What is the mechanism of using EMDR for treating PTSD?

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berkeman
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In a Facebook post recently by a friend of mine who is a very experienced Firefighter Paramedic FF/P (and currently a Captain at our local FD), he mentioned that EMDR had helped him a lot to deal with the traumatic events that Fire and EMS deal with. Several other FFs chimed in that EMDR therapy had helped them also, so I looked it up and so far I can't find a clear explanation of the details of the therapy.

What is EMDR therapy?​

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.
The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs/Dept. of Defense, The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and the World Health Organization among many other national and international organizations recognize EMDR therapy as an effective treatment. More specific information on treatment guidelines can be found on our EMDR and PTSD page.
https://www.emdria.org/about-emdr-therapy/

Does anybody have experience with this therapy? I've been pretty lucky so far in my 14 years in part-time EMS, with only a few extreme traumatic events that I've been able to deal with fairly well (good metric -- no bad dreams about the events), but I'm always interested in knowing about and understanding the options for maintaining good mental health when working in stressful medical fields.

BTW, I am experienced in CISD, and have used it multiple times with my EMS teams:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/...al-incident-stress-debriefing-traumatic-event

Update -- my FF/P Captain friend is a long time DMAT member. His experiences and deployments are some incredible and seriously crazy stuff. Think of the hardest deployments to disasters like Katrina and Tsunamis and Earthquakes worldwide, and think of austere medicine with very little in the way of medical supplies. That is some serious stress...

http://www.ca6dmat.org/
 
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Tom.G
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CISD, DMAT acronyms for????
 
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berkeman
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CISD, DMAT acronyms for????
Oops, sorry. Those acronyms are defined in the associated links, but I should have defined them so you wouldn't have to go do a bunch of reading to figure them out.

CISD is Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, and is used by some departments and organizations to help first responders deal with especially stressful calls. Like dealing with a minivan full of kids that's been T-boned, and a few kids are dead and the rest need extrication and emergent transport. CISD is a little controversial, since it is mandatory at some departments and handled more optionally at others. Some first responders say that talking through stressful incidents right afterwards is not necessarily helpful for them. I learned about CISD early in my EMS work, and I'm a believer in it.

DMAT is Disaster Medical Assistance Team, which are groups of medical professionals who do extra training to be available for deployment to disaster zones to help with austere medical treatment. DMAT teams are deployed world-wide (like to Haiti, for example), as well as domestically (like to Katrina). There are other groups like this that just deploy locally in their state or maybe the adjoining state. The Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics and EMTs (as well as some other specialties) that make up these DMAT teams typically are working professionals who can take time off from their work for these deployments. I believe that DMAT teams are paid during their deployments with federal dollars. Local groups that deploy may do so on a volunteer basis, or sometimes they are paid.
 

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