Be an EMDR Advocate: Support EMDR as a Treatment of PTSD

By Scott Blech, CAE
Executive Director, EMDRIA

With one in five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffering from PTSD or major depression according to a Rand Corporation study., Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is naturally an issue in the forefront of the minds of our mental health professionals, especially those that treat veterans or military personnel.  However, practitioners wishing to treat these clients with EMDR may face difficult and unnecessary hurdles.

At this point, it is clear that EMDR treatment has been rendered difficult, if not impossible, for most veterans and their families to receive. For example, the Defense Centers of Excellence and the Veterans Administration issued a large contract for training only in Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy.  As many of you already know, TRICARE insurance refuses to pay for EMDR therapy despite EMDR having an “A” rating in the published guidelines of the Department of Defense/Veterans Administration. The recently published guidelines of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies also gave EMDR a level “A” rating for treating PTSD in adults.

At a time when the demand for mental health treatment of the military and veterans is great and growing, it makes no sense to limit the menu of proven treatments for PTSD. It is outrageous that TRICARE and senior military officials are not recognizing EMDR as one of the most effective treatments for PTSD.

Here’s how you can help. The EMDRIA Board Military Task Group has prepared a sample letterthat anyone wishing to contact their Congressional Representatives may use, either in its entirety, or as the basis of your letter.  Please include personal stories and experiences in your letter – these will make it more personal and powerful.  EMDRIA has also prepared a paper, “Providing EMDR Mental Health Services for the Military” that you can send with your letter to further inform your Congressman.


One thought on “Be an EMDR Advocate: Support EMDR as a Treatment of PTSD

  1. I agree that EMDR is very effective with combat PTSD. I have treated over 100 veterans referred from the VA and found EMDR to be an excellent resource once solid rapport is established. I have 6 letters from veterans that are testimonials as to the benefits of the treatment. My take is that EMDR is only a part of the treatment and it is equally important that they develop the Emotional Intelligence to express their thoughts and feelings with accuracy. This is probably as big a hurdle as the treatment itself. Most vets have been trained to believe that their thoughts are minimally important and their emotions are even less important. The larger issue is getting the vet to stay in treatment long enough to develop the latter skills.

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