Tuesday, February 1, 2011

EMDR works/sharing the same therapist

I apologize in advance for the typos I will most likely make and not have time to correct, and any poorly constructed sentences/paragraphs. I really don't have time for this, but I think it's important to share, especially with others who may have similar problems in their personal lives/marriages, etc. So here goes:

EMDR is working. I don't really know how to explain it, I just know that situations that in the past would have been seriously emotionally upsetting are now only mildly upsetting. I also know that I no longer stifle my self as much as I used to, or maybe what I mean is that when I do, it's my conscience freely chosen decision and not something I feel I *should* or *must* do, if that makes sense. Also, when things are going poorly, as in the conversation with my father-in-law on his last visit, setting boundaries like "you can't talk to me that way" comes out of my head without emotion and there is no guilt or shame either. It's so matter of face, logical, reasonable- and I am loving this new way of being. I love it ESPECIALLY because it's automatic and am not coaching myself into it. Too cool.

The thing is, I am only in stage four (of lots of stages, either eight or sixteen, I forget) and all I have read says that if you cut therapy short and skip the end stages, you can lose the progress you have made. So I definitely don't want to cut it short.

Why would I even be considering this as a possibility, you might ask. Good question. Before I answer, I have to tell everyone that EMDR is working so well that the incident I am about to describe to you, while it once would have been extremely traumatic, was only mildly upsetting. I am quite positive the other person is way more bothered than I was at the time and that I was quite able to put it aside and get on with my life within oh, say, a half-hour. I am thinking not so much with the other person. Weird and wonderful both. Lolz.

So, a little background first. You know my husband went to Life Skills 26-week program through a local church. At Life Skills (by Paul Hegstrom, reformed philanderer, woman beater, and former preacher- hisstory is amazing and full of hope for all seriously messed-up misogynist Christian men, of which there are too many in the closet) my husband learned to take time-outs when he felt the tension rising, or when I called a time-out. After Life Skills, things were not all fixed, so he agreed to go to counseling with a man claiming to be skilled in domestic violence, among other areas.

Big mistake. Most people only think they understand domestic violence and domestic abuse. Anyway, the next time my husband was seriously in his reptile-brain, and I refused to let him back in the house until he called his counselor, the counselor was no help at all. He couldn't believe that such a nice guy as my husband could be at fault, and suggested I come into to see him too.

Now thank God my husband really wants to be healed. If he just wanted to evade responsibility for his own emotions and actions, this counselor was going to enable that. That could have been the beginning of divorce proceedings right then, but my husband was not wanting someone to be on "his side", he wanted to stop hurting his wife- emotionally, mentally, verbally as well as physically. So he fired the therapist.

We went and bought a twelve dollar book, titled (I think) How to Stop Hurting the Woman You Love. (I will edit this later, to add author and correct title if my memory is wrong.) The first chapter was awesome, gave us all we needed to know to successfully implement the time-out procedure, and it has been a great tool for us ever since.

It's a sports analogy, meaning stop the interaction ( the game) and take some time to go check with your coach/playbook. For my husband, this means prayer, journaling and going through his Life Skills paperwork. Life Skills recommends in thirty minute increments until peace and love are a possibility in the husband/wife relationship.

So, with the final pieces of the puzzle from the book, we wrote out a contract. Either of us can call a time-out at any time, the other agrees to honor it, we check the clock and agree to come back together in exactly thirty minutes. (PAPDs intentionally drag their feet to frustrate the other into anger, so this is an important point! Also, making sure the other knows you intend resolution, and are not abandoning them, is very important.) We even stipulated procedures for if the first thirty minutes wasn't enough, but we haven't had to put those into practice.

Okay, those of you following this blog know that we see the same therapist, but for EMDR, not marriage/relationship therapy. IT IS ALWAYS A BAD IDEA TO SEE THE SAME THERAPIST FOR MARRIAGE THERAPY IN A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SITUATION. That is my opinion, but you can verify that I am not the only one who has come to that conclusion. Therapists just cannot seem to get their head around the fact that the formerly victimized spouse needs to be in complete control of whether or not a situation is turning abusive. Your former abuser should be readily willing to cede that decision to the formerly abused spouse in perpetuity. As my husband says, "If I am in my reptile brain, why would you ask me to decide if I am being abusive or not? That's guaranteed to end badly. If I could tell I was slipping away on my own, I wouldn't be there. I need a friend to point out to me that I'm drifting to a bad place. That's just stupid, to ask me what I think about it if I am already showing signs of PAPD."

The first weird incidence with this therapist, where she made assumptions about our relationship and insisted on "advising" me about it, can be found here. It happened again last week.

The cool thing is how little it affected me. She bristled at the use of the term "time-out". I think instead of a sports analogy she imagines me shaming my husband by making him sit in the corner with his face to a wall? Not sure why that phrase got her going, but whatevs. Get going she did. She told me that instead of telling him he needed to take a time-out, I should ask him if maybe he thinks (feels?) he might need to consider if he thinks he needs to call a time-out.

Uh,no. If I am not free to call a time-out when I feel threatened in any way, then I am not safe. And if I am not safe, then I am not staying in the relationship. No, no, no, no, no, NO!

My adamant rejection of her advice was not angry, loud, or socially unacceptable. It was firm and direct though. This she could not handle at all.

It was extremely strange. I had to sit there with my lips pressed together, as anytime I tried to get a word in edgewise I was "talking over her". She basically wanted me to serve as my husband's therapist, helping him to reach a place of self-awareness. Uh, no. My goal is personal safety, not helping my husband evolve as a person. That's why he's in therapy, and beyond that the Holy Spirit and the counsel of those who have gone before (Life Skills) are there to assist him. That's what a time-out IS, for heaven's sake. I am NOT responsible for his emotional state. Those days are over forever.

The strangest thing of all was that what started this was the comment that things were going so well! As close as I can remember, my exact words were,"IF I have to correct him or tell him that he needs a time-out, he is not offended at all!" Seriously, that's the main reason my blogis so quiet and boring: we are living together in happiness. Peace, love, and affection characterize our relationship these days. It's wonderful!

Well, she totally tripped. I let her have her say, which took what seemed forever, as she kept adding and adding to her long litany of counsel. I wasn't allowed to talk. When it seemed like she was through, I asked if I could talk and she said "Not yet. I want you to answer this question, yes or no. Are you willing to consider my advice? Yes or no. Yes, or No?"

Uh, I'm pretty sure I know what the "right" answer is, duh. So I answered "yes" all the while thinking if I can't redirect off of this relationship and back on to EMDR, this is just a waste of my time today. Once I was allowed to talk, I told her that I didn't appreciate her treating me like a child, but I would set that aside to get to this other issue. I told her that she was making assumptions about our relationship without asking any questions, and that no I did not agree that my husband needed to be "in charge" of deciding when things were heading in a bad direction, and...all the time I spoke she was writing furiously, making faces and the sort of noises my grandma used to make when she was displeased. Huffy, I think is the word that fits.

So I looked at her and said, "You know, this is not working for me. This is not helping me at all. I think it's time for me to go".

Just like that. Calmly, rationally. I am so proud of myself. I gathered my things while she called on me to "wait, wait" but I knew I just needed to leave, so I did as politely as I could. I had already listened politely and been so calm the whole time.

As I was leaving I smiled at the receptionist and said some sort of goodbye. I know I was pleasant and kind. I was not angry at anyone, I was just matter-of-factly getting out of a non-productive social situation. Yay me.

The therapist came out and got between me and the exit. She said, "I was going to tell you there is no charge for today, but I guess you don't want to hear that!" Calmly, I replied,"No, not now, now is not the best time for that. And you are between me and the door." As I said this last sentence, she moved while I was talking and answered,"No I'm not."

And so I walked out the door. That was this past Tuesday, a week ago today. I called Ted in the parking lot and told him. Later that day the receptionist called to see if I wanted to keep coming and tell me, once I said yes, that my next visit was no charge.

And before you all freak out on me for going back, I want you to consider this: EMDR is a scientific technique. It works. If I were to switch therapists, I would have to go through weeks of intake again. Or, conversely, have my records transferred, which would include her no doubt the notes she scribbled furiously during our last visit. Legally I have the right to read those note and write a rebuttal which will also be included, but I just don't really want to go through all that, on either count.

EMDR is not like other therapies. I don't need her empathy or her counsel, only her training as an EMDR clinician. Sort of like a dentist, or an optometrist. It's a technique she is skilled in working, and switching EMDR clinicians now would be a hardship on me, not her. I am not going to let her emotional issues take EMDR away from me.

So I'm going to give it one more try. It may not work. She may not be able to act as a therapist since she made such an ass of herself last visit. I guarantee my husband is not impressed with her outburst and meddling. Thank God for that maturity on his part. He saw her yesterday and just will not discuss his current life situation with her. She asked how things were going and he just answered, "fine" and "let's get started".

I am going to try to implement his strategy from now on. The thing is: EMDR WORKS! We are the happiest we have ever been. Recent house-guests said we were like newlyweds. The last trouble we had was when my husband tried going off antidepressants around Christmas. Life is good for us now, and I credit EMDR with that. My husband is eating healthy and working out. I am freed up emotionally to go back to school and do things for me. Life is good. I don't want to quit EMDR before I've made it all the way through.

Oh, and the other reason I hardly blog is that "All I do is (study)! All day, every day." hee hee Put the word study in the appropriate place in this hilarious video, and that's my life now.

Peace and good will, SS

ps The video link below is poking fun at stoners. Warning for the sensitive among us: It contains the f-word and other cuss words. Since all I do is study, every day-all day, all I do is study, this video cracks me up. Don't watch if you don't have a healthy sense of humor.


  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay_pTE7vwJY

    Here's the video. =D

  2. You know that I've said I think this therapist is a piece of work (kinda right up there with hubby's psychiatrist). She sooo can't respect boundaries and, even worse, is abusively condescending and patronizing when she oversteps her place. As someone who was trained in and works with therapeutic relationships, these people you write about really piss me off. They make everyone in professional therapeutic relationships look bad!

    On the other hand, I really do get that you don't want to have to start all over again with a new EMDR coach. Why start over when what you have hired her for really is working, and working brilliantly?

    What it makes me think of, though, is that it is a metaphor for your relationship with husband: you really wanted to maintain the relationship with him because what you wanted from the relationship (love, companionship, partnership) still existed in between abusive episodes. But the abuse took over and jeopardized your life so that there was no possibility of enjoying the benefits for which you contracted the relationship with him.

    Similarly, the therapist is not holding to the original contract (as with the hubs, he didn't respect you as a person worth not hurting and hurting violently, definitely not part of the "love your wife" contract) that may or may not have been specified but was totally the foundation of the therapeutic relationship. Her relationship with you was contracted to be limited to EMDR and that's all. It is out of line, given the fact that she is also in professional relationship with hubby, for her to make ANY comment EVER about what comes up in the work.

    In keeping with the marriage metaphor, you could only drag your marriage back to the original contract agreements (love, honor, cherish) by being willing to walk away from the contract/marriage altogether. Because you were both desirous of returning to the original intention of the relationship, you were able to renegotiate the contract very specifically. So it sounds like you need to do the same thing with this therapist: remind her of the original contract (EMDR and EMDR only, no talk therapy, no advice, no "don't you think...") and tell her you want to continue the relationship under the original terms but that if she cannot do that, you are willing to walk away.

    If you continue to accept her abusive behavior (even if the episodes don't affect you abusively) as the part of the price for the EMDR, eventually it will get in the way of the progress you are making. The only power you have, ultimately, is the power to walk away. She almost certainly doesn't want to lose you as a client anymore than you want to leave her as a therapist so that capacity to walk away is very powerful.

    So, very long comment (am I ever short and sweet?)... I commend both your husband and you for holding her to her contracted relationship with each of you. And, even more, for all the HARD work you have both put into healing your marriage. I am so very very glad that you have both regained that balance of power that allows the real marriage of love, honor, respect, fun, and laughing to flourish.

    Much love and prayers to you both.

  3. Thanks, Sandra. I totally agree. I am mulling over how to handle it, as I won't see her until next week. Would a written statement, that "I am contracting for EMDR therapy only and all other counsel is unwelcome" suffice? Do you think I really need to go to the effort of asking to see my records and writing a rebuttal if necessary? I was thinking that would only need to happen if I do decide to terminate therapy with her. What is your opinion as a professional?

  4. Good for you for sticking to your boundaries so calmly! I don't think it's a bad idea to try again and see if she can do just what she is supposed to, but if you do decide to switch at least she will have learned something also. It's nice that you guys are so happy and boring now :D


  5. I think clients should always know what is in their records. When I used to go to doctors, I would routinely pull my file out of the pocket on the door and read through it while waiting on the doctor's convenience. It is harder to do with practitioners who don't leave their records laying around!

    For my clients, I take notes and then write up a session report that summarizes what we talked about, my conclusions and recommendations. If someone really wanted to see the notes, I am not above sending out a copy of them. (I actually did once, by accident, attaching the notes instead of the report to the email.)

    Knowing that such accidents happen, or that there is always a chance that my notes can become part of the public record in the unfortunate event of a court case (knocking on wood), I take my notes assuming that they will quite possibly be read by the client.

    In your situation, I would only demand copies of the record at the termination of therapy--whatever the reason for termination, even it is the complete and healthy resolution of all your issues. How she relates to you directly is more important therapeutically than whatever she might have written down. But when you are done with the relationship, you should have the records just for your own health documentation, just as you should have a copy of all your records.

    There is a limitation, though, on what she HAS to give out--either to you or to another professional or even the court (if it came to that)--not everything she writes up is fair game legally.

    Don't know if that was helpful.