As I say in my motivational speech, I have the amazing job of witnessing people’s transformation from crisis to triumph!
On Sunday a woman contacted me describing that she is in a pretty low place right now because of an abusive relationship that she is now leaving. She asked me if I only do marriage and couples therapy – or do I help people in her situation as well?
Yes! In some cases, if someone is being abused, I support them healing symptoms of trauma and moving forward in their life. I have expertise in couple’s therapy, however I also have expertise in individual therapy to help people recover from trauma and abuse.
Many people who are ending an abusive relationship feel violated and victimized. Symptoms may include nightmares and insomnia or sleeping too much, easily startled, difficulty concentrating, intrusive thoughts including memories of being abused flooding the mind, panic attacks, tearfulness or feeling numb, and feelings of hopelessness. One of the primary treatment approaches that I use to help reduce trauma symptoms is EMDR therapy. EMDR therapy stimulates both sides of the brain with a light bar, that helps trauma memories to become integrated into the left hand side of brain instead of staying stuck in the right side of the brain where the autonomic nervous system is located. Many of my clients have success with this treatment after one or a series of sessions.
When someone who has been abused heals and their trauma symptoms are reduced, I think of them as moving from “victim” to “survivor.” Many clients also feel this way about their healing process. It is wonderful to see people restored to wellness, peace, and happiness. I have been using EMDR therapy and psychotherapy to help survivors of abuse since 2000 when I worked for two years during my Ph.D. internship at the Rape Crisis Center of San Antonio, Texas. During this time, I also did my Ph.D. research on how family therapy can help victims of abuse to become survivors. Additional support and validation from family members and loved ones can greatly increase the positive effects of individual therapy.
I can think of a client recently who went through a traumatic incident in which she felt violated. She was not able to focus at work, she was having intrusive thoughts throughout the day and night, and she had extreme irritability and tearfulness. After talk therapy her symptoms did not diminish. So, we met for a session of EMDR therapy and she described that most of her symptoms were better the next day. EMDR therapy is a more physiological process and it is very helpful. In fact, I have worked with clients who have had weeks or months of talk therapy – and while talk therapy was helpful, it still did not give them the symptoms reduction needed. However, after EMDR therapy the symptoms were much better and they were healed.
EMDR therapy is a very spiritual approach for me. Helping people to heal their relationship with themselves and feel valued and worthy of love is part of my mission as a doctor and a healer. If you are needing help to heal from an abusive relationship – to repair and heal your relationship with yourself – please contact me for an appointment today!