Therapy is really hard. I basically go and cry. First I do a little run through of my week. Then the EMDR process starts. It goes like this.
Ms T asks me to take any problematic part of the week and think back to the feelings I had then. No problem – I have lots of problematic things each week, because basically, most things seem to trigger bad feelings for me. This time, I thought back to how I felt after a less than successful ‘Starbucks date’ – a quick meeting with someone from an online dating site. Which didn’t go super badly, just not well enough to wish to see each other again.
So I think back to how I was feeling, and she swings her hand back and forth in front of me. I feel kind of hypnotized, and one feeling seems to lead to another. Every minute or so, she stops swinging her hand, and asks me to tell her what’s going on for me. I say some stuff about how I feel or what comes to mind, and she continues on.
EMDR is a little difficult to exlain, so if you are interested, here is a short news segment that shows a war veteran being treated with it.
Hat tip to Michelle.
The difference between myself and this vet though is that I only partially remember the experience, as I was an extremely young child when I was assaulted and have blocked this particular event out. Which would be fine I suppose, except that bits of it keep coming back to me as ‘somatic memories’ which make my life a misery sometimes.
I know there is this whole sorry debate about so called ‘false memories’ implanted at the therapist’s office. No one has anything to gain by making up memories, in my case anyway. I remember enough inappropriate behaviour to make me suspect that these somatic memories relate to a particular relative who was abusive.
So in the EMDR, I go through feeling angry, to be terribly upset about something, to feeling exhausted and wanting to lie down. Really, I wanted to lie down in Ms T’s office, on the floor, and go to sleep. Luckily I didn’t.
It is an extemely odd feeling to have such vivid feelings, where I basically turn into a young very upset child, but have no picture of what actually happened to me.
From my basic research into EMDR, I don’t see it being used as a tool to explore somatic memories where the client doesn’t have visual memory. I really wonder if it’s going to help me, using it this way. Ms T says the idea is to allow emotions to emerge and that the EMDR technique accesses emotions very efficiently.
Once the emotions emerge, then presumably the somatic memories will stop playing in body over and over again, as they do at present.
In the stuff I have read and video clips I’ve seen, clients are processing traumas that occurred to them in adulthood and of which they have clear memories. That would be the easiest type of therapy to understand, so maybe that’s why these types of cases are being discussed. Perhaps. Or perhaps Ms T is way out on a limb and using this technique differently from the way it was intended to be used.
Well, it’s very painful, and I keep processing feelings for a few days after the session. I do have hope that this stuff is going to help. It’s true, my anxiety is much lower for days after these sessions. On the other hand, the pain of it all is not a great substitute for anxiety.