EMDR, parts or not?


During my original emdr sessions, parts appeared. Not so much actual parts, maybe? I would just disassociate a bunch, live in different realities. I would speak to my therapist in plural, cope by separating my trauma self from my current self. She would ask me what age my emotions were connected to. I had established an inner world. I can still go in there. When conflict arises with my therapist, it’s like a group discussion in my head. My T would tell me to remember that the adult part needs to be in charge. It seems as though when I am triggered or working on a new target that has a suds of 8-10 a part or the group appears. The rest of the time, I’m quite normal—with exception to the youngest ones showing up from time to time. So, knowing this stuff is on a spectrum, I’m curious if therapists can somehow increase our separation or consolidation in the process of therapy. Years ago, my therapist spoke to me about my parts as though they are real, but now it’s like she is speaking to one complete me. When she asks about ages it’s about feelings from the past—not parts living in current day. Part of me misses feeling separate and my T validating it. However, now that I feel more as one, I wonder if she was originally doing something that kept me separate, then realized how real it seemed to me vs a figurative processing of the past and changed the treatment plan so that I wouldn’t separate further into a lack of reality. Has anyone else experienced this? Or is this just my brains creative way of processing stuff?


However, now that I feel more as one, I wonder if she was originally doing something that kept me separate, then realized how real it seemed to me vs a figurative processing of the past and changed the treatment plan so that I wouldn’t separate further into a lack of reality.
Without knowing her specifically there’s no way I can speak to what she may or may not have done; speaking generally, however, that’s VERY MUCH a thing.

Parts work, when dealing with PTSD, is fundamentally Avoidance. Which makes it tricky to work with, as you’re right... it’s NOT a figurative way of looking at things, or a conceptualisation, but a full-on symptom born out of the need to survive and stay sane, that can manifest in myriad ways. One of the most common ways I talked about elsewhere below...

I know a helluva lot of people who didn’t break. More like they origami’d... folding the parts of themselves that they can’t deal with, right now, away. Until they almost become 2 dimensional representations of themselves. These are the people I see IFS work great for IF...
  • A good therapist? Is able to help unfold those pieces. Reintroducing the shape and structure of those pieces to the whole, giving them their proper place, (not folded away, sometimes under layers and layers of folds until they’re invisible and not just out of the way but completely obscured or forgotten). And voila! (Long process made short ;)) A 3 dimsenional self starts emerging.
  • A shit therapist? (IMO) hands over the scissors and has their client start cutting along the folds :banghead: creating broken pieces, fragmented selves, artificial separation. (For a few different reasons, ranging from laziness, to wanting a sexy client, to well intentioned idiot; assessing the problem wrongly and creating far more problems).

...which would put her, in my experience, in the land of good therapists. Because rather than handing you a pair of scissors and creating fractures & fragments & a whole new set of very serious problems on top of everything you’re already dealing with? Having both the ability to work with your Avoidance & Disassociation, where it was at, and also gradually help moving you forward. So you don’t have to distance yourself so completely “it” didn’t happen to you, but it/her/him/them; and so you’re able to feel your own emotions, think your own thoughts, without being so flooded and overwhelmed and needing escape -or distance/deny/avoid- that not only is your past not your own, but your present day thoughts/feelings/actions “aren’t” your own.

IFS & Parts work is hugely useful for a lot of people, in a lot of ways, but it -in the hands of the unethical or well meaning moron- can be hugely damaging. Torture technique, breaking a person away from their own identity in order to better manipulate and control them, damaging.

It works in torture and interrogation because it’s a totally natural human reaction to extreme stress to distance one’s self. Trauma clients have not only already lived through extreme stress, but during trauma therapy are reliving that stress, and tremendously vulnerable to being broken/manipulated & losing parts of themselves, locking them away in parts seperate from themselves; rather than coming together, healing rifts, and getting stronger.

So did she do/encourage the parts of yourself that you’d locked away to come forward / unfolding what was hidden... and then help you become more totally yourself, reintroducing the shape and structure to the whole; rather than breaking you at your most vulnerable? No idea. But that IS the goal, when working with severe avoidance and disassociation.
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@Friday thank you for answering me. It really helps put this into perspective. I recently read about “flash emdr” being something used to help highly dissociative clients in the preparation phase of emdr. Traditional emdr had caused me too much stress/disassociation, so we have been doing flash. She tells me that once the stress levels come down, we will move to the traditional emdr. I feel like this is all making more and more sense.