Eye-catching Therapy: Eye Movement Desensitization goes Mainstream
It had been almost six months since the accident, and Thomas felt himself getting worse, not better. He could not escape the screeching sound of the tires and shattering glass. He was unable to turn his mind off from the moment the truck slammed into his car. As time passed, his flashbacks and insomnia increased. Thomas, had difficulty driving and remembering where he was going. Thomas sought help with therapist, Dr. Gayle, who specializes in EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR involves a variety of techniques, not only eye movement.
After taking a history, Dr, Gayle handed Thomas two small disks that pulsed in his palms. He also wore headphones that delivered audio tones to alternating ears. The session continued for Thomas to think about images from the accident, and a negative belief he had about himself when he thought about the incident. She also asked him to rate that belief on a scale from 0-10, and how he hoped to transform it. After three sessions, Thomas said, “his panic attacks subsided”.
Where traditional therapies may take months, EMDR takes only a few sessions. EMDR was developed in the 1980s by Francine Shapiro and recently gained mainstream approval. Shapiro thinks EMDR effects are like that of REM, or rapid eye movement. Researchers say that during REM, the brain consolidates learning and memories; it is also when we dream. In 2004, the American Psychiatric Association and the departments of Veterans Affairs, and Defense have recommended EMDR as a method to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
EMDR sessions look something like this: The client identifies a problem. Then describes how the event creates a belief about the event. The client also states what they hope to believe about themselves in the future. In 15- to 20- second “sets the therapist has the client listen to tones and feel tactile pulses. The client recalls the event, as well as its sights, sounds, and smells. Meanwhile, the therapist continues the “sets.” Clients remain awake and aware. After each set, the therapist asks the client how their perceptions of themselves may have changed. “The client guides you,” said Dr, Gayle, who has used EMDR for several years. “As long as, the process is moving, we continue.”
“Some clients may require only one session of EMDR before finding the memory less disturbing, while others may need more. Three sessions seem to be the average. We schedule three Sessions for $460 (approximately 60-90-minute sessions) for three consecutive weeks. After one session, most people experience a lessening of negative emotions around the event, said Dr. Gayle. Many therapists think EMDR helps the rational left side of the brain to “knit” a disturbing memory from the emotional right side. Millions of people have been treated and research supports the remarkable claims made for EMDR therapy. Please Call Thriveworks and schedule your EMDR session now at 512.649.3050. You can email Dr. Gayle at DrGayle@thriveworks.com.