Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing EMDR have been widely used for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
EMDR can also be used to dispel any negative beliefs you may have about yourself. The way negative beliefs work is that they are anchored in the body by strong emotions, primarily fear. EMDR Therapy Vancouver reduces the emotion of memory and transforms negative beliefs into positive beliefs.
Children have more contact with their fears than adults. I worked with a 13-year-old boy and used EMDR to desensitize the fear he got from hearing his father yell at him.
The father threatened the child to do his homework by criticizing him, calling him names like “lazy” and “stupid”, until his son began to believe that he was not trying to succeed in school subjects.
My father didn’t realize at first that the name-calling was abusive language. That was the way he was raised and I thought this would help motivate his son. I believe people always do their best given what they know at the time. He has not yet learned how to motivate people effectively.
I told the father that if he wanted his son to be successful, he should immediately stop saying labels like “lazy” and “stupid”.
Using EMDR on a boy to desensitize him to the events of when his father assaulted him began to change his beliefs about himself. Processing allows people to see problematic events from a different perspective. In this case, the boy could see that his father was an extremely anxious person who was out of control and had not learned to communicate effectively. He no longer took those criticisms personally. Then he could finally feel some relief that nothing might be wrong with him except for his fear of failure. His father’s constant criticism made him not try for fear of further criticism if he did not succeed.
We break his work down into small steps so he can have confidence that he’s done the work and we have reference-building phases of therapy that reinforce his success. His grades have improved and now my father is motivated to keep up with these changes and is able to stop his swearing altogether.
One of the things the boy always wanted to do was play football, but he was afraid of being criticized by his father if he didn’t make it to the first team. We changed our intention of playing football to having the experience of learning the game instead of making the first team. So now I am enjoying learning the game and interacting with my teammates. With a bit of coaching in the family sessions, the father was actually able to express pride in his son’s achievements, while also identifying some of his son’s positive qualities, such as persistence and strength.
Research has shown that the quality of the therapeutic relationship, along with the therapist’s training and experience, is an important component of successful therapy. I would say it is the foundation of therapy and the context in which healing takes place. Clearly, no technology can be very effective without a working relationship!
Thus, those who have experienced trauma in the context of a relationship face a significant dilemma. Past relationships are scarred: abandonment, betrayal, and unmet needs. Now you need to find a relationship to heal. It makes sense that in the aftermath of trauma, there are many reactions that make it difficult to connect. As I’ve written before, childhood trauma can interfere with basic developmental tasks such as self-soothing, seeing the world as a safe place, trusting others, organizing thinking for decision-making, and preventing exploitation.