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1Littlefoot

EMDR Therapy - thoughts/ any experience ?

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Hi , just wondering if any thoughts/experience on EMDR Therapy please?  NICE has approved it for PTSD and I've found scientific papers that suggest it has efficacy for depression and OCD. 21yr old Son is about to try it with an NHS therapist  - a Doctor - highly trained in multiple therapies - . Son has been suffering with largely 'Pure O' for last few yrs.   - has been to Michael Rutter so done ERP and multiple courses of  CBT but still not managed to shift OCD and his depression (not surprised he is depressed as OCD has so delayed /made his life hard in every way - OCD is enough to drive anyone down the dark black hole!)  ..... so seems like EMDR is worth a try to try to move him to a much better level of recovery.  Therapist has been seeing him for some time and son trusts him a lot and seems to have got some relief and better insight to his illness. Any thoughts/experiences welcome please.   Many thanks 

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Hi Littlefoot,

My understanding is EMDR doesn't work on OCD. Despite the claims that it 'rewires the anxiety centre of the brain' :dry: it's not 'rewiring' the part of the brain that needs fixed in OCD.  I believe it works as form of distraction, helping to defuse intense anxiety which allows the person to begin to process their trauma (I refer to it as a PTSD treatment since that's where the research is.)  

When it comes to OCD, we need to learn how the interpretation of our thoughts leads to anxiety and compulsive behaviours and correct that misinterpretation/ OCD thinking. EMDR won't do that. If EMDR helps your son relax and reduces his anxiety levels that's great, but then he'll still need CBT to address his problematic OCD thinking.

I don't believe EMDR does any harm, even though for most people it probably does no good. Hopefully the therapist views it as an interim measure with the intention to proceed to CBT (rather than using EMDR to replace CBT.) If that is the case I would say the worst it can do is delay him getting the right treatment and the best you can hope for is it defuses his anxiety sufficiently to allow him to work on the CBT more effectively. 

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Hey, I think that there’s no harm in trying it but I wouldn’t get your hopes up too much as it has never been a treatment recommended for OCD, although it may help with his depression. I think if he’s been through a few rounds of CBT with no real results then anything is worth a try really! I inquired about EMDR and hypnotherapy for OCD and was just told flat out that it wouldn’t be for OCD and to stick with the CBT.xx

Edited by Wonderer

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many thanks for this feedback ..... the therapist I think is looking to use EMDR as you both say - to bring down the anxiety so my son can access CBT /and any other combined talking  therapy approaches  - the clinical pschologist is trained in many  . My son has done ERP in the past - that worked - he did it at Michael Rutter  ( he was really suffering terribly then) - about 70% but the last 30% OCD has gone underground to 'Pure O' .. where now he mistrusts his own thinking - my son's not sure what  is OCD and what is 'Him' .Not least as he feels so ughh he's fed up  so depressed .... and gets more anxious ... and around he goes again ..locked .... any rational conversation is tricky - makes therapy hard.

He's not started EMDR yet ..... suspect the therapist  doesn't think he's ready for it.     

Think I'll make sure son sees it as another tool - and to keep an open mind to it.  he was keen to try it ... a rare reaction to his therapy .. so I don't want to discourage him ... I do want  to make sure he stays safe and no harm is done - hence asking the forum.    

Many thanks

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Thanks legalseagull.  Guess will have to see .. CBT alone hasn't worked enough so anything else that might help seems worth a try - son seems positive about it .... so must be worth a try.   

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I've had one session of EMDR about a week ago, my therapist said he was using it as a kind of exposure therapy for me. It was very intense at first as the thought I was concentrating on was making me very anxious but for me it turned out to be a way to sit with the thought and become less anxious about it. I'm only new to it by all accounts but I think it's more for anxiety and the processing of it rather than the actual treatment of OCD. I think the only way to treat OCD is to train the brain into new ways of thinking and I don't think EMDR is designed for that. 

Edited by Headwreck

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4 hours ago, Headwreck said:

I think it's more for anxiety and the processing of it rather than the actual treatment of OCD.

I think that's a good way to describe the use of EMDR for OCD actually :)   

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I suspect that might be how the therapist is going to use it  (or maybe that's me with wishful thinking) ..... so thanks - that puts things into perspective alongside the Exposure therapy for OCD and the normal CBT for OCD - both of which he has done  - and continues to try  do on a daily basis with greater or lesser effect - depending on how anxious he is.  It really is very exhausting for him .

 

Your comments really helpful. 

Many thanks all. 

 

 

 

 

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On 27/02/2018 at 10:12, 1Littlefoot said:

I suspect that might be how the therapist is going to use it  (or maybe that's me with wishful thinking) ..... so thanks - that puts things into perspective alongside the Exposure therapy for OCD and the normal CBT for OCD - both of which he has done  - and continues to try  do on a daily basis with greater or lesser effect - depending on how anxious he is.  It really is very exhausting for him .

 

Your comments really helpful. 

Many thanks all. 

 

 

 

 

Hope it gets a little easier soon. Best wishes. 

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My wife suffers from OCD. She has had a lot of CBT and was recommended to try EMDR. Our experience is it actually set her back quite a long way and she stopped over about 8 sessions but took some time to recover. I would be wary of it. I have friends who have had fantastic responses to EMDR but not for OCD

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EMDR is interesting. I was introduced to it by a uni counsellor who asked if I wanted to give it a go, since intrusive OCD thought-images share some ground with PTSD. There were lots of testimonies on Youtube, and I think I flat out told him that I wouldn't have enough faith in that kind of anecdotal evidence. Plus the way I read it made it sound like CBT with an eye-movement "gimmick" tagged on, which was probably a bit unfair.

My opinion of EMDR softened somewhat, and the structure of therapy generally, because the private therapist I ended up seeing (recommended by a psychiatrist specialising in OCD) who helped me a lot has a multi-disciplinary approach. She does psychoanalysis, and was trained in CBT and EMDR (the offer was there if I wanted to try it), but respected my wishes to stick to CBT and ERP because it has the strongest evidence base, and didn't push me towards any other methods. I feel that sort of openness is really key to a good therapeutic relationship.

As a way to assist CBT by exposing yourself to your intrusive thoughts, I think it could be useful. It depends on the individual. As with a lot of mental health stuff, more research is needed. I hope your son finds something that works for him. 

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Thanks raffles and Stepforward. the evidence based approach is a good point . And my worry and reason for asking was triggered by the negatives I had seen and the concern it would put him back - even at risk. 

As it happens he hasn't proceeded- no idea why. Plus  now the psychologist is on extended leave for goodness knows what reason ..... as has been his psychiatrist - so he's in limbo again at home and slipping backwards  - getting fed up , bored, depressed and loosing faith in himself - of course OCD being a huge contributor  - as always - I hate this darned illness!!  

So for now back to drawing board galvanising  resources ( our own) to keep him form slipping further and keeping hope!! Damned if IOCD wins!!! Not on my watch! But sadly is not down to me in the end. 

 

Thanks all.    

 

 

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