I want to share with you my EMDR experience – it’s amazing and it is going well. Healthline.com defines EMDR this way “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an interactive psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress. It is an effective treatment for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
A PERSONAL POST
I want My EMDR Experience – It’s Amazing, to be a personal post. A chance for you to get to understand EMDR from a personal standpoint. The definition above will be the only technical information I will share. From here in, it will be my personal experience with EMDR. I want you who may be suffering from PTSD to understand how valuable this treatment is. To know that, you must understand the way it works. Technical mumbo-jumbo is not gonna give you the knowledge you need.
I participated in Cognitive Processing Therapy sessions at the local hospital last summer. I am in no way dismissing this therapy, I am sure it can be helpful for many. This was not the case for me. I really did not make a connection with the leaders of the group and the therapy itself missed the target for me.
AMAZING FROM THE BEGINNING
My EMDR experience has been a bit different due to COVID-19, in that it has all taken place via video calls with my therapist! Normally, the focus is a light string or something visual in front of you. In my case, I have been listening to a tone via headphones, while on video call. Please understand that your specific experience could be different.
To begin, we identified the trauma. When beginning EMDR, this does not always have to involve a lot of talk about the trauma. It did for me, because I have worked with my therapist for a long while. I know her well and she knows me well. We identified 2 traumas. The death of my father at the hands of a surgeon who made an error. This led me to a huge MISTRUST in the very medical community that I am part of. The second trauma, the one causing headaches, poor sleep, nightmares etc., was the death of my husband via suicide.
A SAFE PLACE AND SETTING THE SCENE
My first task, was to establish a safe place to go to in case therapy (or at any other time) were to become overwhelming. To do this, I was asked to picture a place in my mind that brings me peace and relaxation. Next, I was asked to close my eyes, visualise this place, while the tone was playing in my ear. I have no idea of the length of time that this tone played. I know it varied, but this was controlled by my therapist and I was always lost in my thoughts. Establishing my safe place was a pretty short session with the tone. For me, this place is Wasaga Beach, listening to the waves, with the beautiful colours of the sun setting, and the orange-pink colour of the sunset.
Next, we established a starting point. The picture in my mind, the horrific scene that replayed and caused traumatic response for me was the police, the big police presence outside of my house when I called 911 to report my suspicions. This scene has caused issue for 17+ years for me. I was instructed to close my eyes, picture this scene, as the tone was played in my ear. After some time had passed, my therapist asked the question she would ask each time, “What came up with that?” And of course, I would give her my thoughts.
Always again, the same response, “go with that,” she would say, as I closed my eyes and continue listing to the tone, this time starting with the thought I ended up with last time!
SIMILAR TO THE “WHY THAT MAKES YOU CRY” QUESTION
I’m not sure if you are familiar with ‘the why that makes you cry.” If not you can read about it in my post Make Motivation Big. To find motivation, you keep asking yourself why, until you hone in on the true motivational thought. During EMDR, my therapist kept saying “go with that,” after I had shared my thoughts, signalling that she was going to start the tone again and wanted me to continue on with my thoughts, from the ending point of the last tone session. I would close my eyes and go back to my last thoughts. ALWAYS, every single time, that last thought led me to a string of new thoughts. Sometimes positive, sometimes negative, sometimes bringing me to tears. The sessions went on like this for about 30 minutes, every 2 weeks, for about 4 months before I brought myself to a place of healing.
Every time I closed my eyes, new thoughts would pop into my head. This was like having a conversation with myself about the scenes and thoughts playing in my head, as the tone was playing in the background, in my ears. I remember the tone sounding sometimes like it was saying something specific, like, “it is ok.” The tone seemed to be loud at times, low at times and gone at times. My therapist assures me it was always there, never really saying anything, and she never changed the volume. ON WE WENT.
There were many conversations with my husband that played on in my head. Also, conversations with my daughter and other influential people in my life. Remember, this was all happening in my thoughts, so this truly represented me, talking to me, while I worked through the traumatic events, MYSELF. The only comment my therapist ever made was “FAIR.” This gave me a TOTAL JUDGEMENT-FREE ZONE!
EMDR – AMAZING ENDING PLACE
My time with my therapist is always an hour long. We begin with a check in conversation. I would let her know how things had been since last call. She would ask … Did I have a lot of thoughts about my EMDR sessions between visits? No, not really. Are your nightmares still an issue? Constantly getting less and less prevalent! Are you feeling up to another session today? Most often, yes. There were some low days when I preferred not to and that was fine.
Four months later, the final scene in my head was very, VERY different from the traumatic scene that played out in front of my house the day my husband died. The final scene was the two of us sitting in the backyard, in the sun, in our lawn chairs, with our dogs, having a conversation. A pleasant, easy going conversation. I have come to a place where ANY thoughts that come to me at any time, day, night, intrusive, sad, happy … I go to that scene in the backyard and have a great conversation with my husband. To this day, this is what I do when ANY thought of Michael arrives in my day. We go to the backyard and we chat about my thought.
MY EMDR EXPERIENCE – IT’S AMAZING
When I have Googled “what is EMDR therapy like?” I found descriptions that sound similar to my experience. I want you to remember, that obviously, there will be differences. Not all sessions will carry out in the same way. Not all therapists will say exactly the same thing. HOWEVER, I can tell you that therapists ARE EMDR CERTIFIED. Be sure that yours is, to ensure correct therapy practices. The time frame is often about 3 months, according to my research. I cannot promise you my EMDR experience – my amazing outcome. I CAN PROMISE YOU, it is worth trying.
This was so successful for me that we have now moved onto working through my traumatic experiences with health care, so as to find a resolution there too.
AT THE END
At the end of my EMDR time, each session, my therapist asks me to vision myself putting all of my thoughts, pictures in my head, into a box. Then, she tells me to visualise the box closed, and go to my safe place and see that amazing orange-pink colour of the sunset at Wasaga Beach. She plays the tone while I do this. Often, my father joins me there and each session ends in a safe, secure, beautiful place for me.
My EMDR Experience was amazing and it brought a positive conclusion to this specific trauma for me. PTSD is torturous. PTSD changed my life. THE RIGHT DIAGNOSIS and the right therapy, has changed it again. This time, with improvement!