- Mar 27, 2015
- DX FIBRO
Someone mentioned to me recently that EMDR can help fibromyalgia symptoms, anyone have any experience with that?
It’s absolutely worth trying EMDR therapy! While the research to date includes studies on trauma and PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, treatment of distressful experiences that fail to meet the criteria for PTSD, dental phobia, depression, body dysmorphic disorder, chronic phantom limb pain, panic disorder with agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and peer verbal abuse, it has also been found to be effective with pain. Given the relationship between Fibromyalgia and Stress, EMDR therapy may be extremely helpful.
I use EMDR therapy as my primary psychotherapy treatment and I've also personally had EMDR therapy for anxiety, panic, grief, and “small t” trauma. As a client, EMDR worked extremely well and also really fast. As an EMDR therapist, and in my role as a facilitator who trains other therapists in EMDR therapy (certified by the EMDR International Association and trained by the EMDR Institute, both of which I strongly recommend in an EMDR therapist) I have used EMDR therapy successfully with panic disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression, grief, body image, phobias, distressing memories, bad dreams, and many other problems. It's a very gentle method with no significant "down-side" so that in the hands of a professional EMDR therapist, there should be no freak-outs or worsening of day-to-day functioning.
One of the initial phases (Phase 2) in EMDR therapy involves preparing for memory processing or desensitization (memory processing or desensitization - phases 3-6 - is often what is referred to as "EMDR" which is actually an 8-phase method of psychotherapy). In this phase resources are "front-loaded" so that you have a "floor" or "container" to help with processing the really hard stuff, as well as creating strategies if you're triggered in everyday life. In Phase 2 you learn a lot of great coping strategies and self-soothing techniques which you can use during EMDR processing or anytime you feel the need.
In phase 2 you learn how to access a “Safe or Calm Place” which you can use at ANY TIME during EMDR processing (or on your own) if it feels scary, or too emotional, too intense. One of the key assets of EMDR therapy is that YOU, the client, are in control NOW, even though you weren’t in the past, during traumatic events and/or panic/anxiety. You NEVER need re-live an experience or go into great detail, ever! You NEVER need to go through the entire memory. YOU can decide to keep the lights (or the alternating sounds and/or tactile pulsars, or the waving hand, or any method of bilateral stimulation that feels okay to you) going, or stop them, whichever helps titrate – measure and adjust the balance or “dose“ of the processing. During EMDR processing there are regular “breaks” and you can control when and how many but the therapist should be stopping the bilateral stimulation every 25-50 passes of the lights to ask you to take a deep breath and say just a bit of what you’re noticing, anything different, any changes. (The stimulation should not be kept on continuously, because there are specific procedures that need to be followed to process the memory). The breaks help keep a “foot in the present” while you’re processing the past. Again, and I can’t say this enough, YOU ARE IN CHARGE so YOU can make the process tolerable. And your therapist should be experienced in the EMDR therapy techniques that help make it the gentlest and safest way to detoxify bad life experiences and build resources.
Grounding exercises are essential. You can use some of the techniques in Dr. Shapiro's new book "Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR." Dr. Shapiro is the founder/creator of EMDR but all the proceeds from the book go to two charities: the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program and the EMDR Research Foundation). The book is an easy read, helps you understand what's "pushing" your feelings and behavior, helps you connect the dots from past experiences to current life. Also gives lots of really helpful ways that are used during EMDR therapy to calm disturbing thoughts and feelings.
Pacing and dosing are critically important. So if you ever feel that EMDR processing is too intense then it might be time to go back over all the resources that should be used both IN session and BETWEEN sessions.
Many organizations, professional associations, departments of health of many countries, the US Dept. of Defense, and the VA, all have given their "stamp of approval" to EMDR therapy. There are 35 randomized controlled (and 20 nonrandomized) studies that have been conducted on EMDR therapy in the treatment of trauma.
The World Health Organization has published Guidelines for the management of conditions that are specifically related to stress: Trauma-focused CBT and EMDR are the only psychotherapies recommended for children, adolescents and adults with PTSD. “Like CBT with a trauma focus, EMDR aims to reduce subjective distress and strengthen adaptive cognitions related to the traumatic event. Unlike CBT with a trauma focus, EMDR does not involve (a) detailed descriptions of the event, (b) direct challenging of beliefs, (c) extended exposure, or (d) homework." (Geneva, WHO, 2013, p.1)
Currently I'm doing neuro-feedback (including alpha-theta neuro-feedback), talk therapy, art therapy, and possibly might start auriculotherapy. My psychologist specializes in all of these. Auriculotherapy has been to show significantly help for finromyalgia and many other disorders.
What do you mean "small T" trauma? How is it small? What is considered a small trauma?
A "small t" trauma is anything that does not meet the (Category A) criteria for PTSD (in the DSM 5):
~The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows: (one required)
1. Direct exposure.
2. Witnessing, in person.
3. Indirectly, by learning that a close relative or close friend was exposed to trauma. If the event involved actual or threatened death, it must have been violent or accidental.
4. Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, collecting body parts; professionals repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse). This does not include indirect non-professional exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures."