A lot of therapists do EMDR. As I’ve said before on this blog, I’ve had it described numerous times to me and it was still confusing. And yet most therapists don’t describe it at all! (Or they spell out what the E, M, D, and R stand for which is about as unhelpful as not typing the words in the first place!)
As an EMDR patient myself now, I can vouch for it’s powers. The part that I find most amazing is I just experienced my first full blown, post-EMDR moment which would have been a huge trigger for me. And I remained extremely calm… without HAVING to “try” to stay calm. In fact it was only later realized the whole episode would have been really ugly, even a month ago.
I am purposefully self-disclosing here because a big reason why I have this blog and all my trainings is to ACTUALLY HELP people, and you are the vessel, as a psychotherapist, to helping a lot of people. By my witnessing, experiencing, and helping you translate your professional work, I will be indirectly ensuring more people get the help they need (not simply that YOU alone fill your practice, but that your words will lower the threshold for someone to actually enter therapy.) And the more people that can heal, the better spouses, parents, friends, employees, and citizens of the world they can be. And that is a beautiful thing.
EMDR goes against the stereotype therapy has…that it’s a “skill building” exercise like you’d get in anger management or general stress reduction. Oh, I did the “breathing” through my triggering moments..and it helped a little, but it didn’t explain or prevent the episodes. A friend of mine who is bipolar talks about getting really good therapy on what triggers her and ways she can calm herself down or rearrange her daily life to ensure she doesn’t trigger. Her explosions are part of who she is and she has drugs to help her. She’s always been that way. I had never acted this way before, but I felt totally out of control in the moment (like a little monster took over, briefly.) I missed the old-me.
Here’s one way to describe EMDR, which is predicated on further educating the public on what trauma can be. PTSD has a bad wrap for ONLY being a war, rape, or more traditional definitions. Mine was from a very rare pregnancy-related, super scary medical problem.
Feel free to use these words or change them up to make it in your voice. Or maybe you’d emphasize something and de-emphasize something else:
Something bad may have happened to you. This could be a one time event, or ongoing situation. It may be as “big” as rape, murder, living in an abusive home, or as “small” as witnessing something scary. There are countless ways the world can purposefully, or accidentally harm us, publicly or privately. We often think time heals all wounds and that we’ll get over it. Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen. And sadly, even if we’re able to lock away the memories, or tell ourselves it wasn’t THAT big a deal and to “stop over-reacting”, our bodies and brains don’t forget. We may act unusual, be more agitated, have new ways of viewing the world, or feel somewhat normal until something happens and then a little monster comes out. Maybe you start yelling at your kids. Or you become really obsessed with work to the point you don’t even care that your family needs you at home. Things you used to love become annoying. There are an infinite number of ways you may just not quite feel right, but you don’t necessarily associate it with the trauma you experienced. Sometimes trauma happens with a life event, like having a new baby, so you figure this is just the new reality of your life. You excuse it away until you finally have had enough. You want you back.
There is a way to work through the trauma without having to simply talk about it. Afterall, maybe you did a lot of talking and nothing changed. The process, called EMDR, lets your body and brain release the trauma. After therapy, you don’t have to work at not being agitated, or remember to not yell at your kids. It’s not a “skill building” process. It won’t even occur to you to act that way because your body and brain get realigned to the way they used to be before the trauma. Often you feel even better than before because you’ve got new insights and a sense of control again. It’s a great form of therapy for those who don’t want to talk about what happened in detail, for those who are really insightful about what happened but still feel stuck in the “muck” of negative thoughts or actions, or those who don’t want to spend years in psychotherapy. (EMDR can be fast with long-term results.)