Desperately need help/encouragement "buying into" EMDR

goosegoose

Learning
Apologies if this has been discussed before

I've been trying to engage in DBT for the last 6 ish months, with "little to no progress" as my T just said today. I partly disagree, because I've really been practicing taking full breaths through out the day, I haven't self harmed at all, and I've even noticed that when I rub my tongue over my teeth - I'm about to split (borderline) and I've even been working on stopping that behavior all together with good progress. I do all my homework like a good noodle but I really struggle to share it with her in session.

Regardless, my T doesn't see much improvement and is questioning her ethical obligations. I've been trying to explain to her that I take a ridiculous amount of time to open up, move forward, etc, but she's really wanting me to consider EMDR. I sarcastically said "what, and then come back to you in 5 years?" and she made it clear that she thought it would take way less time than that for me which is...just not factual in any facet of my life. And that was kind of discouraging to hear from her, too? Like, she doesn't get how I would literally be dragging myself back into the pits of hell, with no end in sight. And then what if she's not even a T by the time I'm through enough EMDR to try DBT with her again? Or her schedule is too full to take me back? That in itself would be hurtful, too, like failing before I even had a chance.

This is where help is needed - if I'm gonna consider EMDR, she said I need to "buy into it" for it to work in the first place. I'm so skeptical. I also don't understand what to do during the "Free Association" phase. I totally understand what it is in theory, but when I try to emulate that myself I feel like a fish out of water. Like I'm just sitting there looking around the room like "um...am I supposed to be feeling or thinking things right now?" It's like my mind and body is just blank with a little fly buzzing around.

I've also tried it with a previous T and we never got anywhere. I'm pretty sure it was because I was in crisis everytime we tried, but it's really painted EMDR in a bad light for me.

Another fear would be how bad it could potentially get, as I'm really not good at coping/grounding. I really struggle to even practice it, and even more difficult for it to stick long term. I'm not confident in myself at all.

I don't want to leave this current T because I know we would be a good match if I could let my f*cking defenses down. But at the same time, like she said, "if it's this raw all the time, DBT will get us nowhere." She also keeps reminding me that this therapy is about me, for me, etc. and that's such a difficult concept for me to grasp, that I matter in any way enough to be cared for emotionally. I'm pretty sure it stems from being abused for child labor/extreme neglect/ etc etc etc.

I'm just really frustrated and at my limit and I've hit a brick wall that feels like it's reinforced by like a mile of steel rebar. I'm not meeting her again until March 1st, so I have more time to toss the idea around. I'm really really really trying to be emotionally flexible. I want to explore any avenue possible if it means relief, I'm tired of being so stagnant but I'm also so terrified.

Thanks in advance 🦆
 

goosegoose

Learning
Forgot to write in my post that I've been so stressed out about this the past week, I've been breaking out in hives all over my body and my eczema has been back too. I've been doing deep breathing, I even meditated a few times and took OTC anti-anxieties (2000 mg of passionflower, per dose, twice a day, helps noticeably) and I'm still covered in hives.
 

Wendell_R

MyPTSD Pro
Hi, @goosegoose . I'm sorry that you've had a rough time. There's a lot going on here, a lot more than "Will EMDR work for me?"

I think your fear of losing your therapist is very real and valid. Have you tried writing down your thoughts, and then bringing those writings into session? That can help us express things that we think or feel when our PTSD brains want to shut down.

Yes, you do need to buy into EMDR, but I think the basis for that is establishing trust with the therapist(s) involved more than it is a rational judgement about EMDR. EMDR has been very useful for me, but initially the process brought up a lot of terror. We went very slowly and paid attention to my experiences. A lot of the initial work was learning coping/grounding techniques. We also did EMDR in a resource mode, where we reinforced safe people and safe places. Diving into dealing with trauma wouldn't have worked for me. What helped me a lot was having an EMDR therapist who was very flexible and did not have a fixed schedule of how EMDR was supposed to proceed. We also do sessions that are not EMDR where we deal with the trauma stuff that got shaken loose by the EMDR.

If you decide to proceed with EMDR, maybe a good place to start would be to bring a copy of your post in with you to one of your early sessions. Good luck!
 

BIgLittle

Confident
Hi,

Sorry for the storm you're going through. And it is very understandable that you have doubts about EMDR, but it's very good that you have questions about it. One might say that you're leaning into it babysteps wise. Before you do the actual EMDR there is a stabilisation periode of sessions where, with a good Trauma Psychologist, you ease into the Trauma Therapy and eventually the EMDR. The first sessions will always be about installing a safe place and a container of your choice and making to put away some stuff that you don't wanna deal with at the moment, but maybe later. A good, experienced Trauma Psychologist will customize your trajectory and process to you in open dialogue with you. The water might get a little choppy and your boat might rock a litte but rest assure that your Trauma Psychologist / EMDR specialist is your compass and anchor, who is always by your side. Yes, it's better that you buy into it, that is true. I just started a few months ago and just last week we did my actual first EMDR session, where befor my Trauma Psychologist asked me numerous times if I am sure I wanted to start. And we only started when I said:"Yes, let's do this. I am all in." I wish you good luck and I wish you all the best.
 

Autumnsirens

New Here
I'm sorry your therapist isn't recognizing the progress you see in yourself. That must feel really invalidating.

I know you're looking for buy-in on EMDR, which you absolutely need in order for it to work.
I think I have two questions, though:
1. Is forcing yourself to buy-in to a therapy to satisfy your therapist the right choice for you?
2. If you aren't making the typical progress in DBT (regardless of the reason), is it possible that DBT isn't what you need right now?

I'm not expecting you to answer publicly, those are just the questions I'd ask myself or a friend in a similar situation. ;blank;
 

Friday

Moderator
This is where help is needed - if I'm gonna consider EMDR, she said I need to "buy into it" for it to work in the first place.
Funny… I’ve never heard one must buy into / hold any beliefs whatsoever about EMDR for it to work. I’ve always been taught it’s a function of biology/neurology… that the multi-focal stimulation (whether a walk in the woods, or using devices to sit comfy indoors) allows memories to be restored in the parts of the brain reserved for memories, rather than active-engagement.

Which is part of why EMDR used to be dangerous in the early days… decades ago… before the severity of the -often delayed, and cascading- reaction was understood and accounted for.

Which isn’t to say I’m not wrong. I’m not certified in EMDR, much less the advanced levels required to treat complex trauma. It’s simply that everything I’ve ever been taught in school, or read on the subject, is that it’s a function of neurology rather than belief.
 

goosegoose

Learning
Hi, @goosegoose . I'm sorry that you've had a rough time. There's a lot going on here, a lot more than "Will EMDR work for me?"

I think your fear of losing your therapist is very real and valid. Have you tried writing down your thoughts, and then bringing those writings into session? That can help us express things that we think or feel when our PTSD brains want to shut down.

Yes, you do need to buy into EMDR, but I think the basis for that is establishing trust with the therapist(s) involved more than it is a rational judgement about EMDR. EMDR has been very useful for me, but initially the process brought up a lot of terror. We went very slowly and paid attention to my experiences. A lot of the initial work was learning coping/grounding techniques. We also did EMDR in a resource mode, where we reinforced safe people and safe places. Diving into dealing with trauma wouldn't have worked for me. What helped me a lot was having an EMDR therapist who was very flexible and did not have a fixed schedule of how EMDR was supposed to proceed. We also do sessions that are not EMDR where we deal with the trauma stuff that got shaken loose by the EMDR.

If you decide to proceed with EMDR, maybe a good place to start would be to bring a copy of your post in with you to one of your early sessions. Good luck!
Hey, thanks for responding. There's definitely a lot going on, all internally. The response I usually get from people IRL is "soo that was a lot" lol.

I've tried writing things down to share in session but because we're telehealth only, I can't really share papers or things I've written out and she has a strict rule against emailing her things like that (learned the hard way). I really struggle to verbalize anything in session because I can't give her anything written, so I know I haven't done a good job at all of explaining why I want to continue working with her. I get the sense that she's thinking I'm only staying with her because I'm attached, which, I mean yeah f*ck yeah I'm attached, but that's not why I'm struggling or having a hard time considering EMDR. I made a tiny amount of progress in verbalizing some things I had written out the week before, so maybe that's hopeful?

That makes a lot of sense about needing to trust the therapist(s) involved more than a logical thought process. It would not be my current therapist who would be administering the EMDR, which I think would actually take some of the fear away because I know how I feel about her. My current therapist wants me to meet someone new for the EMDR, which...oof. I do not trust easily or quickly. I still don't trust my current therapist and it's been almost a year. I'm also really worried about it because I've never been able to establish a Safe Space for myself in the 5 years I've been in and out of therapy. I'll find a Safe Space and then it'll immediately get invaded by massive alarm bells signaling danger. Or I'll have a horrific intrusive image while in the Safe Space and it's no longer Safe at all. How would we proceed with EMDR if I don't have access to any Safe Spaces?

Thank you so much for the luck, I really feel like I need it right now. I have no idea where the universe is taking me or why, and I'm trying not to fight it.

Hi,

Sorry for the storm you're going through. And it is very understandable that you have doubts about EMDR, but it's very good that you have questions about it. One might say that you're leaning into it babysteps wise. Before you do the actual EMDR there is a stabilisation periode of sessions where, with a good Trauma Psychologist, you ease into the Trauma Therapy and eventually the EMDR. The first sessions will always be about installing a safe place and a container of your choice and making to put away some stuff that you don't wanna deal with at the moment, but maybe later. A good, experienced Trauma Psychologist will customize your trajectory and process to you in open dialogue with you. The water might get a little choppy and your boat might rock a litte but rest assure that your Trauma Psychologist / EMDR specialist is your compass and anchor, who is always by your side. Yes, it's better that you buy into it, that is true. I just started a few months ago and just last week we did my actual first EMDR session, where befor my Trauma Psychologist asked me numerous times if I am sure I wanted to start. And we only started when I said:"Yes, let's do this. I am all in." I wish you good luck and I wish you all the best.
Hey, thanks for replying!

I think it's interesting that you used "babysteps" to describe what I'm doing because I've been trying to explain to my current therapist that I'm majorly a "babysteps" person and I felt like she was trying to get me to do "big full steps." What would be done if I can't conjure up a Safe Space? I've never been able to do so, even while meditating. I wrote about it a little bit in my response to Wendell_R. I'm also worried because I've never felt like I could rely on or trust my therapists, what would happen if I can't trust this new therapist? My trust issues are so severe, I don't think I've ever truly let anyone in, even my SO.

How did you finally get to the point of like, "hell yes let's do this"? I don't want to be that person who constantly asks for help and then denies everything offered to them, so I'm really trying to stay open minded about this but I'm really worried I'll step in my own way too much for it to get anywhere.

I'm sorry your therapist isn't recognizing the progress you see in yourself. That must feel really invalidating.

I know you're looking for buy-in on EMDR, which you absolutely need in order for it to work.
I think I have two questions, though:
1. Is forcing yourself to buy-in to a therapy to satisfy your therapist the right choice for you?
2. If you aren't making the typical progress in DBT (regardless of the reason), is it possible that DBT isn't what you need right now?

I'm not expecting you to answer publicly, those are just the questions I'd ask myself or a friend in a similar situation. ;blank;
You got me teared up with your first sentence, thank you so so much for saying something. It's been so ridiculously hard to redirect the self harm or to make myself take a full breath and it really sucks when it doesn't feel acknowledged. Full breath meaning, I'm actively making an effort not to hold my breath all day. And it's so difficult. Neither my therapist or I brought those two things up but I think the next time we have a session together I need to stand up for myself and bring it up because I know I've really been doing a good effort with it.

I really appreciate your questions, too. My homework the next couple of weeks was to think about the questions, "What do I want from counseling?" "What has worked and what has not worked for me in counseling?" so I'm gonna add your two questions to the mix of questions I need to reflect on. And if you're wondering, no, I have absolutely no idea what any of the answers are lol. I'm so stressed.

Funny… I’ve never heard one must buy into / hold any beliefs whatsoever about EMDR for it to work. I’ve always been taught it’s a function of biology/neurology… that the multi-focal stimulation (whether a walk in the woods, or using devices to sit comfy indoors) allows memories to be restored in the parts of the brain reserved for memories, rather than active-engagement.

Which is part of why EMDR used to be dangerous in the early days… decades ago… before the severity of the -often delayed, and cascading- reaction was understood and accounted for.

Which isn’t to say I’m not wrong. I’m not certified in EMDR, much less the advanced levels required to treat complex trauma. It’s simply that everything I’ve ever been taught in school, or read on the subject, is that it’s a function of neurology rather than belief.
That's really interesting, thanks for adding your thoughts. I guess I've only read/heard about it from people who talk about needing to have faith for things in order for them to be effective? Like, if I go into EMDR thinking "this isn't gonna work," I'm being told that it won't work so it's not gonna work type of thing. It kind of helps to hear that I would probably not effect my treatment with my opinions towards it, but I still have all my same reservations about it.

Do you have any idea how it could work with a patient who has severe repressed memories? I understand you don't technically have to have the mental memory of it, the physical memory could be enough. But what if you don't have either? What if you truly feel nothing in session but know there's a sea of Hellish repressed memories untouched? I would get to the Free Association phase and that's where I would get totally lost and feel like I was doing it wrong. I would inadvertently get taken out of it each time and we could never properly finish even one EMDR session.
 

Autumnsirens

New Here
Funny… I’ve never heard one must buy into / hold any beliefs whatsoever about EMDR for it to work. I’ve always been taught it’s a function of biology/neurology… that the multi-focal stimulation (whether a walk in the woods, or using devices to sit comfy indoors) allows memories to be restored in the parts of the brain reserved for memories, rather than active-engagement.

Which is part of why EMDR used to be dangerous in the early days… decades ago… before the severity of the -often delayed, and cascading- reaction was understood and accounted for.

Which isn’t to say I’m not wrong. I’m not certified in EMDR, much less the advanced levels required to treat complex trauma. It’s simply that everything I’ve ever been taught in school, or read on the subject, is that it’s a function of neurology rather than belief.
Buy-in doesn't really have anyting to do with the biological functions involved in EMDR.

If you go into any kind of therapy believing *it'll never work,* not just with some skepticism, you're gonna resist trusting the therapist, try to poke holes in any progress you might actually make, and possibly end up feeling worse, ya know?

You got me teared up with your first sentence, thank you so so much for saying something. It's been so ridiculously hard to redirect the self harm or to make myself take a full breath and it really sucks when it doesn't feel acknowledged. Full breath meaning, I'm actively making an effort not to hold my breath all day. And it's so difficult. Neither my therapist or I brought those two things up but I think the next time we have a session together I need to stand up for myself and bring it up because I know I've really been doing a good effort with it.

I really appreciate your questions, too. My homework the next couple of weeks was to think about the questions, "What do I want from counseling?" "What has worked and what has not worked for me in counseling?" so I'm gonna add your two questions to the mix of questions I need to reflect on. And if you're wondering, no, I have absolutely no idea what any of the answers are lol. I'm so stressed.
@goosegoose I read that you aren't allowed to email her things. Would you be comfortable reading something to her that you wrote ahead of time? Not necessarily whole scripts, but just individual thoughts/sentences.

I do that all the time with my therapist because my brain will stall out on words that I can easily find when I'm just driving in the car or trying to focus at work. 😆
 

Wendell_R

MyPTSD Pro
I'll find a Safe Space and then it'll immediately get invaded by massive alarm bells signaling danger. Or I'll have a horrific intrusive image while in the Safe Space and it's no longer Safe at all.
For years (over a decade), whenever I tried to make a safe space, the terrors would come right through the walls. So I know exactly how you feel! Maybe it's hopeful for you to know that now I do have treasured safe spaces, and that it's possible to get there even with the experiences you have had in the past.

@goosegoose I read that you aren't allowed to email her things. Would you be comfortable reading something to her that you wrote ahead of time? Not necessarily whole scripts, but just individual thoughts/sentences.
Yes. This ^. Sometimes I write things down on an index card and bring that in.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
we're telehealth only,
that was my tripping point too, telehealth for the unitiated may not be the best way to start.
I did it with a T that incorporated as many senses as we could-Scents, tapping, vagas nerve stimulation, bilateral music and rhythms- with limited results and I was a firm believer in the process (still am). It worked but for other reasons I pulled the plug and have returned to just talk therapy.
One great thing about telehealth was the lack of a drive home, I was already there and could just sit in a comfortable space until I was ready to move on, and that gave us working time right to the closing bell. The wrap up is critical with EMDR. My first exposure was VERY poorly handled and I found myself more than a little bit dazed and confused and in a parking lot waaaay too soon. But it had an effect and after years of sorting through side effects looking for the kernels of good effects, I had my first real GOOD thing easily seen and found amongst the HARD parts.
I encourage you to keep searching for good info on EMDR and also to drop it like a hot rock if it isn't paying dividends. My bet is that it will, but what do I know? Not that much but there are people here that exhibit a great level of understanding about such things and they are happily helping you along I see, good luck to you
 
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