This session Bob was having intrusive thoughts about when his vehicle was hit. No one really made it in his vehicle except Bob and since it is his duty to care for the wounded (medic), Bob had survivor’s guilt. This was one of the worst memories that Bob came in with and when he told me the story of what happen it was very emotional. Since we had dissolved so many layers of the war trauma with TAT in previous sessions I decided to use EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitizing Repossessing). I wanted to make sure that we were clearing all the trauma and not leaving fragments and EMDR can be very powerful and deep and has been proven to work on trauma.
So I set up the standard EMDR protocol which involves focusing on the picture of the event the negative belief, positive belief, emotions and body sensations, while using bilateral stimulation such as eye movement, audio or tactile (more on EMDR at my web site). It also involves using 2 subjective scales to measure progress in treatment. Since Bob had made so much progress it felt like the appropriate time to use EMDR. However, about one minute into the processing it became too much for Bob and he felt like he was back there. I do not believe it is my job to make people feel worse and Bob was definitely flooded by the images and feelings. So, within 2 seconds I switched the processing to Gentle Reprocessing (formerly called gentle EMDR) www.gentlereprocessing.com . Gentle Reprocessing uses imagery to buffer the intensity of the trauma while processing. Within minutes Bob was calmer and able to continue processing the incident. By the end of the session his guilt was gone and Bob felt he did the best he could in the situation, after all this is when Bob received his traumatic brain injury and an injury to his shoulder. He didn’t remember most of the incident.
This session reminded me that great therapies that work are not always appropriate for a particular person. Healing is something that is fluid and needs to be flexible for the moment and the person. Bob left the session feeling more empowered and definitely much calmer. I felt enormous gratitude for being witness to his work. With all the work I do I feel I am the facilitator to a process that happens inside my client and I help guide them. We all do have the innate ability to heal. My next entry will be a summary of Bob’s experience and then future entries will be about others who have volunteered to let me tell their story.
Look for my entries on Fridays either weekly or every other week depending on my schedule.