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Does anyone have experience with EMDR?

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My T was recently certified in EMDR therapy (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and suggested I consider it. She said it is an approved treatment method for PTSD but there have been successes in treating anxiety and depression also. She told me to research it, so I did. The only sites I have found which say it works for anxiety and depression are websites for therapists who use emdr. Many other sites say it has not been proven effective for anxiety or depression.

This therapy promises "rapid and effective" resolution of symptoms. In fact, 5 sessions is the average. I have a hard time believing it's that simple! It resonates with something my economics professor used to say: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

So I am wondering if anyone has tried EMDR, especially for anxiety or depression and, if so, how effective was it?

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Good morning Proverbs,

EMDR is effective for situations far beyond PTSD, Depression and Anxiety; however, many of these have no research base since the treatment model continues to expand beyond its' initial design. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence of efficacy.

I have even seen it used for athletes to improve their game-- an area since still in its' infancy. One thing is for sure-- it can't hurt!

On the issue of 5 sessions, we often use what's called single session therapy-- one session (a clear violation of your prof's dictum)! This, of course, sounds ludicrous; however, it is highly effective in family therapy, which is where I've had the most success with it. I will follow-up with a phone call 2 weeks later and make adjustments to the recommendations and will do a follow-up up to a year later. Done correctly, many problems can be resolved in <6 sessions, which goes against the grain of existing therapeutic thought. Understand that not everything is therapy material and that most of the time-- it is coaching on problem solving and rational thinking that is needed, which in turn teaches life skills that therapy often misses.

The NYTimes had an article on it recently:


which you may find eye-opening. My first exposure to it was via Moshe Tolman, who the article references, nearly 15 years ago.

Good luck and I hope this helps,

David O.

Edited by David O
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Thank you for replying, David. I gather from your response that you are a therapist certified to provide emdr therapy? Assuming that conclusion to be true, would you address a few questions/concerns?

1. If there is no single traumatic event whic triggers anxiety, panic or depression, how exactly does EMDR work for those patients? In other words, if there is no stored memory/response, what exactly is being desensitized?

2. Where can I find studies on the effectiveness of EMDR for anxiety, panic, phobias and depression which are not related to a traumatic event?

3. My T says that the mind will continue processing after the session is over and therefor it is important to have a good support network. So, what about patients like me who live alone with no real family around?

4. If EMDR is so effective for such a wide range of mental illnesses in such a short time, why isn't it used more frequently? It sounds like having the cure to cancer but people are still dying.

5. If EMDR is tried and is ineffective, does one simply return to traditional therapy?

6. If EMDR is effective, how quickly could I flush my meds and get on with my life?

7. What is the rate of relapse in patietnts with NONtraumatic mental illness?

Thanks again for taking the time to help me understand this. I'm trying to keep an open mind but need to be well informed before trying anything new!

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Good morning Proverbs,

Answering your questions would likely require a dissertation; luckily, others have done much of the work in responding to the confusion and/or issues raised by this unique treatment. The following research based site will likely answer all of your questions.



I'm not certified in EMDR and it was not available when I was in school or in my post doc fellowship (yep, I'm ancient):

Hopefully this will answer your questions and good luck. I would ask your questions of the therapist who will be providing the service,


HHhhmmmm, one quick question, what is the significance of the Biblical reference of Proverbs 31:28-- the description of a virtuous woman, which is the description of verses 10-31?

Edited by David O
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