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Thistle November 3rd, 2008 05:57 PM

Re: emdr:nothing's happening

We have tried some other methods, and she has consulted with a couple of people, especially after attending the EMDR conference last year which had a number of sessions on dissociation.

I think sometimes I am just very stubborn. Mostly I think she is cautious as I tend to not process anything in session (EMDR or just talking) and then, after sitting on it for a few hours or more, have a major freakout. The majority of my stuff is early CSA, neglect, and avoidant-attachment.

I find it very difficult to take a snippet of a visual flashback, and answer questions about it concerning 'where I feel it in my body' or 'on a scale of 1-10...) when I am not feeling anything, and the only disturbing thing is that I have thought of this image, yet can't make heads or tails if its real or not, no matter how many times it comes up. Add a few ego-states to that and usually one just blows the whole thing off. So I end up back at safe places, and trying to get communication happening.

Didn't mean to hijack the thread. Sorry

Sandra Paulsen November 3rd, 2008 10:43 PM

Re: emdr:nothing's happening
Although I know nothing about your case and therefore have nothing to say that applies specifically to your situation, I can say this, in general. Therapists should not use the standard protocol on highly dissociative clients. The standard protocol is about lighting up the neuro-network, which is akin to applying the accelerator. Dissociative clients more typically need ego state work first and then fractionated EMDRs, which is rather like applying the brakes.

What should never ever happen, is for bilateral stim to be used in a directionless way, in hopes of thinning dissociative barriers in the absence of an appropriate focused stepwise protocol includnig on-point ego state work. To use bilateral stim in a global and diffuse way wiht a dissociative client is unwise ....That would be like removing the option of applying brakes, in order to hope to coast downhill. It sounds like a good idea at the beginning.

Thistle November 19th, 2008 08:24 PM

Re: emdr:nothing's happening
Oh Thanks, I forgot I posted here.

I don't think that the bilateral stim is used directionless. I did notice that in sessions that were only about ego-state work, perhaps 2 hours after a session, I would eventually react to the work and often have a switch that was hard to deal with. Using the bilateral stim (hand zappers), with guidance, tended to ground me a little more. It was also subtle-y helpful for ego-strengthening and getting a little bit of non-violent dialogue between parts started.

I would dissociate to a specific part using the light box, and then all bets were off about doing any helpful work at all, and the aftermath was pretty wild. So I think we only tried that a couple of times and stopped when I finally told the therapist what was going on behind the scenes and after session.

Working with parts takes a long time and I wish I could get it together to do a full on protocol, but I think it will take a while, if ever.

Bristol EMDR Practitioner April 25th, 2010 11:09 AM

Re: emdr:nothing's happening
Hi, I don't know if this will help or be relevant at all, but I have had a couple of clients feel as if nothing was happening initially. In one case, I think this was because focusing on the trauma was not as overwhelming and awful as she predicted; I think she expected to feel a lot more and so did feel as if nothing could be happening. The other was quite dissociative initially. However, they did both make progress, and EMDR was successful for both in the end. Best of luck.

Sandra Paulsen May 1st, 2010 09:27 AM

Re: emdr:nothing's happening
I have just reread this thread above, and am not responding to any particular post. However, I am saying as clearly as I can, in the plainest language I can find, that EMDR therapists should never use EMDR with dissociative clients without using an appropriate dissociative protocol. Doing ego state preparations with highly dissociative clients BEFORE doing EMDR will prevent a great many harms. Many EMDR therapists do not think this applies to them, that their clients are dissociative because they "haven't seen that" as if it shows, or is tattooed on clients foreheads. If nothing happens, it is sometimes (not always) because a protective part has stopped the work. Better to bring that part on board first. If there is a struggle between parts, better to have that dialogue in part first. Parts need to be oriented to present time, place and the one body they are in. I can tell when I read here that these steps are sometimes not occurring, which is not in the clients interest. I'm doing a day-long preconference workshop at ISST&D this year in Atlanta to help EMDR practitioners get this. Also, this years EMDRIA conference in Minneaplis has a theme of dissociation.

sixfeetunder June 9th, 2010 02:42 AM

Re: emdr:nothing's happening
Nothing happened for myself either. I wish I could be more help to you.

Catch-22 July 30th, 2010 09:23 AM

Re: emdr:nothing's happening
Hi, I am new here. I am visiting a psychologist and she has suggested I try EMDR. I myself have studied psychology but I am an absolute zero in my own psychology ./ I have tried two sessions and nothing has happened!!!!! I have not seen one single picture!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so angry about it!!! And disappointed, it was my last hope. Since three years I have been trying to solve my problem of sexual coldness, I hate sex but I am married I want my husband to be happy. So I have been doing it secretly all this time but in vain. So my psychologist said it would help. I would like to know WHY I cant see any picture and cant feel anything????? I just sit and smile and even analise what the psychologist is doing! I cant help it!!!! What am I doing wrong, by Jove????

Sandra Paulsen July 31st, 2010 06:10 AM

Re: emdr:nothing's happening
Well, the stance you describe is not ideal for EMDR for several reasons. 1) there may or may not be a "picture," 2) a stance of curiosity rather than anger at the process is ideal, where possible, 3) I can't comment about you specifically as I obviously know nothing about you, but for many people whose EMDR is blocked it is because a protective function, defensive part of self, is stopping the EMDR for some kind of reason that is understandable. I use ego state therapy to identify if that is true and solve that problem. I'm a bit puzzled as to whether you got proper instructions, because the first two points are part of the instructions, including "there are no supposed to's" and "just let whatever happens happen" or "let whatever comes up come up."

You might ask for a repeat of instructions. The other thing I'd wonder (and I wonder this about EVERYBODY, not just you) is whether there had been an appropriate screening for dissociation. Everybody getting EMDR should be first screened for dissociation, as that will identify whether protective parts are likely to block the EMDR. May or may not apply in your case.

Another and final thought: for those people who had very early attachment injuries or trauma that interferes with relationship functioning, there aren't pictures because the memories are stored in implicit memory. There are special EMDR procedures for that.

Catch-22 July 31st, 2010 09:03 AM

Re: emdr:nothing's happening
Hi again, thank you very much for answering. The problem is I have only 5 sessions paid by my ensurance and I can't afford paying the therapy on my own so I am limited to these 5 sesions. I have already attended three of them, the first one was kind of an introduction, the second one was talking and trying to find "the secure place" (I found it enormously hard to visualise a secure place in my mind) and the third one was EMDR itself. I do know I must let whatever happens happen but I can't. I just can't. I must say I have a VERY VERY strong self-control in all life situations and I am a person of intelligence rather then emotions. My friends say I am a stone, absolute emotionless whatever happens. I do feel emotions but deep, so deep in my "soul" or whatever it is (I am sure emotions are just empulses in the brain) so that noone not even my husband has an idea what I feel. I am always neutral and well-natured. I believe one can control one's emotions but NOT feelings (here is what I would call God since I am a religious person.) I suppose feelings are still explainable but not for us, at least not at this level of intellectual development.
So....Where were I? EMDR.....I only have two sessions left and I am really worried that I will just spend this precious time in vain!!!! What would you advise me? How can I find this blocking thought? (myself? - WEll I do have a KIND of psychological education athough in "educational psychology") What can I do to be a normal person and like sex with my husband? I have been trying EMDR at home ever since and have not succeded....I just don't see anything in my mind! It is absulutely empty, or I just start thinking about some sort of thing like cooking or my job or whatever....
I am really desperate.....:mad:

Sandra Paulsen August 1st, 2010 12:45 PM

Re: emdr:nothing's happening
I can't advise you because I don't know you, haven't assessed you. But I'll make a few general comments.

Five sessions is not enough to deal with long standing reluctance or defenses against emotions. Five sessions is only enough to help someone who is basically in good shape to get back on their feet.

Some people (I don't know if this applies to you) learned, usually very early in life, that emotions are overwhelming or bad or for permissible and/or safe or for someone else. They may also have learned to cut them off (they are in the right hemisphere, to make a long story too short) and live with words and logic and analytic reasoning (in the left hemisphere).

Such people can come to terms with their ability to feel emotions and body sensation, but it takes time. It takes careful resourcing, sometimes through spiritual resources, or nature, or other positive and life enhancing experience. It also take working directly with self protective parts of self to get them oriented to present time and circumstances (example, present family is not the same as the original family, if the original family was dangerous and present family isn't). This can take a few months or can take years.

For many people, EMDR wouldn't be the first order of business to solve this problem, unless there was a specific single sexual assault causing the sexual avoidance. People who can't generate a "safe place" typically are not suitable to proceed with EMDR by definition. This is part of the training in EMDR. Such people need more resourcing, containment, stabilization, grounding, and increased comfort with body sensation and emotion before doing EMDR successfully. That's why the treatment takes a long time.

Don't know if any of the above applies to you. Good luck to you!

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