Client’s Experience of EMDR Therapy
I contacted an EMDR therapist who was recommended to me by my GP in the hope of getting “fixed”! I was struggling with the person I was and trying everything I could to be the person I felt I should be. I had reached a point where I was so unsure of myself and my self-esteem was at an all-time low. My existence was a constant analysis of my behaviour and interactions with others; living in fear of losing my relationship, saying the wrong thing, being disliked, apprehension in making decisions and a determination to become a better person. I had tried therapy before, I hoped that someone would understand and ‘get me’, that I would work with a therapist who I could share my fears with without judgement and then they could tell me the things I needed to change about myself but that never worked. In my mind I didn’t have any trauma or critical life experience that could explain or justify why I was feeling this way, only that my core belief was simply this, I am defective, I’m not good enough.
Engaging in EMDR was a learning experience; it was a journey, going right to my centre. Remembering, visualising, processing, acknowledging and addressing things that came up was very physical. I enjoyed the steady rhythm and sound of the bilateral beats; it was calming and at times I could feel my body release tension and pain that I’d held so tightly. My therapist also recommended an app that I could use outside of our sessions, I frequently used this to regulate during times of distress or anxiety. The space created between the therapist, and I was sacred, the trust you build when working together is imperative to success. Exposing your worries to someone else can make you feel so vulnerable but it’s only in doing this that you can find out why you even have those thoughts in the first place. The process of EMDR reconfigures the beliefs that you have about yourself that are causing you harm; harm to your head and harm to your heart.
Engaging with EMDR doesn’t take away your memories, it doesn’t skew or alter what you remember, it doesn’t shut away negative thoughts, but it guides you to a more rational and positive belief. I didn’t need “fixing”, I needed to know and believe that I am good enough as I am. I didn’t need someone else to tell me this, I needed to feel it and believe it myself. Something happens along the journey, so subtle you may not even be aware of it until you are and then you notice the healing you have absorbed. It’s changed my life really; I am so grateful to my therapist for the time and care invested in me. I am proud of myself for the commitment I gave to learning and engaging with EMDR and I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone to do the same. Client E.F 2023
“I have suffered from Generalised Anxiety Disorder for over twenty years and while traditional Counselling helped I have found EMDR has greatly helped to lessen Anxiety Attacks, providing a distance from the unwelcome anxious mind to a state of calm and relaxation. Sometimes I may not be aware of the reason for anxiety but after an EMDR session, there is a sense of release and peace” Client I.O.B 2023
“It’s not an understatement to say that I have found EMDR life changing. It has helped to unpick knots in my mind from trauma and process the effects of them. When I started emdr I was struggling daily with panic and anxiety disorder, disordered eating and drinking alcohol, I was heavily medicated and retreating further into my own world. It has helped me to see the burdens I carried with me, put them down and to move passed them into a much happier life and much healthier relationships. I believe in it so much that I plan to practise it with my own clients in the future. I’m very grateful to have found it and my practitioner”. Client S.K 2023
A Therapists experience with EMDR Therapy
EMDR Unveiled: Transformative Healing for Clients and Therapists Alike
Entering the realm of EMDR therapy, I bring not only my professional toolkit but also a suitcase filled with personal scars and triumphs. This journey into EMDR wasn’t just a career move; it was a confrontation with my demons. A vivid childhood memory remains etched in my mind—being separated from my mother at the age of 3 due to a medical procedure, a perforated appendix. This early trauma left a lasting mark, casting a shadow into my adult years and unsettling me in the face of life’schallenges. In 2017, I realised that this trauma was impacting my self-assurance and hindering my relationships, prompting me to seek the assistance of an EMDR therapist.
EMDR crashed into my life like a tidal wave, profoundly impacting me. It was more than therapy; it became a lifeline. The sessions were emotionally draining yet empowering. Furthermore, EMDR delved into areas where words fell short, resolving deep-seated pain. The scars that once defined me lost their power, sparking my journey to become an EMDR therapist.
At the core of EMDR therapy, safety pulsates. It serves as the crucible for the EMDR experience, integral for accessing the emotional core in recovery, fostering perspective shifts in lifestyle change, and combining factors for successful treatment. As van der Kolk (2015) notes, “The speed at which change occurs during EMDR contradicts the traditional notion of time as essential for psychological healing”. This accelerated change, he suggests, can be attributed to Francine Shapiro’s (2015) adept integration of elements from diverse psychotherapeutic approaches into the EMDR protocols. This adaptability facilitates effective service to a broad spectrum of clinical populations and ensures accessibility for clinicians with varying therapeutic orientations.
In EMDR therapy, I see it as a dance, where my embodied safety sets a confident rhythm, empowering clients in navigating their internal landscapes. As a therapist, I shape the structure, but not the content, adhering to Shapiro’s (2015) notion of letting the client’s adaptive information processing system (AIP) handle information.
According to the AIP model, unprocessed traumatic memories can get ‘stuck’ in the brain, causing psychological symptoms. EMDR aims to facilitate their natural processing, fostering adaptive integration. I’ve honed the skill of dancing with the client’s AIP system, activating it gently, and over time, this engagement requires less effort—an attunement, balancing, leading and following based on the client’s needs.
Reflecting on this approach from my client experiences, it felt respectful, mobilising my agency and choice throughout the therapeutic journey.
In the nuanced dance with clients carrying intricate attachment histories, I find that resource installation procedures can enhance EMDR, propelling the therapeutic relationship into a vortex of healing. Similarly, monitoring and adjusting the bilateral stimulation to the client’s needs contribute to a safe environment in EMDR therapy. This bilateral stimulation establishes the rhythm of our shared journey, creating a
secure space for growth and reprocessing.
I distinctly recall a client grappling with deep-seated abandonment issues triggered intensely by her husband’s departure during arguments. Employing EMDR in our therapeutic space, I delicately integrated bilateral tapping, guiding her healing journey. These subtle EMDR nuances fostered a rapid unfolding of our therapeutic relationship. Collaboratively, we reprocessed her childhood trauma, empowering her to grant her husband space during overwhelming moments. This transformative process unveiled the insight that reconnection often succeeds in disconnection. Observing her profound healing was not an isolated occurrence; I’ve noted a growing trend of client breakthroughs.
Reflecting on my learning journey, I emphasise the importance of dedicating more time to mastering resource enhancement in phase 2 of EMDR’s protocol, both in peer supervision and client work. In hindsight, this focus better equipped me, mainly when working with clients contending with attachment deficits. Additionally, experiencing EMDR therapy personally as a clinician was crucial for understanding the subtle somatic shifts and rhythms from the client’s perspective. This experience may prove beneficial for others as well.
In the heart of EMDR therapy, I find myself not just offering treatment but sharing an intimate experience—a journey of scars, resilience, and liberation. It’s a journey I’ve walked, and now, I walk alongside those who entrust me with their healing. For my fellow therapists contemplating EMDR, let me share from first-hand experience—the advantages are clear. You’ll witness accelerated client progress (i.e. form new neuropathways that will last a lifetime), gain access to a more extensive therapeutic toolkit, and encounter unexpected personal healing. It’s a journey I recommend, one that enriches both your professional practice and personal life.