Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) - Social Anxiety Forum

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post #1 of 47 (permalink) Old 02-26-2010, 09:35 AM Thread Starter
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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a slightly controversial therapy, which is sometimes used for treating social anxiety. It is used primarily to treat people who have suffered a traumatic event in their lives, which is thought to have triggered their social anxiety disorder. EMDR is especially helpful in cases when post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is thought to be the root of SAD.

EMDR therapy works by guiding the patient through thinking about and processing the traumatic event through new cognitive channels. By dealing with the event in a more comprehensive way, the patient is able to process and cope with the feelings more completely. This, eventually, is thought to lead to a reduction in anxiety related to the event. The movement of the eyes associated with the therapy is thought to help the brain focus in different ways, however, some professionals believe that the benefits of this therapy come from the reprocessing process and are not necessarily related to the eye movements themselves.

More info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_Mov...d_Reprocessing
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post #2 of 47 (permalink) Old 02-26-2010, 01:54 PM
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Effective for PTSD symptoms


Social Anxiety Background
Social anxiety has affected me since I was in elementary school. While it was triggered initially by a traumatic experience, it is something that runs in the family and I certainly had a predisposition for. Some examples of how it manifested itself over the years: avoiding certain types of social situations and friends, avoiding public speaking, avoiding the opposite sex completely, hiding in the library during lunch, the thought of just walking down certain hallways at my highschool terrified me, fear of being around large groups of people, fear and avoidance of going to parties or social gatherings, etc. My social anxiety started to get severe when I dropped out of college after one quarter because of my social anxiety. That's when I started to get uncomfortable just leaving my apartment and hit "the bottom" so to speak. Through treatment with group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (EMDR) for mild Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and medication I've been able to live the balanced life that I value and form healthy friendships and relationships.


Other Treatments
CBT for social anxiety. EMDR worked well for dealing with some specific traumatic events from my life and resulting physiological responses, but CBT was what was effective for learning to think, act and feel differently in social situations.


Treatment Experience
My psychologist who treated me with EMDR told me about a patient of his. It was a middle aged man with no history of any mental disorders. He witnessed a shooting where someone he knew was killed and developed such severe anxiety with physical symptoms that he barely left his house anymore. He went through around a year of talk therapy with limited positive results, but then in only one extended session of EMDR all of his physical symptoms were eliminated. He literally called my psychologist and said I don't need to come back for next week's session. This is an example of a very rapid recovery from the physical symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) via EMDR.

In my case, it wasn't quite so simple or fast. While I had experienced a traumatic event at a young age, I did have a history of depression and social anxiety when I pursued EMDR. I'd also already pursued treatment for social anxiety with CBT and had gone through a 20 week group.

I approached EMDR as the last psychotherapy that I was going to try before giving medication a shot. I was hoping it would finally "fix" my social anxiety. While it didn't do that (as I am currently taking medication), I did find it to be a beneficial treatment.

---

First of all, what exactly is EMDR?

EMDR is a psychotherapy treatment that was designed to resolve symptoms resulting from exposure to a traumatic event. The theory is that symptoms arise when a distressing event is inadequately processed and can be eliminated when that memory is fully processed.

The "processing" that takes place in EMDR causes the traumatic memory to be transformed both emotionally and cognitively because new connections are formed with more positive and realistic information. The result is that the patient is no longer distressed when accessing the memory, instead seeing it with a new perspective free of the emotional distress and physical responses.

What does EMDR actually involve?

When working with a therapist, you focuses simultaneously on 1) the image that best represents the traumatic memory, 2) the negative belief formed, and 3) the disturbing emotion or physical sensation.

As you do this you follow an object moving back and forth with your eyes, listen to sound alternating ears in headphones or hold sensors that vibrate alternating hands.

These are believed to be important in facilitating the processing of the traumatic memory, but how exactly they do this is debated.

Three supported explanations are:
1) The bilateral stimulation through eye movements (or other alternating stimulation), facilitate interaction between the brain's hemispheres, which then improves the processing of trauma-related memories
2) That eye movements (or other alternating stimulation) facilitate processing of trauma memories by activating a state similar to REM sleep.
3) The eye movements (or other alternating stimulation) in EMDR affect the orienting response, which can inhibit the avoidance response, induce an investigatory reflex and produce a relaxation response.

The EMDR process itself is finished when you form a new, more rational belief about the memory.

After successful treatment with EMDR, there is supposed to be a reduction in the distress, a shift in the negative beliefs, and a reduction in the physical symptoms.

---

Ok, that being said, I went through around 20 EMDR sessions with a psychologist. In that time I went through and "reprocessed" a handful of traumatic events from my childhood.

Without getting into the nitty gritty details, I wouldn't say repressed memories came to the surface, but memories that I just didn't think were important I found to be linked together and linked to certain beliefs about myself and the world. There were times when I had a significant amount of emotional release, whether that was through crying or anger. I never would have imagined I had so much emotion stored up about the events in my past.

How do I know that it worked?

Since my childhood I had a problem where I would start to feel like I was going to throw up when going to social environments. It wouldn't have to be that I was giving a speech, it could just be going to a party. There were times when I would actually throw up I was so anxious about going to a social gathering.

After treatment with EMDR I have not had the feeling again.

If for nothing else, that made it worth it.

Overall, I don't see EMDR as the main or first treatment for social anxiety. CBT and group therapy takes that role. But I'd highly recommend it for someone who is experiencing severe ongoing physiological responses (something like throwing up) to social situations.
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post #3 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-20-2010, 03:47 PM
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Emdr


Social Anxiety Background
I have had anxiety that I have traced back to about age 11. At that time I moved to a new state and was forced to start life over, basically. Instead of belonging to a group of close friends and enjoying school, I was suddenly alone and became unmotivated. I tried to fit in, but never felt right. For years I felt displaced and rejected. I made friends over time, but the trauma of what I experienced stuck with me and I was slow to get close with anyone. That's when the social anxiety crept up on me and began controlling everything I did.

Other Treatments
I have taken Zoloft twice: first from age 17-21, and then I started on it again this summer. It seems to take a little edge off of the anxiety and stress, but it's not enough.

Treatment Experience
I went into this therapy with no expectations, really. At the most, I thought it would help me feel a little better about myself. It couldn't hurt, right?

I had traced the beginnings of my social anxiety to that move, so I focused on that with the therapist. She guided me through my thoughts and feelings and helped me to look at them rationally. Even though I had gone into the therapy half-heartedly, I soon found myself feeling very emotional and open to the therapist. I didn't hold my feelings inside--I let them out, then analyzed them with the therapist.

With each topic I brought up, the therapist moved her hand back and forth for me to follow with my eyes as I thought about what had just been discussed. This was a way of reprogramming my brain, so to speak. I know it doesn't seem like it would do anything, and it first I didn't know if it would help. But I felt good after the session.

Then came the next morning. I had not gone into the therapy knowing much about it at all, like I said. But the connection between moving my eyes and REM sleep did something...and I woke up feeling amazing. I was not anxious about an upcoming event that I had been worrying about off and on for months. I felt at peace. I wasn't as afraid to talk to people--in fact, I initiated conversations more than normal. I'm not saying that I was suddenly a social butterfly, but I did feel far more confident.

This euphoric feeling lasted for about a week. Then, I received some upsetting news that threw me off kilter a bit. With the sudden shock, I lost some of my confidence and happiness. After about a day, though, I was regaining most of that happy feeling as I readjusted.

Right now, I still have some worries, but everything seems better. I'm happier, I am less anxious and worried, and I feel more comfortable around people. I did not expect this result at all--I only thought the therapy might help my self esteem a little if anything. Instead, it helped to reprogram my mind a little to eliminate a big chunk of worry.

I am sure that this would 't work for everyone. However, if you have a chance to try it, it might be a life-changing opportunity. It worked for me. Not a 100% fix, but it really helped me.
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post #4 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-25-2010, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by quietlyfalling View Post
Social Anxiety Background
I have had anxiety that I have traced back to about age 11. At that time I moved to a new state and was forced to start life over, basically. Instead of belonging to a group of close friends and enjoying school, I was suddenly alone and became unmotivated. I tried to fit in, but never felt right. For years I felt displaced and rejected. I made friends over time, but the trauma of what I experienced stuck with me and I was slow to get close with anyone. That's when the social anxiety crept up on me and began controlling everything I did.

Other Treatments
I have taken Zoloft twice: first from age 17-21, and then I started on it again this summer. It seems to take a little edge off of the anxiety and stress, but it's not enough.

Treatment Experience
I went into this therapy with no expectations, really. At the most, I thought it would help me feel a little better about myself. It couldn't hurt, right?

I had traced the beginnings of my social anxiety to that move, so I focused on that with the therapist. She guided me through my thoughts and feelings and helped me to look at them rationally. Even though I had gone into the therapy half-heartedly, I soon found myself feeling very emotional and open to the therapist. I didn't hold my feelings inside--I let them out, then analyzed them with the therapist.

With each topic I brought up, the therapist moved her hand back and forth for me to follow with my eyes as I thought about what had just been discussed. This was a way of reprogramming my brain, so to speak. I know it doesn't seem like it would do anything, and it first I didn't know if it would help. But I felt good after the session.

Then came the next morning. I had not gone into the therapy knowing much about it at all, like I said. But the connection between moving my eyes and REM sleep did something...and I woke up feeling amazing. I was not anxious about an upcoming event that I had been worrying about off and on for months. I felt at peace. I wasn't as afraid to talk to people--in fact, I initiated conversations more than normal. I'm not saying that I was suddenly a social butterfly, but I did feel far more confident.

This euphoric feeling lasted for about a week. Then, I received some upsetting news that threw me off kilter a bit. With the sudden shock, I lost some of my confidence and happiness. After about a day, though, I was regaining most of that happy feeling as I readjusted.

Right now, I still have some worries, but everything seems better. I'm happier, I am less anxious and worried, and I feel more comfortable around people. I did not expect this result at all--I only thought the therapy might help my self esteem a little if anything. Instead, it helped to reprogram my mind a little to eliminate a big chunk of worry.

I am sure that this would 't work for everyone. However, if you have a chance to try it, it might be a life-changing opportunity. It worked for me. Not a 100% fix, but it really helped me.
Hey, how are you finding things now?
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post #5 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-26-2010, 04:44 AM
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"He went through around a year of talk therapy with limited positive results, but then in only one extended session of EMDR all of his physical symptoms were eliminated. He literally called my psychologist and said I don't need to come back for next week's session."

There is more than one way to interpret this.
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post #6 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-26-2010, 12:10 PM
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Yea I'm a fan of EMDR.
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post #7 of 47 (permalink) Old 03-25-2011, 04:38 AM
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Does anyone know where this is available and if this is free or not?
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post #8 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-06-2011, 08:31 AM
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This works great for PTSD. I used it myself. Very effective. All what it is is either tapping on your knees, snapping near your ears or Moving your eyes right to left while fonfronting your fears head on. That fear thought will lead you to another thought, then you stick with that thought, and so forth. Kind of like your mind solving the situation. I don't believe this treatment needs to be used for SA though. It's more for extreme fears, such as PTSD.

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post #9 of 47 (permalink) Old 07-13-2011, 07:29 PM
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I tried EMDR for a past traumatic event and I did notice a difference. It is not a miracle cure from my experience, but something about it lessons the pull it has over you. I still sometimes am reminded of my experience and feel its pain, but it isn't quite as hard to deal with.

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans" -John Lennon
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post #10 of 47 (permalink) Old 07-20-2011, 09:13 PM
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I'm starting this next week. So I came by just to see if anyone else here had used it. It seems to make some sense to me. I think I've tried some elements in the past that were effective.

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post #11 of 47 (permalink) Old 07-20-2011, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by moke64916 View Post
I don't believe this treatment needs to be used for SA though. It's more for extreme fears, such as PTSD.
SA is pretty "extreme" as far as fears go, at least for people who have the "d" part included in social anxiety disorder.

I can trace almost every social trigger or other issue back to an emotionally traumatic event, some as early as 3-4 years old.

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post #12 of 47 (permalink) Old 07-27-2011, 12:41 PM
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I feel really good but very exhausted. I will probably be doing this every week, and hopefully I can process issues faster than i add new ones.

My name is G. I am awesome.
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post #13 of 47 (permalink) Old 07-27-2011, 01:46 PM
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hey. it is exhausting, i've been doing emdr for over three months now. it took me a while to notice any differences, but within the past three or four weeks i've started to notice a lot more around me and process things faster than i did before. hope it goes well!
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post #14 of 47 (permalink) Old 07-27-2011, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew View Post
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a slightly controversial therapy, which is sometimes used for treating social anxiety. It is used primarily to treat people who have suffered a traumatic event in their lives, which is thought to have triggered their social anxiety disorder. EMDR is especially helpful in cases when post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is thought to be the root of SAD.

EMDR therapy works by guiding the patient through thinking about and processing the traumatic event through new cognitive channels. By dealing with the event in a more comprehensive way, the patient is able to process and cope with the feelings more completely. This, eventually, is thought to lead to a reduction in anxiety related to the event. The movement of the eyes associated with the therapy is thought to help the brain focus in different ways, however, some professionals believe that the benefits of this therapy come from the reprocessing process and are not necessarily related to the eye movements themselves.

More info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_Mov...d_Reprocessing
My psychologist used EMDR on me frequently and in my last session I started in a place of thinking about an abusive relationship I was in to
a really positive place of "I'm not going to take crap from anyone anymore!"
I didn't always like it but it did help me to think clearer and make some much needed realizations about life. So all in all I'm all for EMDR
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post #15 of 47 (permalink) Old 07-27-2011, 02:17 PM
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hey. it is exhausting, i've been doing emdr for over three months now. it took me a while to notice any differences, but within the past three or four weeks i've started to notice a lot more around me and process things faster than i did before. hope it goes well!
Definately kagiand It is exhausting but it's great that it's helped you to think clearer. I think it has with me too. It stops me living in fantasy land.
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post #16 of 47 (permalink) Old 09-23-2011, 05:19 PM
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EMDR didn't really work for me. I have complex post traumatic stress stemming from childhood sexual abuse, verbal abuse and physical abuse from my parents and brother. I've been in talk therapy off and on for over 20 years and have tried various different medications. Social anxiety has always been a real issue for me. I am tired of being this way. I just want to be normal.
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post #17 of 47 (permalink) Old 12-21-2011, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lmoon View Post
EMDR didn't really work for me. I have complex post traumatic stress stemming from childhood sexual abuse, verbal abuse and physical abuse from my parents and brother. I've been in talk therapy off and on for over 20 years and have tried various different medications. Social anxiety has always been a real issue for me. I am tired of being this way. I just want to be normal.
I recommend you looking on Lifetimer's thread on Social Anxiety.
Also read the book No More Mr Nice Guy by Robert Glover, and then visit his forum (but all this is already mentioned on Lifetimer's thread so just read it!)

Healing your toxic shame is the way to go!

I know how you're feeling, just get into this and stick to it, you Will be cured

Destroying SA and becoming my old cheerful, charming, slighly badass and confident self is my fulltime job.

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post #18 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 10:05 PM
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I tried EMDR for several months to get over PTSD, SA, and other issues I was going through. It helped me tremendously even though I wasn't disciplined when it came to doing my resources. My depression waned a whole lot, but I'm afraid it's now back in a way, because I've not been going for my sessions for about a month now.

My concern is about whether one tends to become dependant on EMDR in the long run. I was also supposed to do CBT for my SA, but have found that exercising is one of the best ways to pep up my mood and self-confidence.

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post #19 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 12:54 AM
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Interesting to see EMDR here. My therapist was using it and encouraging it, and all of a sudden it was stopped. As soon as there was a suspected disassociative disorder it seems like my therapy experience went downhill. I'm not sure what the big deal is about disassociative disorders, but I really liked EMDR and I really preferred setting goals and doing positive things. It seems that now...well now I don't know why I'm in therapy. I will bring EMDR up with doc and find out why my therapy was railroaded. So glad I saw this and remembered the "good ole' days."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lmoon View Post
EMDR didn't really work for me. I have complex post traumatic stress stemming from childhood sexual abuse, verbal abuse and physical abuse from my parents and brother. I've been in talk therapy off and on for over 20 years and have tried various different medications. Social anxiety has always been a real issue for me. I am tired of being this way. I just want to be normal.
Maybe this is why it was so abrupty stopped? Similar situation. But I liked EMDR. There must be something about disassociative disorder that they aren't telling me. I feel like labels are making my life even worse.

Last edited by ywf; 01-12-2012 at 01:00 AM. Reason: to reply
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post #20 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 09:44 AM
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I did this a few years ago, and it didn't do a thing for me. Big waste of time for me... but if you're already seeing a psychologist and want to try it, it's free.

constant SA, no PTSD.
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