Is EMDR right for me?

by April
(Orlando, FL 32869)

I am a 28 yrs old female. I have had many traumas in my life from physical to sexual traumas and I am diagnosed with PSTD and Bipolar Disorder 1. I was told to try EMDR therapy but I have a couple questions regarding EMDR therapy before I look for a certified therapist.

I was drugged with Ruffies and LSD and then raped by 2 men. Both men I knew, but I only physically remember one man. I used to remember both but now can't. I can't remember anything. How can EMDR help if I can't start explaining the initial feelings and experience - if I can't remember it? Will I be able to remember who the other man was?
What if I have a feeling that I was molested as a kid would I be able to tell with EMDR even if the person I think could have done it may not have and it's all a delusion from my Bipolar?

And can EMDR send me into a delusion or have same negative effect that hypnosis can have on a person with Bipolar or other mental disorders?

Is there any adverse side effects from EMDR?
Does it always work and is it a permanent fix or a temporary one?

I would ask the therapist I have been referred to but I wanted to ask someone else who will give me a honest answer and not just an answer to achieve a new client and their wallet.

Ben's Answer:

Although I have some training in EMDR and have used it, I am not an expert in EMDR, so this is just my own opinion. The most important thing, is that the therapist have a lot of experience with both sexual abuse and Bipolar disorder. Both are important - regardless of what technique they use. Next, if using EMDR, they should have at least EMDR level 2 training.

EMDR, like many other techniques can have "abreactions" - meaning it can potentially trigger more emotional/traumatic material that becomes distressing or overwhelming, even after the session has ended. A good therapist is sensitive to that, minimizes the chances of it, and takes measures to provide further care if that happens.

I personally love using EFT and find it faster, more efficient and less re-traumatizing than EMDR because you don't have to remember or visualize past traumas in any direct way while doing the procedure. Some of my clients who have used EMDR in the past for PTSD/sexual abuse found it to worsen their symptoms, yet found EFT to be gentle and much more effective. But that may have more to do with the skill of the therapist they used, than the technique itself.

When in doubt, just be sure you feel a good working alliance with the therapist first before doing any deep work. Make sure you don't feel pushed or pressured in any way before starting EMDR trauma work.

Last, no therapist should ever make any "suggestions" to you about early abuse/molestation if you can't remember what happened, or if anything happened as a child. Memories may come up in the course of using EMDR. And this is also true for EFT. When they come up naturally, without any biased influence from the therapist, then it is much safer. Things come up when the mind is ready to heal them.

Whether EMDR or EFT or other trauma technique, when a traumatic memory is thoroughly healed you will know it, and it is normally a permanent healing. In my work with EFT, resolving the earliest traumas in your life is the surest way to get a complete and permanent result, since they form the foundation of any later traumas.

Best wishes in your healing,
Ben Schwarcz

Comments for Is EMDR right for me?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 28, 2012
by: Hope

Hi. I am an alter of a host with DID. We are currently in EMDR therapy with an awesome therapist whom most of us trust explicitly. This therapy is right for us and has been effective in dealing with such trauma as ritual abuse, incest and parental neglect. We are currently focusing on rape experiences and issues.

Trust in our therapist is a huge step and necessary for this work to be effective. A "person" must trust their therapist! Also, having a safe place to go and to leave trauma work has saved us from unnecessary pain and memories between EMDR sessions.

I (the host) have felt feelings safely for the first time. I remember painful memories without flashbacks and actually am recalling positive past experiences.

Hooray for this therapy. It is hard work but I (the host) am learning it is well worth it and we are feeling freedom from emotional trauma due to EMDR.

Hope and the collective.

From a DID, MPD patient

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Ask a Therapist.

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.