When I first trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), I was so impressed with the effectiveness of the technique, I said, “Wow, now we have Penicillin!”, meaning, now we have a methodology as effective as Penicillin for psychotherapy. EMDR has been shown through research to facilitate the movement of memory from the areas of current memory to the areas of past memory in the brain. This is powerful because traumas, conclusions, and feelings reside in current memory and jump out, interfering with our functioning intermittently or on an ongoing basis. This can be improved or corrected.
EMDR is useful for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), triggers for various feelings such as anger, anxiety, inappropriate eating, sadness/depression, etc. It helps the mind move from a stuck place to a place of health with regard to thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
The person for whom I decided to take the training was a middle-aged woman who had severe agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms of anxiety in situations where the person perceives the environment to be unsafe with no easy way to get away. As it turned out, she was dealing with unresolved grief from her college days, a major loss that haunted her moment to moment. Her anxiety had become debilitating. She was able to drive to my office which was just over the town line from her. Driving further was impossible.
We had worked together for a period of time and then I began using EMDR with her. Slowly, her anxiety improved, she was able to grieve the death of this crucially important person in her life and began to be able to drive farther and farther from her home. Ultimately, she drove across the country to visit a relative, something she has done repeatedly since. The first time it was with a friend but now she makes those journeys ALONE! This client had been on anti-anxiety medication since college. She is now entirely off of anxiety medication.
I worked with another woman who, the first time we did EMDR, did what I call “take inventory”. Her mind jumped from one memory to another. One of those memories was of being molested as a young woman. She had not gone out alone after dark since. Her mind alighted on that memory very briefly, so briefly that she didn’t even think to mention it to me until the next session when she told me that she went out alone after dark for the first time in decades.
I have worked with children, adolescents, adults, and elderly folks with EMDR. It can be very helpful working with people who, for whatever reason, are uncomfortable with the “talk” part of “talk therapy”.
The mind wants to be healthy and given the chance, will find its way to health. EMDR gives the mind that chance.