjoyed looking at, then feel the sense of that enjoyment in my body, looping back and forth. We can really do this with all of the senses, including the internal felt sense "Even in the midst of pain, see if you can find a place in your body that feels neutral, or even pleasant", but the visual sense is a good one. One of the scary things about being in a crash/flare up is the sense of feeling out of control, and by learning/practicing these resourcing techniques, we learn that we have more control over our mind states than we thought.
    That's the resourcing part. The trauma release part supposes that we have some basic reactions to a traumatic situation (Fight, Flight, Freeze, and the lesser-know Fawn, in which we appeal to the mercy of our attacker, if an attacker exists). According to Levine's theory, when faced with a traumatic situation, we have an initial Fight or Flight reaction, but if neither of those reactions is realistic, we resort to a numbing Freeze, which is how trauma is stored in the body. A Fight or Flight reaction wanted to happen, but was Frozen. SE, and other traumatic therapies work somatically with the impulse that wanted to happen, under the belief that if the original impulse is completed, the trauma can be resolved. Other trauma theories, such as Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, operate under similar assumptions.
    A while back, I posted the assumption that chronic illness, as it messes with our nervous systems as a trauma would, can be thought of as a trauma, and, if so, the mental suffering caused by it may be able to be partially ameliorated through somatic trauma therapies. I didn't find much on the topic out there, though. I think having a bad flare-up is akin to being physically tortured, in which one is subjected to physical pain, is unable to escape or make it stop, and doesn't know when it will end. In this case, a dissociative response would be quite appropriate. In the case of CFS/other chronic illness, I think the resourcing aspects of SE and other such therapies can be quite helpful. I'm not sure if the trauma release work would be all that helpful, though, unless there were specific associated traumatic memories, as the traumatic stressor (the illness) is ongoing. What might be helpful is an increased ability to tolerate the process of looking at painful sensation "as it is," without judgment or dissociating - the mindfulness mentioned by others above.
    Dreambirdie likes this.
  14. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Mr. Cat Thanks for elucidating what SE is about. It sounds really interesting.

    I agree with your perceptions here (my bolds):

    I have often felt trapped and tortured by my illness during the really bad flares. I find that what helps me most during those times is expressing how I feel through process painting. I find it easier to be with my feelings when I am painting them, than when I am just sitting there with myself, trying to be mindful. (Sitting meditation at those moments does in fact feel like torture and punishment to me.) Maybe it's because I am so kinesthetic in how I process things... maybe it's due to the agitation I feel when I am exhausted or toxic... whatever the case, I find that "being with" those kind of uncomfortable (trapped and tortured) emotions is a lot more stressful than finding some way to express and release them. On the days when I am too weak to paint, I will get in the tub and chant or wail about how I feel--vocalizing the feelings out of my body. It really does help release the pressure. After that, I can sometimes actually find a way to tolerate the pain and discomfort I feel, without the overreaction and judgment.
    Mr. Cat likes this.
  15. Mr. Cat

    Mr. Cat Senior Member

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    I have heard from several places that long periods of meditation are actually contraindicated for trauma, as they allow the nervous system to get dysregulated and flooded. You've got to work on the nervous system first before you work on the mind. I enjoy meditation, but only when I am well enough, otherwise I give my mind a rest and don't push myself to do it. Expression sounds like a good alternative, providing the energy is there to express. I find that various physical and mental self-care things I have found to be helpful are effective for me during these times, first, because they work, and second, because I am reminded that I have some control over my situation, which helps calm the nervous system down more.
    Dreambirdie likes this.
  16. Leon

    Leon

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    I received EMDR for around 2-years to help me deal with childhood issues. It was extremely helpful. The best thing about it, I found, was that you can often create a new narrative around the event, or new feelings, which are manifestly healing. I did find it tiring: I would feel waves of anxiety being unlocked connected with trauma. But the payback was that my anxiety levels went down overtime; and I'm not convinced they would have done otherwise.

    I can't speak of it highly enough.
    Dreambirdie likes this.
  17. JAM

    JAM Jill

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    There is a free book on Amazon that lays out all the steps for EMDR and several aps for for the eye movement portion. I had several sessions with a therapist, and done a bit on my own, both have been successful.
    golden and Dreambirdie like this.
  18. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    This sounds good. Did it take 2 years to feel the benefits? That seems a long time.
  19. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    I couldn't find it. Could you post the link. thanks.
  20. Patti Levin

    Patti Levin

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    EMDR therapy cannot and should not be self-administered! Attempting to use a complex therapy on serious psychological problems by oneself is like looking in the mirror and talking, and assuming what you're doing is psychotherapy.

    One of the initial phases (Phase 2) in EMDR therapy involves preparing for memory processing or desensitization (memory processing or desensitization - phases 3-6 - is often referred to as "EMDR" which is actually an 8-phase method of psychotherapy). In this phase resources are "front-loaded" so that you have a "floor" or "container" to help with processing the really hard stuff. In Phase 2 you learn a lot of great coping strategies and self-soothing techniques which you can use during EMDR processing or anytime you feel the need.

    Grounding exercises are terrifically helpful. You can also 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). Anyway, the book is terrific. It's 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.

    As I’ve mentioned about Phase 2, during EMDR therapy you learn a lot of great coping strategies and self-soothing techniques which you can use during EMDR processing or anytime you feel the need. You learn how to access a “Safe or Calm Place” which you can use 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 is that YOU, the client, are in control NOW, even though you probably weren’t in the past, during upsetting or traumatic events. 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) 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 ask you to say just a bit of what you’re noticing. (The stimulation should not be kept on continuously, because there are specific procedures that need to be followed to process the memory). 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 techniques that help make it the gentlest and safest way to detoxify bad life experiences and build resources.

    Pacing and dosing are extremely important! So if you ever feel that EMDR processing is too "shattering” then it might be time to go back over all the resources that should be used both IN session and BETWEEN sessions. Your therapist should be using a variety of techniques to make painful processing less painful, like suggesting you turn the scene in your mind to black and white, lower the volume, or, erect a bullet-proof glass wall between you and the painful scene, or, imagine the "abuser" speaking in a Donald Duck voice... and so forth. There are a lot of these kinds of "interventions" that ease the processing! Bringing your adult self into the memory is a great strategy. Your therapist can use what we call "cognitive interweaves" to help bring your adult self's perspective into the work as well. Such interweaves are based around issues of Safety, Responsibility, and Choice. So T questions like "are you safe now?" or "who was responsible? How big were you compared to how big was the perpetrator?" and "do you have more choices now?" are all very helpful in moving the processing along.

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