Do You Co-Device?

You may well ask what that is.

Two friends in their early twenties pause after sharing a meal and conversation. They hesitate, almost imperceptibly, then look discretely into their laps where they set to work on their smart phones. It’s no secret what they’re doing. They’ve tacitly agreed that this is an acceptable juncture to tend to their devices, respectfully. To be alone together.

Another restaurant, another duo, most likely a couple, sit blandly staring at their screens after having ordered their meal. They have not spoken since they arrived at the restaurant. Their silence seems more one of boredom, possibly it’s sullen, maybe angry. But I don’t know any of these people.

Yet another couple, in their early sixties. I do know them. They talk throughout the day — have a loving relationship. Yet when I come upon them in the early evening, they too are glued to their devices. This is a silence of comfort, habit.

Do you spend time being alone with a friend, partner, spouse, family — and your smart phone, tablet, or other device? (“co-devicing” — if you will). What is the quality of that time spent together? How does it reflect upon your relationship? Are there rules of engagement — when it’s okay and not okay to use your smart phone within your relationship? Are these talked about? Do you ever find yourself having device regret?

An interesting book, Too Much Magic: Pulling the Plug on the Cult of Tech by Jason Benlevi addresses a broad range of issues related to technology and our relationship with it and ourselves. It’s not hard to see where he stands on the issue, but he raises a lot of interesting points. More thoughts to come, as I finish the book.

EMDR: Some Distinguishing Characteristics

Back in March, in the wake of the tragedy in Afghanistan when 17 were allegedly murdered in their homes by U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, military clinical psychologist Mark C. Russell, Ph.D., ABPP, penned a piece for the Huffington Post that touches upon some of the politics involved in using — or not using — Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR). He includes a brief bulleted list of things that differentiate EMDR from other exposure therapies:

• requiring little client self-disclosure and minimal therapist input

• not compelling clients to repetitively retell vivid details of trauma events

• requiring no homework, as compared to 40-60 hours of CBT homework completion

• not requiring teaching of coping skills, cognitive restructuring, or rational disputation

• a single protocol shown to simultaneously treat symptoms associated to PTSD, depression, anger, dissociation, traumatic grief, guilt, and medically unexplained symptoms including phantom limb pain

• effectiveness with both acute and chronic stress injuries

• better tolerated by clients than exposure therapies (e.g., PE [Prolonged Exposure])

• generally more rapid treatment effects than standard talk therapies

I can’t speak to all these assertions, but Russell cites the following article:

Russell, M.C. (2008). Scientific resistance to research, training, and utilization of EMDR therapy in treating post-war disorders. Social Science and Medicine, 67(11), 1737-1746].

Never Heard of EMDR?

An Unusual, but Well Validated Therapy.

I’m often surprised (though I really shouldn’t be) when someone, especially non-colleagues, have not heard of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR). It’s an unusual therapy, to be sure, that involves the therapist waving a hand in front of the patient’s eyes as part of the treatment. It’s not hypnosis. It also happens to be one of the most (if not the most) researched and validated therapies that exist.


Here’s a light introduction, a piece by Alix Strauss at last month’s Harper’s Bazaar. It’s a first-person account from someone that found the therapy helpful. I might quibble with some of the details, but the gist of the piece is this: It works.

Like Something with a Bit More Substance?

Hop over to the paper of record and take a gander at this Q and A session with Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., founder of EMDR. The Times published two follow-up articles, both from March this year — The Evidence on EMDR and Expert Answers on EMDR — both featuring solid explanations, links, and responses from Dr. Shapiro.