The Universe works in mysterious ways and this is one such tale, albeit entirely true. Allow me to share with you then, dear reader, my own marvelous experience of EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and what’s in it for you. But first, a few background words about EMDR. This particular therapeutic modality originated by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1989 was first used to treat psychological trauma with great success. Well-researched since then and embraced worldwide so much so that even the US Military supports the finding that EMDR is one of the top treatments of choice for war vets with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Now, that’s something! What’s more, it’s useful in treating other issues such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and even personal growth and performance enhancement. Meaning, it’s not limited to problems related to the past but can effectively treat current symptoms and empower clients to step into the future with a sense of self-mastery.
Having heard of the wonders of this therapy, I finally decided it was time to get the training for myself which I completed in June of 2014. I chose my facilitator - Dr. Andrew Leeds of The Sonoma Psychotherapy Training Institute - very carefully and couldn’t be more pleased with the caliber of training provided. Having trained directly with Dr. Shapiro, Dr. Leeds made his contribution by systematizing the documentation process of EMDR to ensure fidelity and has written a textbook that is becoming widely used for EMDR training. Perfecting this art with great clarity and care, he delivered us into the safe use of this powerful toolset which works on the neurological level to help the brain move past self-limiting beliefs.
Now, for the personal piece; as part of our training all the clinicians were provided the opportunity to practice EMDR in dyads, taking turns playing both therapist and client. During my experience as client, I chose to focus on a real mental block about expanding my professional growth through writing and specifically… blogging. Yes, this thing that you’re reading now would not be possible without the help of EMDR. Working through the process with my assigned therapist-partner, I identified the problem that was operating behind the procrastination; fear of rejection. There, I said it. Yes, therapists are humans too.
This fear was sneaky and didn’t want to be seen. It masqueraded in various forms of rationalization, mostly about being too busy to write which I had unknowingly allowed myself to buy into. Oh, I’ll get there…eventually, I told myself. Well, eventually was at that point two years deep. However, the structured EMDR process allowed us to quickly identify and resolve multiple contributory experiences of rejection, one going all the way back to 6th grade! In that particular memory, I was rejected by my best friend at the time, Juliana, who unlike me, seemingly made the transition from elementary to middle school with ease, becoming popular and leaving me in the dust. Unbeknownst to me on a conscious level, the memory of that experience was still stuck in my brain and doing damage. I was still holding onto a story about how painful it was to be sitting in the cafeteria by myself at lunch without any friends, literally crying in my soup and feeling totally alone in the world. Due to experiences like that, I created a story in my head that the world was an unsafe place so it was better to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Hence, the procrastination (aka fear of rejection).
During the reprocessing phase which uses bi-lateral stimulation of both hemispheres of the brain, I was able to quickly and easily work through these memories to realize that in truth we were both kids doing the best we could at the time. I came to see that it was never personal, so I wasn't actually rejected. Since I wasn't actually rejected, I could let go of what I made that experience mean; that the world was a cold and hostile place where I couldn't possibly be myself. Instead, I came to a point of compassion for myself (after all, my mother was struggling with cancer at the time leaving me feeling so overwhelmed!) and my best friend. Having had an opportunity to correct long held negative beliefs neurologically using EMDR, I came out of that “session” with a sense of renewed confidence, knowing that it was safe enough to share myself with the world through my writing. Even if not everyone appreciated what I had to say, I could handle it; I am and can be successful.
Now, as if this wasn't cool enough, get ready for the extra fairy dust magic at the end of the tale. Remember that best friend from 6th grade, Juliana? Well, she contacted me within 3 weeks of that EMDR experience. Having spent over 20 years searching for me, she never forgot our connection despite my having moved across the country after 6th grade and falling out of touch. We had an amazing time catching up and the gratitude I felt for that synchronous gift is indescribable. So, dear reader, the karmic lesson is this: when you can let go of the self-limiting beliefs that hold you back and make peace with your past, it all falls into place. Truly the world is a wonderful place.
Ever since this empowering experience, I’ve felt driven to spread the word about the tremendous benefits of EMDR and am seeing great success with my clients. If you feel inspired to explore how you can improve your life using EMDR, let’s talk! I’m available for a free phone or email consultation and the first EMDR session is free. You have nothing to lose but the beliefs that hold you back from living your best life. Come on, what are you waiting for?