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  #1  
Unread June 9th, 2005, 01:18 PM
daisy7 daisy7 is offline
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Default is my experience normal

Hi, I just had my first EMDR session. I am wondering if what I experienced is an indication that it may not work for me. As I viewed the image of one my traumatic experiences, while the therapist did the hand movement, I felt no emotion at all...even the very first time I viewed it. However, when I talked about this experience in the past, it always brought up emotion. The other part of the session that concerned me is the fact that I just kept going from one childhood memory to another without much feeling. As well, I could not remember many vivid details of these events. My concern is that I just used my mind to bring up memories from my past that I can remember at all. It felt as though I was not in touch with the memories I was having because I did not experience the feelings that went with the events at the time they actually occured. It also felt like there was alot of things in my mind that I would not let come to the surface...like my consciousness was more in control than anything that should happen naturally. Do you think that this means that EMDR will not be effective for me either because I can't let go or because there may not be much emotion attached to the events and maybe they did not have an impact like I thought.
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  #2  
Unread June 16th, 2005, 11:17 PM
Sandra Paulsen Sandra Paulsen is offline
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Default Re: is my experience normal

There is no single response to EMDR, and different people have very different experiences. Sometimes people will have a visual channel processed, without cognition, or affect (for example), and later have the cognitive or affective channels come up between sessions or during the next EMDR. Its variable.

(Definition: "cognition" means thoughts, and "affect" means emotion).

The way we tell if EMDR is working is like this.
1) at the next session, we ask, "what happens now when you think of the original picture? and we check disturbance and how true the positive cognition is now. If its still disturbing we have more work to do. If its not disturbing we see if the issue is now resolved in life. I do that by having them check into the future and imagine facing that issue. If its still disturbing, we work the issue with the next EMDR target that presents itself.

2) we check to see how life is going. If symptoms are improving, and if life is getting better and functioning is improving, well, that's the measure of success. So we don't worry much about the content of EMDR as long as the person isn't destabilizing. We focus rather on how functioning is going.
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  #3  
Unread June 17th, 2005, 07:50 AM
daisy7 daisy7 is offline
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Default Re: is my experience normal

Hi,

Thanks so much for the response. When I went home from the session, I actually had an awful episode of reliving the memory right there in my apartment...with all the fear and even the actions. It was strange, I thought I was 10 years old again. So I guess my processing happened after I left the session. The memory is still disturbing so based on your response, I guess there is still more work to do. And for me, there is a childhood of memories...so I guess we do them one by one?

I have have one more question...is some of the other posts I read that the therapist will go over the new positive belief that they want to instill in the client...while to the eye movement. During my session last week, we did not mention anything about the positive like "I am lovable" while doing the eye movement. Will that change the effectiveness?

Thanks
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  #4  
Unread June 17th, 2005, 08:37 AM
Sandra Paulsen Sandra Paulsen is offline
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Default Re: is my experience normal

PS. In EMDR sometimes the process causes things to come to mind that the client is not ready to deal with. Either within or outside of EMDR, the therapist can help the client weigh the pros and cons of having those things come to mind to make the best decision. Sometimes the client needs to feel stronger, through ego strengthening procedures, and then is willing to do EMDR and let the material come up.
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  #5  
Unread June 17th, 2005, 10:52 AM
daisy7 daisy7 is offline
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Default Re: is my experience normal

Hi,

Not sure if your last email was in response to my last post. I have a few more questions I am hoping you can address...

1. How does a client know if they are not ready to bring forth a memory because they do not want to deal with it.

2. What does a client need to do in order to bring out the associated emotions so they can be felt, owned and worked through?

3. My therapist said that I "numb out" and that it is consistent with the fact that I am a "cutter". Can you tell me more about this?

4.There is a childhood full of traumatic experiences...so I guess we do them one by one?

5. I have one more question...in some of the other posts I read that the therapist will go over the new positive cognition that they want to instill in the client...while doing the eye movement. During my session last week, we did not mention anything about the positive like "I am lovable" while doing the eye movement. Will that change the effectiveness?

Thank you so much for sharing your expertise.
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  #6  
Unread June 17th, 2005, 09:05 PM
Sandra Paulsen Sandra Paulsen is offline
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Default Re: is my experience normal

At the end of the standard protocol, one installs the positive cognition. If the session didn't get to a natural end, but rather ran out of time, the therapist wouldn't necessarily do the installation.

If the processing happens after the session, it reminds me of what happens in a car. If one steps on the accelerator hard while also stepping on the brake, then take the foot off the brake, that car will lurch forward. If the brakes are on during EMDR processing, through defenses, fear, resistance, or parts of the self not being on board with the plan, the processing will not complete normally. Later after the session, with the foot off the brakes, boing! the processing lurches forward.

Its not ideal, and its why I like to make sure I have consent from more than the front part of a person when I do EMDR with someone with a complex trauma history. This may or may not apply in your case, its intended as a general learning point.
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  #7  
Unread June 17th, 2005, 09:17 PM
Sandra Paulsen Sandra Paulsen is offline
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Default Re: is my experience normal

Okay, here are a few thoughts about your last questions. Please bear in mind that I can't do case consultations here ....not enough information and too public a domain. But I'll say some general things that may or may not apply in your case; talk to your therapist if you wonder if they apply to you.

3. I'm starting with your third question because it lays foundation for the others. Individuals who "numb out" are dissociative to a greater or lesser degree. Cutters are often, not always, dissociative people who cut to relieve the pain of unresolved trauma and their emotions, body sensations, and awarenesses.

1. Non dissociative people pretty much know if they are ready or not. Dissociative people often don't know, much as if they were locked out of their own house, stuck on the porch wondering about what's inside. Its the therapist's job to have an appropriate learned strategy for getting permission to enter the house, gently opening the door, and exploring the rooms. That learned therapist can then take a vote, or use another method to determine what the occupants of the WHOLE house, not just the porch, are ready for.

2. Before the emotions can be owned and worked through, it is the therapist's job to make sure the client has sufficient ego strength and positive resources to tolerate the work of working through trauma. Its almost mathematical. If the size of the pain is greater than the size of the ego strength, the EMDR could be overwhelmingly painful. If the size of the strength is greater than the pain, the EMDR might be uncomfortable, but it will go okay and result in a good completion and shift to the positive cognition. Indeed the client needs to cooperate and be willing, but really and truly, alot of this is up to the therapist to size up and adequately prepare the client.

4. A childhood full of trauma can be transformed by EMDR and other procedures, but that's not all there is to it. There is first a necessarily extended phase of ego strengthening and stabilization, learning and practicing grounding and containment skills, trust and rapport between the two people. The process of getting to know the occupants of the house can take time and effort, through ego state therapy. The trauma processing itself isn't necessarily one EMDR for each trauma. It can sometimes be group and chunked into fractions. It depends on the person and whats in the ....er....basement or attic.

5. I think I answered that question in my prior answer. Thanks for good questions.

Again, remember, I don't know you and your particulars. You deserve to have your own situation sized up appropriately and professionally. You might take this to your therapist to guide your conversation.

Sandra Paulsen PhD
Bainbridge Island WA
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