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The claim championed for Friedberg's Eye Movement
Technique (EMT) that it may be used to "rapidly reduce emotional
stress and redirect thinking in a positive, rational and optimistic way"
(p.2) Perhaps permanently, and without the expense of multiple professional
therapy sessions! Although cautious to advise sufferers of recurrent trauma
(including PTSD, mood & personality disorders) against self-treatment as a
sole pathway to emotional stress relief, Friedberg puts forth a structured set
of protocols for self-paced therapeutic implementation. Much of the first half
of the book is concerned with the stress, stressors, and the promise of EMT in
countering stress-related tension and incapacity. Numerous theories attempting
to explain the stress-reducing phenomenon following EMT sessions are too
briefly discussed, with varying degrees of plausibility. For the practicing
therapist or self-healer this is perhaps not a failing of the book, but I was
surprised not to find a section dealing with at least the sensory physiology
adjunct to applying EMT, or any discussion of its potential interaction with
the psychophysiology of the stress experience it seeks to alleviate.
In the 5th (how to do it DIY) chapter, we are
introduced to the technique itself in a step-by-step fashion, the reader being
led through a series of stages with clearly marked progression or repeat
indicants given at each stage. One progression (perhaps surprising to the
reader, especially given Friedberg's chosen title) is the suggestion that the
use of oscillatory eye movements be abandoned, and replaced instead by finger
movements. Indeed, the latter would appear to be Friedberg's preferred method
of therapeutic interaction with his own clients (though he still calls it
EMT?). This instead uses a distractive flip-flop bimanual tapping his
clients' hands or shoulders whilst having them silently ponder on questions
reminiscent of the therapy schools of thought derived from Roget or Ellis.
The latter half of the volume is exclusively devoted
to providing case studies and extracts of actual therapy sessions from the
authors own clinical archives. Each of these later chapters deal with specific
concerns (phobia, panic, chronic pain, personal and social anxieties) with
accompanying procedures being retold amidst success stories, mostly with a
positive outcome for the client. The most remarkable and repeated claim,
however, is not for EMT providing relief across such a wide range of
conditions, but in its speed of efficacy -- often within a single session,
without requiring repeated administration.
For those trying to help manage, or those actually
suffering from the effects of pre-clinical emotional stress conditions, EMT
remains worthy of investigation. I would suggest that EMT (albeit received in
the form of oscillatory eye movements or bimanual tapping) might at the very
least prove a good vehicle in actively disrupting recurrent ruminations
and the often-repeated intrusions into ongoing thought processes familiar to
the sufferer of emotional stress. Whether Friedbergs EMT does any more than
merely interrupt worrisome replays by distraction (think here of your own
experience of trying to get rid of a tune that keeps going around in your
head), his own case archive would seem to suggest a high degree of success
with the technique(s) as illustrated in this volume. Add it to the therapy
bookshelf between Rational Emotive Therapy and Biofeedback.
2002 Tony Dickinson
Dr. A. R. Dickinson,
Dept. of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine
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