Book Notes, Vol. 6

by | Aug 26, 2013 | 0 comments

My goal here is to help you, the reader, to view psychology as the rich and powerful process that it is.  Perhaps you will see it for the sacred work that I am privileged to do rather than a sitcom version of a therapist as a buffoon.  When a client says, “No one knows this not even my husband.” These are sacred and privileged words that follow. This is deadly serious work. I also hope that you will see just how brilliant Jesus of Nazareth was, in that his words and model work and touch us on multiple levels.  This book is about the psychological relevance of His life and death.

Georgia began the shivering session just like most EMDR sessions. She sat in the chair in front of the light bar, which is an approximately two-foot-long horizontal bar where a row of blue lights rapidly glide back and forth from one end to the other in a straight line.  Georgia had to keep her head still and only move the pupils of her eyes back and forth tracking the lights as they moved. She was also holding the oval shaped tactile stimulators, one in each hand, one grey and the other black, both tethered to the base of the light bar by a wire. These stimulators gently vibrated alternately in her hands, like a cell phone vibrating, always in unison with her eye movements. When her eyes looked left, the gray stimulator in the left hand vibrated. When her eyes looked right, the stimulator in the right vibrated. The hand devices made it possible for her to close her eyes during EMDR if she felt compelled to do so. These are some of the tools of EMDR.

I have seen many strange things happen during EMDR sessions, especially when the body is greatly involved in the process. One of my EMDR trainers shared the story of a forty-five-year-old male client whom he was treating. They targeted an old memory in which the man’s father took him for a haircut when he was four years old. The client was afraid of the barber and was usually taken for a haircut by his mother, who had much more patience with her son than the father.  On this occasion the boy was crying with fear in the barber’s chair. The father decided to shut the boy up by slapping him across the face. The client recalled the incident clearly and he stated that he could see his father’s hand print on his little six-year-old cheek in the mirror as the barber cut his hair while he sobbed and heaved.

When this memory was targeted using EMDR, this forty-five- year old man’s cheek began to turn red with a clear imprint of his father’s fingers on it. EMDR seeks and finds the path of the imprinted memory and dismantles it. The healing is profound.

Then there are people who say they are speaking to God, or the chair they are sitting in ends up bouncing and rocking all over my office. There are situations like Georgia’s, where the emotions and the memories are so painful that the person will wail and end up on the floor in a fetal position. These are common occurrences in EMDR, but Georgia’s emotional response today was one of the most dramatic scenes I’ve ever witnessed.

It did not take long for me to realize how different my work had become with EMDR than with traditional talk therapy. I really was not functioning as a psychologist, because I would say so little. Once I set the process up it is up to the client. They have to let go; they have to surrender.  They have to take up their cross and move toward their crucifixion and rebirth. As I have said, I’m more like a guide, or companion, and also one who bears witness to their horrible truth, regrettably they have to briefly experience it one last time.


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