Utah Stories

Rapid Eye Therapy

Use the Power of Sleep to Access Your Unconscious Memories


Illustration by Chris Bodily

On Christmas Day in 2012, Shannon Weatherly’s husband of 20 years went to work the holiday shift at the couple’s restaurant. He failed to come home that evening, and, after multiple phone call and texting attempts, Shannon finally received a text the following morning. Her husband bluntly communicated that he wanted a divorce. Stunned, Weatherly was now stranded with two teenage children.

Such traumas sometimes lead Utahns to use anti-depressants, but Shannon decided to address her depression and anxiety through Rapid Eye Technology (RET). In a RET session, a technician uses a wand to direct eye movement and blinking patterns that simulate Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep while the patient is awake. The claim is that the directed wand patterns allow subconscious unresolved issues to be unlocked and brought to the surface. “I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for the treatment,” says Weatherly, who is now remarried. “RET helps you to deal with issues and accept them as ‘a part of life’ that you can move past. It helped me to overcome the negative emotions that would have torn me apart.”

Weatherly says that within a matter of months, her treatments were effective. She no longer feels overwhelmed by depression and bitterness. With a major trauma such as hers, twice-a-month therapy is recommended, often in conjunction with other forms of counseling.

“It allowed me to look at deeper issues that were still affecting me from my past as well,” she explains. “Issues I was able to confront much easier with my therapist because of RET.”

RET is associated with the larger psychological therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). While RET can be performed by a certified RET practitioner, an EMDR session must be conducted by a qualified psychotherapist. EMDR therapy also stimulates rapid eye movement, and allows negative unconscious memories to be “digested” and “processed.”

Many Utah psychologists practice EMDR and have documented their results. Dr. Jacqueline Hyde of Park City explains, “I generally use EMDR to help heal the emotional anxieties surrounding trauma. This can be Trauma with a capital T, such as severe abuse or nearly drowning as a child; or, it can be trauma with a little t, such as being belittled as a child after falling off a bike. Usually, EMDR is effective in clearing out past experiences, but it can be applied to current life situations as well.”

A study financed by insurance giant Kaiser Permanente suggests that EMDR is twice as effective in half the amount of time when compared to conventional psychological treatment.

Both RET and EDMR counseling can be completed in a set amount of sessions, each varying with the type of issue involved.

For information on RET: www.rapideyetechnology.com/

For information on EMDR: www.emdria.org

A conversation with Dr. Jacqueline Hyde:

What is your experience with EMDR?

I learned first-hand how effective EMDR is when I was a post grad intern. My supervisor trained me in it, and then demonstrated it by helping me work through the death of someone close. I now use EMDR regularly in my private practice to help clients work through previous trauma.

Is it successful for everyone?

With EMDR, there are no right or wrong answers. This takes away any anxiety in the patient about “doing it right,” and helps them relax and let their subconscious minds guide them. Measuring success is personally defined. Last month, I had a skeptical patient who agreed to “try” EMDR. Then next week he reported that the emotional anxiety tied to his trauma had cleared out.

What is the biggest misconception about it?

I tell clients about EMDR only after they are comfortable with me and the therapeutic process. Otherwise, the client may think it is some type of weird fringe intervention. Once I explain how the mind processes the events of the day using Rapid Eye Movement, it seems make more scientific sense.

Are there any drawbacks to it?

The only drawback I have noticed is that it can be emotionally and physically taxing for the patient, even hours after the session ends. Perhaps the client will report a headache and have to take the rest of the day off to sleep or relax. I highly recommend EMDR to anyone still coping with past traumas.


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