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.