Desperately need help/encouragement "buying into" EMDR

joeylittle

Administrator
@goosegoose - as others have said, you don't need to believe in EMDR for it to work. What your therapist may have been aiming to say is that you need to be willing to go through the process - so, "buy-in" as "I'm going to do my best to stay in the process, not try and keep one foot out and one foot in".

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.
I'd say this is progress. What would happen if you challenged yourself to share more about it, in session?
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.
I hate to be that person, but...how do you know that you can't do this? (This being, open up and move forward at a reasonable pace). What evidence do you have, that this will take you five years or more, to accomplish this?
 

goosegoose

Learning
@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. 😆
I've been trying to write things out lately because my mind has been so jumbled, but I have a trigger around reading things out loud for other people so I can never read verbatim what I've written. But writing things out still helps at least a little!

There's a chat feature when we meet up that she's typed things out for me in, and I'm like "well why can't I type things too!" but I know she's just trying to encourage me to push through

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
Thank you for your response!

About telehealth, I actually prefer it that way right now with pandemic stuff - I'm in a pretty active area and I definitely would not feel safe going in person at all. But my T said that she found an EMDR/DBT therapist that works online, and I haven't seen much about success of EMDR over telehealth?

But I definitely agree about the bonus of already being safe (physically) in your home instead of out in public, potentially dissociating to a different planet. I've actually been working on a Pros and Cons list for pursuing this avenue and I think I'll add "already home" to the Pros side, thank you!

Are you comfortable with me asking what "wrapping up" looked like for you? I assume it's like an end phase of trying to reground yourself? The reason I'm curious is because I'm trying to figure out if my own EMDR experience several years ago was handled poorly or not.

Thank you again for sharing, I'm really trying to absorb all perspectives before I make any moves with this
 

goosegoose

Learning
@goosegoose - as others have said, you don't need to believe in EMDR for it to work. What your therapist may have been aiming to say is that you need to be willing to go through the process - so, "buy-in" as "I'm going to do my best to stay in the process, not try and keep one foot out and one foot in".


I'd say this is progress. What would happen if you challenged yourself to share more about it, in session?

I hate to be that person, but...how do you know that you can't do this? (This being, open up and move forward at a reasonable pace). What evidence do you have, that this will take you five years or more, to accomplish this?
I guess it makes more sense from that perspective, re: not keeping one foot out and one foot in. I definitely don't want to start it unless I'm sure I'm mentally ready because I don't want to half ass anything. But then, even when I'm busting my ass and doing my absolute best, I still feel like I'm not doing enough or I'm doing things wrong and I get really bogged down and stuck in my head and scared to share anything. I'm not sure if that's really relevant to fully engaging in EMDR? I think just overall I'm really confused about what I want out of therapy or what my end goals are specifically. I personally feel okay that I don't know, that I just know I want to heal as an end goal, but therapists usually don't like not having goals from you to work with. I'm really struggling to find any reason besides "I just have to."

About challenging myself to share more about it in session, I'm not sure what would happen. I know I would cry more which makes me freeze hardcore. But in terms of reaction from my T, I'm not sure if she would push more for me switching to a different person for EMDR or if she would be receptive and happy that I was sharing more and that unknown makes me anxious. I really tried to make a point to push through and talk about things I didn't want to during my last session and she thanked me but suggested a two week pause instead of our typical one week, if that makes sense.

If I were to metaphorically describe how I feel when I'm trying to open up, it would be if someone super glued my lips shut. Or if I was walking down a narrow hallway towards a door labelled "Opening Up" but there's a clone of myself standing in my way and shoving me backwards and getting in my face.

Also, please, be that person! It's totally okay. How do I know I can't do this? I guess I don't know. My evidence would only be how severe and consistent my childhood trauma was, and how little faith I have in myself. Also, knowing how slow I take in terms of letting people in, pushing people away, avoiding subjects like a burning hot skillet, etc. Like, not trusting myself to do a good enough or thorough enough job? It's hard to put into words. But even then, I'm still using evidence based on past therapy experiences and maybe not necessarily where I'm currently at. All that rambling to say, I'm not sure if I have any evidence at all.

Another thing that freaks me out is not knowing what kind of reaction I'll get if it does end up working out for me. A couple years ago, I was watching something with my SO and this random scene (that I would normally be fine seeing) sent me into a hysterical panic. I was yelling "no" repeatedly and shaking so badly, crying, hyperventilating, etc. and my partner just held onto me for dear life. I'm really terrified of reactions like that happening again. I have diagnosed, non medicated panic disorder and don't do a good job at grounding myself still.

Sorry for the wall of text! Thank you for replying
 

BIgLittle

Confident
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.
I agree with Friday. It is all neurology and biology. Buying into EMDR does help the process, meaning once you start with it that it is best to keep going even when your whole world feels upside down sometimes.

It is of course all neurology and biology, which is a good thing to work on practical. :)
 

Autumnsirens

New Here
I've been trying to write things out lately because my mind has been so jumbled, but I have a trigger around reading things out loud for other people so I can never read verbatim what I've written. But writing things out still helps at least a little!

There's a chat feature when we meet up that she's typed things out for me in, and I'm like "well why can't I type things too!" but I know she's just trying to encourage me to push through
@goosegoose I personally struggle with therapists who are so rigid as to insist that someone only communicate in their preferred way.
That honestly wouldn't feel safe to me at all.

The reason therapists want us to have a goal in mind is because compulsory self-improvement, the never ending pursuit of being "better," is itself a trauma response.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Been doing EMDR almost two years. All the prep I ever did was reading "The Body Keeps Score" and that was after I started therapy. Even that was bits and pieces because I stopped where he said I should.

I knew very little when I started. I just know that beginning - building a strong box is massively important. Focus on building a very strong box.

Why? Stuff just shows up. No order. It's just there suddenly. Almost always its not what you expected, or when you expected it.

Your commitment to the process and absolute honesty with your T are two of the biggist things you need. EMDR reveals things when the pain of the memory starts going away with reprocessing. That means - whenever.
It would seem that's the tough part but no. Reprocessing is the hard part. When your brain power is divided between daily living, reprocessing, and all the PTSD stuff you live with. What that means is: It's really really difficult to judge where you are on the anxiety scale and its easy to overdo it without doing much at times.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
Are you comfortable with me asking what "wrapping up" looked like for you? I
sure, but it's different for every T I think. Basically some form of compartmentalizing the stuff so it isn't tieing up the conscious thought RAM when you are out on your own. Good luck with that, whenever I had a breakthrough it was pretty much stuck front and center for awhile, with the approval of the experts or not. Not necessarily a bad thing unless the new stuff was a bad thing and it wasn't always.
absolute honesty with your T
Yep.
I could be interested in the new psychoactive drug studies, I understand that with a good therapist in a safe situation where you don't feel threatened and are stripped clean of ego and decorum by the drigs you can be asked important questions and give answers with no holding back, fear, or inclination to glaze over ANYTHING. thats another subject and EMDR isn't like that, but the total honesty with the T is important and admittedly difficult for me even when I set myself up to try to pull it off. It's harder than I think.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
How do I know I can't do this? I guess I don't know. My evidence would only be how severe and consistent my childhood trauma was, and how little faith I have in myself. Also, knowing how slow I take in terms of letting people in, pushing people away, avoiding subjects like a burning hot skillet, etc. Like, not trusting myself to do a good enough or thorough enough job? It's hard to put into words. But even then, I'm still using evidence based on past therapy experiences and maybe not necessarily where I'm currently at. All that rambling to say, I'm not sure if I have any evidence at all.
This is a good answer. And I'd encourage you to remind yourself of this, often.

And food for thought - Every time you tell yourself that you are slow to let people in, that you're highly avoidant of trauma-related topics, etc. - you are making it just a little stronger. When you counter those automatic thoughts with something more balanced, even an additive statement - like, "I have always been slow to let people in, and I'm working on changing that" - you'll be helping yourself shrink those thoughts.

There are a number of threads on this board about trust in therapy, and you'll see a lot of different viewpoints. I'm in the general camp of: I don't have an idea of what it would mean to trust my therapist as a person, or to let them in. I DO know that I trust his skill level and overall ability to work with me. And, I know I don't want how it is now (how I relate to the unresolved aspects of my trauma) to be how it is forever. That's generally the thing that keeps me going back.
 

goosegoose

Learning
@goosegoose I personally struggle with therapists who are so rigid as to insist that someone only communicate in their preferred way.
That honestly wouldn't feel safe to me at all.

The reason therapists want us to have a goal in mind is because compulsory self-improvement, the never ending pursuit of being "better," is itself a trauma response.
Yikes, I had no idea that was a trauma response. Do you remember where you read or heard about it? I'm curious to read more. Also, definitely, it does make me feel less safe. I'm gonna try to broach the subject of wanting to somehow meet in the middle, maybe I could ask if I could share google docs with her? Just kind of brainstorming out loud, no need to respond if you don't want to!

Been doing EMDR almost two years. All the prep I ever did was reading "The Body Keeps Score" and that was after I started therapy. Even that was bits and pieces because I stopped where he said I should.

I knew very little when I started. I just know that beginning - building a strong box is massively important. Focus on building a very strong box.

Why? Stuff just shows up. No order. It's just there suddenly. Almost always its not what you expected, or when you expected it.

Your commitment to the process and absolute honesty with your T are two of the biggist things you need. EMDR reveals things when the pain of the memory starts going away with reprocessing. That means - whenever.
It would seem that's the tough part but no. Reprocessing is the hard part. When your brain power is divided between daily living, reprocessing, and all the PTSD stuff you live with. What that means is: It's really really difficult to judge where you are on the anxiety scale and its easy to overdo it without doing much at times.
Thanks for replying!

Yeah see, I think about these kinds of possibilities and it makes me really nervous. Creating containers or boxes and creating safe spaces has always been so beyond difficult for me. I'll establish something in session and it'll feel like "meh, I guess that's fine" but it's not really Safe safe. And then something happens and it's totally Unsafe and the container I set up falls apart or spills over immediately. I tried reading The Body Keeps Score and I got only two pages into the introduction before the first chapter and I had to put it down permanently. I'm so impressed that you got through it, it was so triggering for me.

I feel like if I started the process, I would be committed to trying to see it through to the end. But about being absolutely honest with my T, that's an issue too. Either I shut down and dissociate or I don't trust the T enough, even after years of working with them.

I'm in a super good place in my life with my home life, in that I can afford to stay home all the time if I need/want to, have a super supportive SO, I'm living in a slower area with not so many people, and my apartment complex is for the most part super quiet. So I feel like I really need to take advantage of this calm in my life, but I'm just still so unsure. Should I give in to my current T's request that I meet with an EMDR person just to see what the vibe is like? I don't want to people please but I also don't want to be inflexible :/
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Yeah see, I think about these kinds of possibilities and it makes me really nervous.
Don't be. As much as it takes out of you in therapy - it gives back in function and ability and lowered anxiety. Then there's the nightmares that went away at the same time.

A year ago a post like this would have taken hours to write, and correct, and rewrite so it said what I wanted.
Now....bang it out on the keyboard like year ago me thought I was doing.
 

BIgLittle

Confident
Been doing EMDR almost two years. All the prep I ever did was reading "The Body Keeps Score" and that was after I started therapy. Even that was bits and pieces because I stopped where he said I should.

I knew very little when I started. I just know that beginning - building a strong box is massively important. Focus on building a very strong box.

Why? Stuff just shows up. No order. It's just there suddenly. Almost always its not what you expected, or when you expected it.

Your commitment to the process and absolute honesty with your T are two of the biggist things you need. EMDR reveals things when the pain of the memory starts going away with reprocessing. That means - whenever.
It would seem that's the tough part but no. Reprocessing is the hard part. When your brain power is divided between daily living, reprocessing, and all the PTSD stuff you live with. What that means is: It's really really difficult to judge where you are on the anxiety scale and its easy to overdo it without doing much at times.
Going through that right now and it is challenging and also healing at the same time. It untangles much of my current behaviour with the original reason/trauma why I started doing it in the first place. Babysteps and like a turtle, but seeing and most importantly feeling progress.

Thanks for all this feedback, because it helps me putting in the work.
 
S

shades

I get it, emdr is scary, I know everyone here can run a talk therapy session on their own. I wish i could have had emdr at 20 instead of 57. At 20 I was told to pack that trauma away and move on. My mother's illness and death triggered more than I bargained for. I reached a point that the trauma was too much for me to handle alone. I looked for someone who specializes in trauma. Complex PTSD - 20 years of physical abuse and neglect, 57 years of emotional and mental abuse. I jumped in both feet, I did take a couple of months to feel safe. It is hard, really hard, but I can drop something and not feel as if I'm stupid and worthless. I am no longer a victim. It usually takes me 2-3 days after an emdr session to fully process, rest, and recover. I have a ways to go- but I want to feel better and I can feel and see the changes in the way I handle triggers. I don't think of it as buying in but it does take work, support, and commitment. Good luck fellow survivors.
 
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