EMDR Therapy: Sessions 2,3&4
Hello everyone! I’ve decided to summarise the latest three therapy sessions so that I’m not repeating myself as these have all been in the ‘preparation’ phase of EMDR Therapy.
Over the last few weeks my therapist and I have been focusing on an almost meditative technique which allows your brain to process the feelings you had during and after the trauma.
It begins by focusing on a feeling you had such as fear, pain, confusion or panic. You imagine one of these emotions without thinking about the circumstances of it and choose a colour that best represents it. By focusing on the colour representation and not the actual emotion it prevents the brain from reacting in fight or flight and so makes it easier for the emotion to be processed.
With the colour in mind you then start the breathing exercises. First picturing the colour as teenie tiny particles that you inhale into and then breathe out. You then imagine the colour particles in different parts of your body that you focus on one at a time such as the centre, back, left, right and front of your brain as well as the eyes, chest, arms, stomach, legs and so on, breathing out the colour particles from each body part.
On my first try I did experience sensations of derealisation which made me respond anxiously and so I automatically tried to ground myself. My therapist challenged my thought and reaction process to the derealisation and said “What if you didn’t panic and try to calm yourself? What would happen?”.
The answer, of course, is nothing because I’m not in a situation to be scared of, my brain is just being overly protective. With this new mindset and realisation I was able to do the breathing techniques with no problems and keep reminding myself daily that my brain is over reacting when it shouldn’t.
I have to say that I am usually very sceptical about meditation and breathing techniques and whether there is actually any science behind it. But after my first time doing it I left the appointment with an overwhelming feeling of happiness that I couldn’t explain. My therapist and I have continued to use this technique in preparation for the actual bilateral stimulation, to help me to process and understand the emotions the trauma and PTSD have left behind so they don’t cause me to panic during the stimulation. Ultimately it allows me to move on.
I have also started to practice the technique at home whenever I’m under any emotional strain or experience anxiety or a bad dream. Doing the breathing and picturing the colour of the emotions draining out of your body does give me an instant sense of relief.
I think the main difference with the principles of EMDR Therapy to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy so far is that CBT teaches you how to deal with problems, such as anxiety, as they arise and how to control yourself. However EMDR is quite the opposite. Instead it challenges the problems to show you that nothing bad comes of them, and by processing the emotions it prevents the problems from arising.
If I have derealisation which makes me panicky, CBT teaches me to breathe and ground myself. EMDR teaches me that there is no need to panic as I am not in danger and that the derealisation is not a big deal and will pass.
And it’s not all focusing on negative emotions. In session 4 we started to introduce the bilateral stimulation by thinking about the people in my life that spring to mind when I think of protection (I thought of my dad and my boyfriend, Eugene), of comfort ( I thought of my mum and Eugene again) and people I consider to be wise (I thought of my Aunt Sybille and one of my best friends, Marcie).
Picturing my A team and focusing on those emotions was really amazing and gave me a lump in my throat. A reminder of how blessed I am!
I can genuinely say that I do believe that I am noticing a difference to my daily life already.
In the next few sessions we will be moving on to the bilateral stimulation using either eye movements, sounds or a stimulus in each hand to help process the actual trauma and the effects of PTSD.
I will keep you posted!
If you haven’t already, give me a follow! I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences with these types of techniques too.