Monday, June 20, 2011


EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It is proposed to help people deal with PTSD. It seems that somehow it helps the brain to process trauma in a much faster, more complete and less painful way that just traditional therapy.

Memorial Weekend we spent at the Council on Adoptable children camping trip. One of the parents is also a therapist and he was talking about how much help he feels EMDR is on PTSD. Most/all the kids adopted through the system have some forms of PTSD it seems. Our therapist has used it some. This dad talked about how to access the memory by just touching on it then do the EMDR causes the pain/fear/anger/sadness to go away yet the memory remains. I ask him how do I learn to do it. He gave me the wrong answer. "You can't. It is JUST for trained therapist." I filled that away with a, "OK, God if I am to learn this You will show me the way."

The next Thursday at therapy we were talking about it. I ask our therapist to explain it to my child that is very reluctant to get help. He is struggling with checking out from the world. I told her to stress that he doesn't have to get into the yucky memories, just touch them. She was skeptical, but was willing to try. She gave me some guidance in learning to do it. We have worked together for 6 years toward healing these children. She knows what we do all time and how much reading and research I put into things.

She was quite skeptical of it helping my child. I sort of pushed her to try it once with him. I ask her to stress he doesn’t have to go deep into the memory, just touch it. She explained it to him. He point blank said, "You mean a memory like ___?" Once she picked her jaw up she said yes and jumped into the EMDR. She has them rate the emotion from 1-10 with 10 being worse. Then they do the EMDR a few minutes and stop and rate it again and talk about it. She did this with him until his anger was a zero. That was his assessment of his anger. Since then over 2 weeks ago he hasn't checked out. HE is different. It is hard to explain how he is different other than he is in touch with reality in a better way. He is willing to help BEFORE he is ask.

Since then I have read one book and have three more on order for me to read on EMDR. I have used it on most of my other kids. My 13 yo dd won’t allow the therapist to do EMDR with her. She is afraid. She is starting to come to me with stuff and more than willing to do the EMDR with me. The first thing we “experimented” with was inappropriate thoughts. She ask me what to do about them, she didn’t want them, but they pop into her head when she is trying to do school or reading. We talked and did some very BASIC EMDR and off she went. I ask her daily and she hasn’t had those thoughts since. This is HUGE for her. She has since come to me and we have experimented with several other areas of her past that haunt her day and night. Each time it goes way and so for hasn’t come back. She is very honest with me on this stuff. We have been fighting it together for a couple of years, before that I fought for her as she didn’t even know she was supposed to fight.

All the kids are giving me positive feedback on how it makes them feel as they think of the past. How it helps them not dwell on stuff that happened before we adopted them. I see growth in all of them in ways that we were struggling before. I am not saying this is a magic bullet, but I am saying consider this if you have issues that “traditional” therapy isn’t reaching or that you struggle with reliving enough to deal with it.

One of the things I thought interesting in the EMDR book I read was the fact they don’t even try doing it on adults that don’t believe in a higher power. I really had mixed feelings going in with the therapist doing it on the kids. As I have read and studied it I find no harm, you aren’t hypnotizing them. They are very aware and will talk to you while you do it. It just seems to give them permission to look at memories and file them away without the pain and anger and other emotions connected to PTSD memories. One of the suggestions as to how it works has to do with stimulating both sides of the brain at the same time. It allows the different sides to see an issue from both the right and left side of the brain and then file it correctly.

This isn’t a standalone therapy, but a trust has to be established before this is even done. For us it is a answer to prayer on reaching one of my children that I was very concerned about spiraling out of control into mental illness brought on by abuse in their bio home.

Like everything there are good reviews and bad reviews on the net. I am just sharing what I see it doing in our home where issues are a dime a dozen and PTSD is a reality.  

Be gentle if you disagree :)


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