Monday, April 28, 2008

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) --
Effective For Military's PTSD Symptoms

The Department of Defense now encourages troops to seek psychological counseling, having recently eased its policy on disclosure mandates. I applaud this initiative, especially since about one in eight of our American soldiers are reportedly returning from Iraq, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As treatment, the Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs Practice Guidelines have also placed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in the highest category, recommended for all trauma populations, at all times.

EMDR is a form of psychotherapy that assists patients in resolving disturbing memories. It is imperative that any lingering misconceptions surrounding its efficacy be dispelled, in order that more soldiers are afforded the opportunity to alleviate their suffering, by applying this remarkable therapeutic approach.

As a Pennsylvania psychologist, I have been using this form of therapy, since 1995. Most of the concerns, about EMDR, seem to have been centered upon the notion that there existed little evidence for its use as one of psychotherapy's "empirically supported treatments." In so much as it is vital that no health care provider do patient harm, my question is to consider the harm that could occur, however, if EMDR is not offered as a timely treatment option.

Throughout the years, it has been my experience that EMDR seems to help patients make a link between what they "know" to what they "feel." This "break-through" is invaluable, especially with the trauma patient who is finally able to resolve their torment. Numerous studies also appear to support this same contention that EMDR offers a protocol and treatment approach that is efficacious, time efficient, and particularly indicated when dealing with patients with trauma-based issues, like many of our young soldiers.


idoexist said...

Jerry, have you noticed, through your experience with facilitating EMDR, if there is a "time limit" between the trauma and the use of EMDR? Does the length of time between events change your application or reduce the effectiveness of EMDR?

iamjerry1 said...

The sooner EMDR is used, the sooner the patient will discover relief. It can also offer significant symptom abatement, even if the emotional, trauma-based issue occurred many years prior to the treatment intervention.

In order to understand this phenomenon, it is important to consider the fact that the "desensitization" of EMDR is actually now considered an "artifact" of a broader "Adaptive Information Processing" (AIP) Model. In other words, EMDR assists the sufferer in naturally changing their neuroassociations of the trauma-based experience. It is this change that generates the subjective experience of "desensitization" or emotional relief, whether initiated near or far from the catalyst event.