EMDR Therapy as PTSD Treatment: A Closer Look

July 7, 2016 Jami DeLoe

Are you are interested in taking a closer look at how eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy works for recovery from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? If so, I recommend a book I read recently, Every Moment of a Fall, A Memoir of Recovery Through EMDR Therapy, by Carol E. Miller. The book gives a first-hand account of what EMDR therapy is like and how it helps with PTSD recovery (see also PTSD Treatment: My Experience With EMDR Therapy).

I love a good memoir because I can almost always relate to at least some part of the author's story. When I read this book, I could relate to a lot of it. It talks in-depth about what EMDR therapy looks like, how it works, and the relief that it offers, from a patient's perspective (EMDR: Treatment for PTSD). It's written in a way that everyone can understand, without a bunch of medical jargon that only doctors and therapists are familiar with. It explains the symptoms of PTSD and the experience of living with them--how they can be disruptive and destructive. And, most importantly, it offers hope of recovery to those of us who suffer from PTSD.

Deciding to Try EMDR Therapy as a PTSD Treatment

Making the decision to try EMDR therapy can be a difficult one. It was for me. I thought it sounded like some crazy hypnosis type thing that could make matters worse, if
it had any effect at all. In the book, Carol described having some of those same feelings of skepticism. She says,

It still sounds like brainwashing to me, and I'm still terrified of something altering how beautifully I think . . . I have to know if, physiologically speaking, there's even a remote chance that chunks of my mind will be reprocessed to mush.

I get that, I wondered that, too.

What Carol and I have in common about the decision to give EMDR therapy a try, is that we were both desperate to find something that helped alleviate the PTSD symptoms we were having, even though we had our doubts.

EMDR Therapy Can Change Your Perspective on Trauma

The results for EMDR therapy patients are varied. For some, including myself and Carol, the results are life-changing, in a positive way. Some people experience a degree of relief from symptoms, and for some, EMDR therapy just isn't effective.

For those of us who do have positive results, EMDR often changes the perspective through which we remember our trauma. In one EMDR session, Carol describes it this way when recalling the plane crash that caused her PTSD,

We're on the ground . . . But now it's like I'm watching myself from the sidelines. There's all the same stuff as before, just smaller. Everything looks further away.

A doctor's description of EMDR therapy, a treatment for PTSD, can be dry and unhelpful. But this memoir of EMDR therapy is clear and helpful. Take a look.

That's exactly what happened to my memories when I went through EMDR therapy.

In remembering my rape and abuse, my memories went from first person--happening to me all over again, with the same feelings, sights, smells, and sounds--to seeing it in third person, like a movie. The emotional part wasn't as strong. While I still felt sad about what had happened to me, I didn't feel like I was reliving the experiences. What an enormous relief. For me, EMDR was the first step to ending flashbacks and nightmares that had plagued me for a long time.

Finding an EMDR Therapist

When I sought EMDR therapy there weren't a lot of options. Luckily, I found a therapist in my city who was certified in EMDR, and she was able to help me. She didn't, however, accept insurance at that time. As EMDR therapy has become more accepted and utilized in the treatment of PTSD, it is now much easier to find a therapist and many now do accept insurance. If you want to try EMDR therapy and you're currently seeing a therapist, they should be able to refer you to someone who specializes in EMDR therapy. You can also contact your insurance company for help.

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APA Reference
DeLoe, J. (2016, July 7). EMDR Therapy as PTSD Treatment: A Closer Look, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Jami DeLoe

Jami DeLoe is a freelance writer and addiction blogger. She is an advocate for mental health awareness and addiction recovery and is a recovering alcoholic herself. Find Jami DeLoe on her blog, Sober GraceTwitter, and Facebook.

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