Why does EMDR therapy not affect me? - Forums at Psych Central


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Old 01-10-2019, 03:06 PM #1
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Default Why does EMDR therapy not affect me?

Hello, i am seeking information from psychologists or other professionals in the field only (or someone who can help me with useful links i was unable to find)

I recently tested high on an ACE questionnaire and my psychologist recommended EMDR therapy, however during our first and only session, i had no real emotional reaction to the therapy, i was able to remember traumatic events, but i was unable to "feel" them, i am able to remember evens but not put myself in that emotional state again, my therapist said i was probably disassociating and we are now doing work to "reconnect" my memories to the emotional content of said memories, she has me starting off by setting time aside each day to "imagine" specific emotions and describe what they feel like in a physical sense.

i feel a bit like a fish out of water right now and have lost my bearings, i'm not sure my psychologist is taking the correct approach and i am looking for some info here, particularly on why EMDR might have no effect on an individual, i would be extremely grateful if someone could shed some light on this, i don't have the money to jump around to different therapists for a second opinion (my insurance is fairly limited) thank you in advance!
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:30 PM #2
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Default Re: Why does EMDR therapy not affect me?

EMDR, especially on a first session does not necessarily have to bring out emotions. There is no right or wrong for you with EMDR. My T always says your brain knows where it needs to go. EMDR could bring out emotions, physical sensations or just memories.

On the other hand, you state you scored high on a test but you do not mention if the things that happened in childhood make you feel bad, either then or now. Just because certain things happened, they may not have harmed you as a child. There a lot of factors. Sometimes there are enough positive contributing factors that offset the bad.

Is your psychologist performing the EMDR? Are they properly trained in it? EMDR should only be administered by someone with proper training and experience, especially with people like myself who dissociate. If the person is trained I would give it a few more sessions. I have been doing EMDR on trauma for over two years now and have experienced the full gammut.

I do question them asking you to "try" to put emotions to your memories. I did not experience any emotion except anger when I started T. They each came in their own time. Mindfulness was the key to this. Paying attention to your feelings in the present. Once you are able to recognize how you feel in the present, you will begin to notice your emotions related to your memories. If you can't recognize how you feel now, it seems useless to me to try to reconnect with emotional memories.

Good luck to you. EMDR can be a long, hard process. Sometimes you will feel and notice no impact and sometimes it opens a can of worms that quickly multiply and you can never begin to put them back.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:23 PM #3
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Default Re: Why does EMDR therapy not affect me?

I am in the field meaning that I am a mental health professional. However, I don't practice EMDR and wasn't trained in EMDR, so I am making a disclaimer from the get go that my opinion on EMDR specifically is not professional.

I do have a professional opinion though on how to approach issues that stem from adverse childhood experiences. IMO just because your ACE score was high doesn't necessarily mean you need EMDR.

As I said, I am familiar with EMDR only in general terms. I know what it's for and I know how it's performed but I don't know it's whole potential and the entire variety of issues it can treat. I think, it's a very promising method that could potentially help many people, but I also think that more research is needed to determine who can benefit best from it.

Generally speaking, I have a problem with quick recommendations such as "EMDR would be good for you if your ACE score is high".

Psychotherapy is not the same as the rest of the medical science. In psychotherapy, very little is proven to be factual and there are no methods that are researched well enough to predict what kind of results they produce and to explain precisely how they work. The human brain is not as well researched as the rest of the body. Neuroscience is only in its initial stage of development. And, most importantly, what we call "the mind" is much more than just the brain. It is now known that the heart and the gut have their own "brain" that sends information and commands to other organs of the body just as the brain in the head does and governs our behavior just as much. That area is not explored at all. So, whether professionals like to admit it or not, psychotherapy is pretty much in the stage of the dark age where it has to rely a lot on experimentation and will have to do it for a long time before it builds a strong scientific foundation.

Therefore, with how much (or how little) we know, each individual case should be approached carefully with no rush to "diagnose" it. The best place to start is where the person is right now and take time to understand what they need instead of assuming what they need and how to deliver it. With this approach you are the one who needs to define what your problem is, not your therapist. This is what you'd do with any professional anyway. When you see a doctor you tell them your health concerns. The doctors run the tests to determine what causes the problem, but you are the one who describes the problem at first.

The same with therapy. When you see a professional, you know why you see them. You explain what seems to be the problem, and that's the place to start with. A therapist should take time talking to you and understanding you as a person, understanding what your struggles are, what you want and what you need. Once you've articulated your needs, you and the therapist have to decide how you'll work together on fulfilling them. It takes time and patience to know what to work on and how to do it. Some test score won't do it.

It's not the ACE score IMO that should define your therapy goals and set your therapy direction. It is you who decides what you want and what you need and the therapist's role is to facilitate your work of getting where you want to be. Two different people with the same ACE score may have completely different needs and desires and life goals. The same therapy method wouldn't work for both of them. The same childhood experiences affect different people differently. ACE test is a good tool only if it's used within the context of the person's unique character traits and their unique life situation. In and of itself, it doesn't mean anything.

If you want therapy to work best for you, you'll have no choice but to take time "shopping" for the right therapist. I hate to tell you this, but this is the reality. No one can tell you what you need based on what you've shared here or based on anything. No professional (not only therapist) would give you recommendations without meeting you in person and talking to you for some time. I understand the frustration when it comes to paying each one while you "shop", but that's the economic reality we live in. You won't be able to get professional consultations for free on online forums.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:56 PM #4
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Default Re: Why does EMDR therapy not affect me?

thank you for the replies, some good info for sure
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:40 PM #5
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Default Re: Why does EMDR therapy not affect me?

I always felt the whole thing was a bit goofy, but many people find it helpful. Maybe we are too closed off in our emotions or something. But there's also the fact that EMDR is really popular right now, and thus people get referred to it a lot, even when it might not be appropriate for their case. There's also the fact that no treatment works for everyone. EMDR is not the end all be all.
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:16 PM #6
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Default Re: Why does EMDR therapy not affect me?

It doesnt seem to have effected me much either but my T said I am not supposed to feel anything. All the work is done in the brain.
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Old 01-12-2019, 06:12 PM #7
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Default Re: Why does EMDR therapy not affect me?

I have a very low ACE score, but EMDR is really helping me out with some little T traumas. It's so individual.

For me, EMDR is a real process. When I'm asked what I feel, I generally say I don't know. Then my therapist will back it up a bit and ask if I feel anything in my body. She says sometimes feelings that we've hidden are still stuck in our body. Some times, I still feel nothing. Other times, it's something super small like shortness of breath. As we continue, this often brings up more body sensations and sometimes even an emotion that I can name.

There's no right or wrong way to "do" EMDR. But for me, I needed to fully trust and feel like I could open up and be vulnerable with my therapist before this process could even start. That took me 2+ years.

Good luck!
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Old 01-12-2019, 08:15 PM #8
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Default Re: Why does EMDR therapy not affect me?

I have a very high ACE score and have been working with my EMDR therapist for over over a year. We haven't even started trying to process traumatic material yet!

Even now my T still talks about "later, when we start to process trauma, we can work with some of the things that we talked about today."
In my therapy process there seems to be a LOT of preparation for EMDR trauma processing. For the last six months we have been using EMDR for grounding skills an orienting to the present, but that is about it. To me it seems quite odd for your T to expect you to jump right into the deep end on your first try of EMDR. She may have a specific objective or goal in mind though. Can you ask?
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:11 PM #9
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Default Re: Why does EMDR therapy not affect me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dnester View Post
It doesnt seem to have effected me much either but my T said I am not supposed to feel anything. All the work is done in the brain.
This is bizarre to me. Where exactly does she think feelings originate from?
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:39 PM #10
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Default Re: Why does EMDR therapy not affect me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by susannahsays View Post
This is bizarre to me. Where exactly does she think feelings originate from?
Lol Idk. Im with you.
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