Today I had my two hourly EMDR session with my psychotherapist. It was much needed as I had been experiencing severe flashbacks all week. The EMDR Therapy is fantastic as is helps me to process the flashbacks and takes the ‘heat’ out of them lessening their traumatic impact which can be dreadful. I had been getting little sleep due to the nightmares associated with the flashbacks and the suicidality was running high. I have just come out of a Mental Health Clinic following a suicide attempt so am very vulnerable.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.
“In 1987, psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts, under certain conditions. Dr Shapiro studied this effect scientifically, and in 1989 reported success using EMDR to treat victims of trauma. Following this initial discovery, many treatment studies were conducted, and there are now more published treatment outcome studies on EMDR than any other treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (Description from the Australian EMDR Association). “
This process is very intimate and requires a great level of trust in the therapist. This takes time to build. We built such a trust over time and EMDR could begin coupled with medications to control the depression, crippling anxiety and mood swings.
“During EMDR, the therapist works with the client to identify a specific problem as a focus for the treatment session. The client then calls to mind the disturbing issue or event, what was seen, felt, heard, thought, etc. The therapist will then begin eye movements or other bilateral stimulation. These eye movements are used until the memory becomes less disturbing and is associated with a positive thought and belief about yourself. (From the EMDR Association).”
Often for me, we do not target a specific event but commence the process and an event erupts. I would find myself in uncontrollable tears as I relive the death of a child, a rape, vicious beating or whatever traumatic memory was obviously being dealt with by my subconscious. At the end of the EMDR process, we talk about the material and process, lessening its power. Often as not this takes several sessions to endure and would at times appears to have been overcome when it refluxes itself back under EMDR again some months later when another detail was rekindled. I often attempt to exit the room only to be held in the safe arms of the therapist on whose shoulders I am able to let go my long held in tears and pain. She persuades me to remain in the room and sit back down and recommence the session. If it is too painful, we just talk. She skilfully would bring me back to the here and now and never let me leave that room under the influence of EMDR, always ensuring I am living in the present once again.
Today’s session involved a wretched rape by two men when I was nine years old in a room in Ireland where I was held from the age of four to eighteen only been released periodically to roam the beaches and streets of the village where I lived. Inexplicably the room would at times be left unlocked and I would be free to leave. To this day it still perplexes me why no one noticed me, either my absences or reappearances. As the movie Spotlight so poignantly said “It takes a village to raise a child and a village to ignore one.
Without the careful care of my psychotherapist, I would not be alive today. She guides me through these agonising sessions three times a week, relieving me of the burden of the secrets that I had to hold so dear to my heart of my fourteen years of child abuse. She listens with compassion and non-judgment constantly telling me that my shame and guilt are not mine to own but rather that of my perpetrators. Those that violated and my parents for organising the paedophile ring. Much as she tells me I cannot believe her. Their grooming was too good. Too expert. Perhaps in time, I will believe. In the meantime, I am forever grateful for having her in my life.