The Trauma Client's Experience of Eye Movement Densensitization and Reprocessing: A Heuristic Analysis

Dissertation, The Union Institute (1999)

Traumatic stress and its impact on the individual, family and society have been described in the literature for over one hundred years. Controversy exists regarding etiology, determinants and therapeutic intervention for traumatic stress. There is limited research regarding the comparative value of treatment of trauma. In 1989 Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing emerged as a therapeutic intervention for traumatic stress. Studies have shown the benefits of EMDR to be equal to or superior to those of other therapies in the treatment of PTSD. To date, the value of EMDR has been measured primarily by the decrease or amelioration of symptoms. Limited research has focused on the client's experience of EMDR and life changes after EMDR. The specific aim of this study was to: generate a description of the personal experience of the EMDR process, identify whether life changes had occurred after EMDR, and if any life changes had occurred describe the changes and the nature of these changes. Data were collected via unstructured interviews with seven individuals who had experienced some form of trauma, and who had experienced EMDR as a therapeutic intervention for trauma. van Manen's and Heidegger's interpretive processes were used to guide the method of data analysis. The shared meanings identified were: Set-up for Harm, Being Stuck, Willing to Risk in Spite of..., Release, Movement and Ongoing Movement. The participants all described childhood events of being put in harms way. As adults participants felt frustrated with their inability to change personal and relational alienation which resulted from the childhood events. However, in spite of incredulity and fears, risking the experience of EMDR was primarily dependent on trust in the therapist. All experienced emotional, cognitive and physical release in response to the EMDR experience which allowed participants to move forward with their lives
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