Efficacy of EMDR for PTSD

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#1
I'm posting this here instead of cluttering the NDE Documentaries thread the post I'm responding to was in.

Pollux responded to this video posted about inducing ADCs (after death communications) using EMDR therapy. (Eye Movement Desensitization and Re-Processing).
Great vid. I've never heard of this EMDR--process for PTSD before, and the ADC-aspect to it was really interesting. It got me thinking of how they "unlock" sad and hurtful experiences -...

Maybe someone here has heard about this, and have a link to some source material of it. But it was something to this effect, as I remembered it. But it was this quite simple, yet effective way, without medication and years of therapy. to get some result - just like this EMDR-therpahy.
Well, anyway, interesting video, thx.
Regarding EMDR, the case isn't clear that is works better for PTSD than some of its practitioners claim. See here for example:
So, now to the bottom line: EMDR ameliorates symptoms of traumatic anxiety better than doing nothing and probably better than talking to a supportive listener. Yet not a shred of good evidence exists that EMDR is superior to exposure-based treatments that behavior and cognitive-behavior therapists have been administering routinely for decades. Paraphrasing British writer and critic Samuel Johnson, Harvard University psychologist Richard McNally nicely summed up the case for EMDR: “What is effective in EMDR is not new, and what is new is not effective.”
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/emdr-taking-a-closer-look/
or here:
What does Science Think about EMDR? – A Literature Review

EMDR is probably one of the most spectacular and most popular therapies in recent years for the treatment of mental disorders, especially for PTSD. EMDR has also been controversly discussed in the scientific world like no other treatment since it was first presented more than 10 years ago.

Is EMDR effective?

The most important questions that the treatment had and still has to face are definitely: is it more (or even less) effective than no treatment? and also: is it more (or less) effective than other common treatments? A lot of research has been conducted to answer this question that may be crucial for the survival of EMDR as a treatment for disorders like PTSD.

One of the research articles clearly in favor of the effectiveness of EMDR for the treatment of PTSD is a study by M.M.Scheck, J.A.Schaeffer and C.Gilette in the Journal of Traumatic Stress (1998). In this study 60 traumatized women were treated with either EMDR or an active listening (AL) control treatment. The AL control consisted of listening to the patient and non-evaluative acknowledgement of the patient’s reports. With the AL control condition the authors tried to control so called “placebo” factors such as rapport, sympathetic attention and expectation of gain. For the outcome-measures the Beck Depression Inventory, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Penn Inventory for PTSD, the Impact of Event Scale and the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale were used. Factorial ANOVA revealed that in both treatments an improvement of the patients’ state had taken place. However in the EMDR group this effect was significantly larger than in the AL group. This finding therefore stands for the superiority of EMDR against an AL treatment in PTSD treatment.

However, this study tells us nothing about the effectiveness of EMDR in PTSD compared to more commonly used PTSD treatments other than AL (not a broadly used PTSD treatment). One of the most recent evaluations on the effectiveness of EMDR was a meta-analysis conducted by Paul R. Davidson and Kevin C.H. Parker from the Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada (Davidson & Parker, 2001). A meta-analysis takes a look at a number of scientific research articles that all have one thing in common: The investigation of certain topic. These articles are then all put together. An overall test of statistical significance is then conducted in order to get an insight to a question all of those articles have dealt with.

In the Davidson & Parker meta-analysis EMDR treatment was compared to no treatment, treatment with not using exposure to anxiety-provoking stimuli and exposure therapy (a commonly used technique in PTSD treatment).

34 studies from 1988 to April 2000 were included in this meta-analysis. Effect sizes were then estimated for each study using Rosenthal’s formula. Effect sizes range from –1 to +1, a positive number indicates a positive effect of a treatment. After that was done an ANOVA with the obtained data was conducted.

The statistical evaluation showed an overall effect of EMDR when comparing pre- and post- treatment values (p£.01). According to the statistical analysis EMDR is also more effective than a no-treatment or a waiting list condition (p£.01) and more effective than non-specific (no-exposure) treatment (p£.05). However, there was no significant difference in the effectiveness of EMDR compared to exposure-therapy (in vivo or not in vivo) or to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

The question if EMDR is better than other widely used treatments for PTSD, such as exposure-based treatments, must therefore be answered with no. At least in the Davidson & Parker meta-analysis there was no evidence that EMDR is to be preferred over exposure-based treatments. Nonetheless EMDR has shown to be more effective than non exposure-based treatments or no treatment at all.
http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/EMDR_PTSD.htm#_What_does_science
It's probably best to be suspicious when something comes up as a "quick fix" for psychological trauma.

Having said that, that doesn't say anything about its effectiveness or role in inducing ADCs. I'm starting to watch the interview right now.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#2
I'll add this to the second source I quoted, since Allan Botkin is making a claim about EMDR's special "processing" abilities, in part related to the eye movement technique.

How essential are the eye-movements?

In a sub-analysis included in the Davidson & Parker meta-analysis 13 studies were examined that compared EMDR treatments with an eye-movement condition to an EMDR treatment with an eyes-fixed condition. After calculating effect-sizes and comparing those in a statistical analysis using multiple t-tests no benefit of EMDR treatments with eye-movements could be shown. Therefore there is no evidence that eye-movements, that once gave EMDR its name and probably are part of its fame, are a necessary component of EMDR therapy.

Conclusion

EMDR has so far failed to prove that is more effective than other standard treatments used for the treatment of PTSD. Also eye-movements that were supposed to be an essential part of EMDR seem to be of no significance. Since EMDR is such a new treatment it still suffers from a substantial variance in findings from study to study, which may account for its lack of superiority to other standard treatments. Even if EMDR may not be as successful as many therapists still believe it has definitely shown us one thing: that we must not only rely on old-fashioned therapies but that we should always keep our eyes and ears open for innovative treatments in the future.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#4
Some people with PTSD here recountering their adverse effects with EMDR. Someone mentions the dangers of doing it with multiple traumas. That would be my gues, unless the professional was very experienced and competent. I've seen a very dramatic video once of an extremely knowledgeable therapist in that field, but used the help of several other people, to help working through somebody having dissociative identity disorder (multiple identities).

https://www.myptsd.com/c/threads/emdr-lashback-when-emdr-goes-wrong.1388/

My feeling on it is it can probably work for some people, but I'm curious as to whether the effects last 1 year or 5 later. But again you can't generalize. It will depend on the patient, their whole clinical portrait, the quality of the therapist, etc. etc. I don't think the bilateral eye simulation (or sometimes they don't use the eyes, but taps on your knees, anything "bilateral"), accounts for the success of some cases.

I work in the field and was trained (during several intensive weekends), year ago, to become a certified EMDR practiontier. I did it with some patients, and got some success, like with someone with a straight airplane phobia, for example (imagining yourself in the airplane) and then going through the steps. But I think that person might have probably gotten similar results from another method that uses exposure in imagination.

I gave it up, as it doesn't really fit the rest of what I do and whom I am as a person, which is something you have to account for. I would never have used it on people I've seen that have multiple traumas, or complex trauma, trauma that's gone on for years by an abuser, for example. I get suspicious of someone having complex trauma, rather than an isolated incident, cured for life. You learn to live with it, and make it less triggering and process what you can, but human beings don't become clean slates. That's a materialistic view of people as machines, to begin with.
 
Last edited:
#5
I'm posting this here instead of cluttering the NDE Documentaries thread the post I'm responding to was in.

Pollux responded to this video posted about inducing ADCs (after death communications) using EMDR therapy. (Eye Movement Desensitization and Re-Processing).

Regarding EMDR, the case isn't clear that is works better for PTSD than some of its practitioners claim. See here for example:


or here:


It's probably best to be suspicious when something comes up as a "quick fix" for psychological trauma.

Having said that, that doesn't say anything about its effectiveness or role in inducing ADCs. I'm starting to watch the interview right now.
I can't comment on NDEs, but I can speak about the efficacy of EMDR. The World Health Organization has published Guidelines for the management of conditions that are specifically related to stress. Trauma-focused CBT and EMDR are the only psychotherapies recommended for children, adolescents and adults with PTSD. “Like CBT with a trauma focus, EMDR therapy aims to reduce subjective distress and strengthen adaptive cognitions related to the traumatic event. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): This therapy is based on the idea that negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours are the result of unprocessed memories. The treatment involves standardized procedures that include focusing simultaneously on (a) spontaneous associations of traumatic images, thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations and (b) bilateral stimulation that is most commonly in the form of repeated eye movements. Like CBT with a trauma focus, EMDR aims to reduce subjective distress and strengthen adaptive beliefs related to the traumatic event. Unlike CBT with a trauma focus, EMDR does not involve (a) detailed descriptions of the event, (b) direct challenging of beliefs, (c) extended exposure, or (d) homework.” (p.1) (Geneva, WHO, 2013).

Many organizations, professional associations, and departments of health of many countries, the US Dept. of Defense, and the VA, all have given their "stamp of approval" to EMDR therapy:
American Psychiatric Association (2004). Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Acute Stress Disorder and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines.
~EMDR therapy was determined to be an effective treatment of trauma.

Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense (2004, 2010). VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Post-Traumatic Stress. Washington, DC.
~EMDR therapy was placed in the "A" category as “strongly recommended” for the treatment of trauma.

Foa, E.B., Keane, T.M., Friedman, M.J., & Cohen, J.A. (2009). Effective treatments for PTSD: Practice Guidelines of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies New York: Guilford Press.
~EMDR was listed as an effective and empirically supported treatment for PTSD, and was given an AHCPR “A” rating for adult PTSD. This guideline specifically rejected the findings of the previous Institute of Medicine report, which stated that more research was needed to judge EMDR effective for adult PTSD.

SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (2011) http://nrepp.samhsa.gov/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=199. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
~This national registry (NREPP) cites EMDR as evidence-based practice for treatment of PTSD, anxiety and depression symptoms. Their review of the evidence also indicated that EMDR leads to an improvement in mental health functioning.


There are 24 randomized controlled (and 12 nonrandomized) studies that have been conducted on EMDR in the treatment of trauma. And more excellent research now on the role of eye movements, mechanism of action, and other RCS, not only on trauma and PTSD, but also on the use of EMDR therapy with generalized anxiety disorder, treatment of distressful experiences that fail to meet the criteria for PTSD, dental phobia, depression, body dysmorphic disorder, chronic phantom limb pain, panic disorder with agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and peer verbal abuse.

I'm a psychologist who uses EMDR therapy as my primary treatment psychotherapy and I've also personally had EMDR therapy for anxiety, panic, grief, and “small t” trauma. As a client, EMDR therapy worked extremely well and also really fast. As an EMDR therapist, and in my role as a facilitator who trains other therapists in EMDR therapy (certified by the EMDR International Assoc. and trained by the EMDR Institute) I have used EMDR successfully with panic disorders, childhood sexual/physical/emotional abuse and neglect, single incident trauma and complex/chronic PTSD, anxiety, depression, grief, body image, phobias, distressing memories, bad dreams and more...

To understand more about EMDR therapy, it's really crucial that the therapist spends enough time in one of the initial phases (Phase 2) in EMDR therapy that 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 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. 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. So if you start feeling overwhelmed or that it's too intense, you can ground yourself (with your therapist's help in session, and on your own between sessions) and feel safe enough to continue the work. In my practice, after the Phase 2 work lets us know that my patient is safe enough and able to cope with any emotion and/or physical sensation both during and between EMDR processing sessions, I often suggest we try a much less intense memory first if there is one that happened BEFORE the trauma(s). If there isn't one, then I suggest we start developmentally with the least disturbing memory and work our way "up" to the most disturbing event(s).

Grounding exercises are indispensable in everyday life, and really essential in stressful times. Anyone can 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 therapy 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 teaches readers lots of helpful techniques that can be used immediately and that are also used during EMDR therapy to calm disturbing thoughts and feelings.

One of the key assets of EMDR is that YOU, the client, are in control NOW, even though you likely were not during past 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, or hand/knee tapping - all forms of bilateral stimulation that should be decided by the client for the client's comfort) 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 or so passes of the lights to ask you to take a deep breath and to say just a bit of what you’re noticing. 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 having a therapist who is experienced in the EMDR techniques helps make it the gentlest and safest way to neutralize bad life experiences and build resources.

Pacing and dosing are critically important. So if you ever feel that EMDR processing is too intense then it might be time to go back over all the resources that should be used both IN session and BETWEEN sessions. Your therapist can use 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, and so forth. There are a lot of these kinds of "interventions" that ease the processing. They are called "cognitive interweaves" that your therapist can use, and that also can help bring your adult self's perspective into the work (or even an imaginary Adult Perspective). Such interweaves are based around issues of Safety, Responsibility, and Choice. So therapist questions like "are you safe now?" or "who was responsible? and "do you have more choices now?" are all very helpful in moving the processing along.

In addition to my therapy practice, I roam the web looking for EMDR therapy discussions, try to answer questions about it posted by clients/patients, and respond to the critics out there. It's not a cure-all therapy. However, it really is an extraordinary psychotherapy and its results last. In the hands of a really experienced EMDR therapist, it's the most gentle way of working through disturbing experiences.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#7
I can't help but wonder if EMDR has ever been used on Alien Abductees? ;-)
I'm sure it has (and is)!

I googled and couldn't find much, but found people here distinguishing PTSD from PAS: "post-abduction syndrome", and talking about EMDR.

https://www.myptsd.com/c/threads/alien-abduction-the-need-for-healing.1435/

More on PAS here:
http://aliensandchildren.org/post_abduction_syn.htm
http://www.rense.com/ufo6/pas.htm

There's this passage in Janet Colli's Sacred Encounters that indicates she's familiar with EMDR (and suggests she may have used it?). She's talking about the difficulties she and Will Bueche had making producers of a TV program on abductees understand the nature of the experience and going beyond their preconceived notions:

"The producers also needed to unlearn the perception that hypnosis dominates the recall of these events - a perception that emits normal memory, as well as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing), Reiki, and all the other techniques which suggest that unconscious elements of these experiences are only being held back by the sheer comportment of individuals." p. 53-54
 
Last edited:
#8
I had read an article a few years ago about EMDR that explained how EMDR might be a visual form of "bilateral brain stimulation" . I know there are many theories.
"Bilateral brain stimulation" consists of rhythmic bilateral stimulus, be it auditory, tactile or visual and it seems to be pretty effective for anxiety and phobias.

So similarly to following and object moving left and right as in EMDR, alternating tones or tactile stimuli can work effectively to release anxiety or phobia-inducing thoughts.

http://anxietyreleaseapp.com/what-is-bilateral-stimulation/
(this is not the article I have mentioned, which I can't find. I'll see if I can find it again)

I have never tried this, but I did try some "energy-psychology" exercises (similar to EFT) and they worked for releasing accumulated tensions and stress. I remember having had one of the most powerful bursts of laughter ever and then feeling very relaxed and peaceful. I used it on several other occasions when feeling stressed out. I don't know if it can help with more complicated problems but just for releasing some steam off it's not bad at all! :)

cheers

ETA: this is the book where I got the exercises from:
http://www.amazon.com/Promise-Energ...=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404899739&sr=1-1
 
Last edited:
#9
I'm sure it has (and is)!

I googled and couldn't find much, but found people here distinguishing PTSD from PAS: "post-abduction syndrome", and talking about EMDR.

https://www.myptsd.com/c/threads/alien-abduction-the-need-for-healing.1435/

More on PAS here:
http://aliensandchildren.org/post_abduction_syn.htm
http://www.rense.com/ufo6/pas.htm

There's this passage in Janet Colli's Sacred Encounters that indicates she's familiar with EMDR (and suggests she may have used it?). She's talking about the difficulties she and Will Bueche had making producers of a TV program on abductees understand the nature of the experience and going beyond their preconceived notions:

"The producers also needed to unlearn the perception that hypnosis dominates the recall of these events - a perception that emits normal memory, as well as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing), Reiki, and all the other techniques which suggest that unconscious elements of these experiences are only being held back by the sheer comportment of individuals." p. 53-54
Thanks Ian, I'll take a look throught this.

Main thing I'm wondering about was the ADC aspect of EMDR. I know there is some debate as to whether this is a "real" ADC. But, since hypnosis often seems to fall under suspicision with the abductee thing, whether it's leading the subject, or what have you, it would be interesting to see if EMDR brought about an induced experience in abductees that matches the same storyline that is coming out of hypnosis. Your last quote makes it sound like this is indeed the case.

[And, of course, John Mack also had patients that did not require any hypnosis, IIRC. Conscious recall was there from the get-go]
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#10
Main thing I'm wondering about was the ADC aspect of EMDR. I know there is some debate as to whether this is a "real" ADC.
I was wondering this listening to the video. I'd heard about EMDR inducting ADCs before, but I wonder if there's been any evidential-oriented approach to this. I didn't know this was already a subject of "debate". (Who? Where?)
 
#11
I was wondering this listening to the video. I'd heard about EMDR inducting ADCs before, but I wonder if there's been any evidential-oriented approach to this. I didn't know this was already a subject of "debate". (Who? Where?)
Nowhere specific, just always see that brought up in discussions about EMDR. However, didn't Alex interview a guy who practiced EMDR? I know I listened to a podcast somewhere where they discussed the reality of the ADC. Maybe it was linked to on the old discussion forum, because seems like we had a thread back then on this too.

Drpattijabe, what's your take on the reality of the induced ADCs?
 
#12
I have Allan Botkin's book and have been fascinated by this for a long time.

He was interviewed on Coast to Coast for a couple of hours the other night and I now notice somebody's put the interview up on You Tube.

The excellent George Knapp asks the questions.

Here’s the link. Botkin starts around 39 minutes in.



A past participant of this forum Dr Piero Calvi-Parasetti is also working with IADC and here are some links from his blog with related incidents from some of his clients:


http://drparisetti.com/blog/assisted-after-death-communication-i

http://drparisetti.com/blog/assisted-after-death-communication-ii


http://drparisetti.com/blog/real-help-grief-ii
 
Top