A Call to Revise EMDRIA’s Definition of EMDR

EMDRIA’s Definition of EMDR (Definition) implicitly promotes psychiatric concepts and practices that are invalid and inapplicable to EMDR.

The Definition states, “EMDR is an evidence-based psychotherapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”

PTSD is a “diagnosis” in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) catalog of “mental diseases,”* which is unreliable and invalid. Moreover, “mental diseases,” which psychiatry claims are caused by “chemical imbalances,” have no lab tests (e.g., blood tests, x-rays, microscopic analysis of tissues, etc.) like real diseases do and are totally lacking in evidence.

Therefore, it does not even make sense to talk about “evidence-based” treatment of a “mental disease” that essentially does not exist.

Instead, the Definition should refer to what EMDR actually does, which is eliminate people’s “ongoing disturbances” caused by incompletely processed or unprocessed memories of threats or losses they experienced with strong emotions and were unable to overcome or escape.

The Definition states “The model on which EMDR is based, Adaptive Information Processing (AIP), posits that much of psychopathology is due to the maladaptive encoding of and/or incomplete processing of traumatic or disturbing adverse life experiences.”

A dictionary definition of “psychopathology” is “related to disease.”

Therefore, EMDRIA’s conceptualization of the “model” EMDR is based upon pertains to “mental diseases,” which do not exist. Consequently, EMDRIA’s conceptualization of EMDR can not be valid.

Instead, “psychopathology” and other psychiatric terms that refer to non-existent “mental diseases” should be removed from the Definition.

The Definition states, “This treatment approach . . . results in the alleviation of presenting symptoms . . .”

A dictionary definition of “symptom” refers to “evidence of disease.” Moreover, the goal of EMDR is NOT “alleviation of symptoms” (which is the goal of psychiatric drugs and other therapies such as CBT).

The goal of EMDR is cure. The goal of EMDR is elimination of people’s “ongoing emotional, mental and physical disturbances” (SUD = 0, VoC = 7 and clear body scan), which is cure.

The references to “three prongs” is confusing and should simply refer to the fact that EMDR deals with past, present and future.

References to “maladaptive encoding of and/or incomplete processing of traumatic or disturbing adverse life experiences” is confusing.

Instead, the Definition should state what is on our Web site:

What Is EMDR?

The brain normally processes experiences to adaptive resolution. Memories of processed experiences provide information about how to respond to similar events in the future.

When we experience a threatening event or loss with strong emotions, and we can’t overcome it or escape, our brain may be unable to completely process the experience.

Then we react to similar events as if the threat or loss is happening again.

EMDR enables the brain to process incompletely and unprocessed memories to adaptive resolution. EMDR also addresses disturbing reactions to similar current events and develops skills and abilities people need to respond effectively to similar events in the future.

What Is The Goal Of EMDR?

The goal of EMDR is cure.

First, EMDR eliminates ongoing emotional, mental and physical disturbances caused by incompletely and unprocessed memories.

Second, EMDR eliminates disturbances caused by current events that resemble the original event.

Third, EMDR develops skills and abilities people need to respond effectively to similar events in the future.

How Long Does It Take For EMDR To Achieve A Cure?

If a single recent event produced the memory that causes the ongoing disturbances, and people have resources they need to respond effectively to similar events in the future, treatment may be relatively brief.

Earlier and multiple events may produce a number of memories that cause ongoing disturbances, and people may not have resources they need to respond effectively, which complicates treatment and may take much longer.

Who Provides EMDR?

EMDR providers are licensed professionals who have undergone extensive training and consultation to insure they administer treatment that is consistent with EMDR procedures and are able to adapt the procedures to people’s individual needs.

What Does EMDR Involve?

EMDR consists of eight phases, beginning with history taking and extending to re-evaluation, and it includes procedures that address past causes of people’s ongoing disturbances, current situations that make them react as if the original threats or losses were happening again, and developing skills and abilities to enable them to respond effectively to similar events in the future. During processing, people attend to past memories, present triggers, and anticipated future events as the therapist guides them in sets of bilateral eye movements, tones or taps. As a result, people’s disturbances are eliminated, what they want to believe about themselves feels completely true and they are physically calm.

* Dictionary synonyms for “mental disease” include “mental illness” and “mental disorder.” The American Psychiatric Association and the Centers for Disease Control state that “mental disorders” are “mental illnesses.”

©EMDR Hawaii June 2017

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EMDR Therapy Basic Training in Honolulu in February and September 2017

Darlene Wade, LCSW, and Terence Wade, PhD, will host EMDR Therapy Basic Training in Honolulu.

Weekend One will be held on February 24-26, 2017.

Weekend Two will be held on September 8-10, 2017.

The location for both Weekend One and Two will be New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, 2863 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, 808-923-1555.

Darlene Wade, LCSW, can be contacted at 808-521-3637 (521-EMDR).

The EMDR Institute Trainer will be Barbara Parrett, RN, MS.

The EMDR Institute Basic Training Brochure can be found here:  EMDR Institute Training in Hawaii 2017

The EMDR Institute Basic Training Overview can be found here.

Registration information can be found here.

Information about the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel can be found here.

Getting Past Your Past Trauma With EMDR Therapy

The following article was published in Midweek, Honolulu, “Doctor in the House,” Page 33, September 28, 2016.

Getting Past Your Past Trauma With EMDR Therapy

Dr. Terence C. Wade and Darlene K. Wade, LCSW, are therapists, consultants and trainers at EMDR Hawaii in Honolulu.

Where did you receive your schooling/training?

Terry: I received a BA in psychology from Stanford and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah. I completed an NIMH Internship in Hawaii and have practiced here since 1977.

Darlene: I worked as a special education teacher in Honolulu before I got my MSW from the University of Hawaii in 1991. We both treat adults who are victims of trauma or suffer from addictions, anxiety, depression or relationship problems. Terry also conducts evaluations for legal purposes, and I also treat adolescents and children.

What is EMDR Therapy?

Terry: EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is based on an adaptive information processing model, which proposes that our brains normally process information to adaptive resolutions.

However, exposure to traumatic events often disrupts normal processing. When traumatized people remember the events that traumatized them, or they are exposed to situations that are similar or symbolize them, they feel the same disturbing emotions and body sensations they did when the traumatic events occurred because their brains react in exactly the same way.

EMDR Therapy enables the disrupted processing to resume and complete, so the outcome feels like any other experiences people have had. Memories of normal experiences usually have no emotional or physical effects, or you feel appropriately sad, guilty, fearful and so on.

Most people think of EMDR Therapy as eye movements. But EMDR Therapy has eight phases, beginning with history taking, preparation and assessment, which may take quite some time. We want to be certain people are able to function during the course of treatment by containing disturbing emotions and body sensations, imagine themselves in a calm, safe place, and relax physically. Then we develop a treatment plan with the person in which we choose what to work on. The eye movements aren’t used until the fourth phase, when traumatic memories are reprocessed to adaptive resolution.

The initial goals of EMDR Therapy are to completely eliminate all disturbing emotions and body sensations that are part of traumatic memories (rather than simply reduce symptoms to more tolerable levels or teach people how to manage symptoms, which is all other therapies can do).

However, EMDR Therapy has three prongs: past, present and future. Treatment not only resolves past trauma, but also eliminates present triggers and develops future skills and abilities for getting the life you want once the effects of trauma are resolved and eliminated. Just because someone no longer gets upset about what happened to them and they aren’t triggered by present situations, that doesn’t mean they are able to function at their best and accomplish what they want. EMDR Therapy isn’t complete until that is addressed, too.

EMDR Therapy is not a talk therapy in the usual sense. The history taking, preparation and assessment phases involve talking with clients. But talking is minimal when eye movements are used in the reprocessing phase and when we develop resources that enable people to become more effective in the future.

Who is a candidate for EMDR Therapy?

Darlene: EMDR Therapy is used to treat a variety of psychological conditions in addition to trauma, including addictions, phobias, anxiety, depression and relationship problems. It is even used in optimal performance training. EMDR Therapy is effective for all ages, from very young children to senior citizens, and people don’t need to disclose all the details of their traumatic experiences.

EMDR Therapy has been designated as an effective treatment by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the American Psychiatric Association, among others.

EMDR Therapy practitioners are licensed mental health professionals who are located throughout Oahu and the neighbor islands.

How long does EMDR Therapy take?

Darlene: If a person has only experienced one recent traumatic event, treatment with EMDR Therapy is typically brief. However, treatment will take longer the more traumas a person experienced, the earlier they occurred, and the more complex they are. The fist concerns are always safety, stability and support.

When did you receive your training in EMDR Therapy?

Darlene: EMDR Therapy was discovered in 1987 by psychologist Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. We began our training with Dr. Shapiro in 1991 and became facilitators soon after that when we founded EMDR Hawaii. We are charter members of the EMDR International Association, and we are certified therapists and consultants. We regularly attend EMDRIA annual conferences, and we bring EMDR Institute trainers to Hawaii to teach other licensed therapists with whom we consult afterwards.

You said that EMDR Therapy is not a talk therapy. Why is that important?

Terry: Emotional trauma is caused by inescapable threatening experiences. Perceptions of threat are stored in a primitive part of the brain that is activated before consciousness – before our ability to think or talk about it – which is a survival reaction that all animals share. (If we had to consciously decide if something was a threat, our reactions would be much too slow to survive.)

As a result, therapy can only be effective if it works with a traumatic emotional reaction before it reaches consciousness and the ability to talk about it. Talk therapy cannot do that. Conversely, if a traumatized person can talk about their trauma, they aren’t experiencing it.

What about exposure therapy that has people relive traumatic experiences?

Terry: There are three reactions to traumatic events: Fight, flight, and freeze. The first two involve intense physiological activation. The third involves numbing of emotional and physical reactions. Exposure therapy has high drop-out rates because it forces people to relive traumatic experiences over and over again. People who complete the therapy change from fight-or-flight to freeze, and their reactions are numb to what previously activated them.

How can people learn more about EMDR Therapy?

Darlene: Online resources are the EMDR International Association, which provides many more details about EMDR Therapy, at EMDRIA.org, and Dr. Shapiro’s EMDR Institute, at EMDR.com.

Dr. Shapiro also founded a humanitarian assistance program to help victims of natural and man-made traumas around the world, which can be found at EMDRHAP.org.

EMDR Hawaii regularly trains other therapists in EMDR Therapy (if they are licensed professionals or in a program that will result in being licensed).

You can visit EMDR Hawaii at EMDRHawaii.com or call us at 521-EMDR (3637) for more information.

Getting Past Your Past With EMDR Therapy

Terry and Darlene present on EMDR Therapy at the Fifth Annual Pacific Regional Behavioral Health Summit.

Wade, T. C., & Wade, D. K. (2016). Getting past your past with EMDR Therapy. Fifth Annual Pacific Regional Behavioral Health Summit, Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, September 9.

2016 EMDR International Association Annual Conference

The 2016 EMDRIA Annual Conference will be held on August 25-28, 2016, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis Hotel.

The 2017 EMDRIA Annual Conference will be in Seattle, Washington, and the 2018 EMDRIA Annual Conference will be in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

EMDR Therapy Basic Training in Honolulu in December 2015 and April 2016

Darlene Wade, LCSW, and Terence Wade, PhD, will host EMDR Therapy Basic Training in Honolulu.

Weekend One will be held on December 4-6, 2015.

Weekend Two will be held on April 1-3, 2016.

The location for both Weekend One and Two will be New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, 2863 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, 808-923-1555.

Darlene Wade, LCSW, can be contacted at 808-521-3637 (521-EMDR).

The EMDR Institute Trainer will be Barbara Parrett, RN, MS.

The EMDR Institute Basic Training Overview can be found here.

Registration information can be found here.

Information about the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel can be found here.

EMDRIA Annual Conference celebrates 25 years of EMDR!

The EMDR International Association Annual Conference will be in Denver, Colorado, on September 18-21, 2014.

EMDRIA strives to provide a Conference dedicated to high quality presentations by trained clinicians and researchers to establish, maintain and promote the highest standards of excellence and integrity in EMDR practice, research and education. With this in mind, participants will be able to identify best practices and emerging research in the treatment of trauma; they will be able to apply advanced clinical skills in the use of trauma treatment modalities; and they will be able to identify ethical dilemmas and appropriate resolutions in educational settings, clinical supervision, and clinical practice.

Please visit the Conference Website here.

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