Next to pictures of a sleepy cat and a Sesame Street muppet modeled after her Westworld character, Evan Rachel Wood posted an Instagram selfie April 18 showing off “hopeful” eyes and a mascara stained cheek to announce she is undergoing Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, or EMDR.
“It’s a kind of trauma therapy and I must say, is absolutely fantastic,” the sexual assault survivor and victim’s rights advocate wrote of the psychotherapy practice founded in the late 1980s by Francine Shapiro and geared toward those suffering from PTSD and trauma stemming from assault, rape and addiction.
I just started #EMDR. (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Its a kind of trauma therapy and I must say, is absolutely fantastic. Crying has never felt so good. For people struggling with their past traumas or PTSD and have the means to do so (which everyone should and it pisses me off that mental health is a luxury) I highly recommend this intense but very effective treatment. This is what I look like after a session. Been through a lot, purged a lot, but my eyes are clear and hopeful. Also, NO. SHAME. IN. GETTING. HELP.
A post shared by Evan Rachel Wood (@evanrachelwood) on
The practice involves a therapist guiding a client’s eye movements by hand, light or sound while asking them to recall and reprocess painful memories. The sessions can sometimes last up to 90 minutes.
Though it’s recognized as an effective treatment by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense, EMDR still has its critics who argue that it’s a pseudoscience and that studies only track the recovery of a small number of patients. Still, Wood found celebrity support for her revelation from Brie Larson and Whitney Cummings, the latter of whom wrote “EMDR saved my life” in Wood’s comments.
EMDR Institute administrative director Robbie Dunton tells The Hollywood Reporter that her organization doesn’t track any potential boosts in new patients, but “such posts are very positive in that they encourage people who are suffering from symptoms of PTSD to get help.” As for those critics? “They have not kept up with the current research,” Dunton explains, citing recent studies by the International Society for Traumatic Stress. “The major organizations clearly find EMDR therapy effective.”
Lynn Bufka, Ph.D. and associate executive director of practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association, says when high-profile individuals share their mental health stories, “it helps break the stigma and reinforces the message that sometimes it’s OK not to be OK. It also encourages others to seek help when they need it.”
“APA encourages assessment of any psychotherapy through well-designed research studies. Applications of all psychotherapies and associated techniques should be based on what is learned through research about their effectiveness and safety with specific clinical populations for specific mental health problems,” Bufka adds. “Evidence-based practice in psychology is defined as the integration of the best available research, the clinician’s expertise, and the patient’s characteristics, culture and preferences.”
A version of this story first appeared in the April 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.