“Counseling and recovery seem so expensive. I don’t think I can afford it.” This is a very common concern that therapists and recovery experts hear from clients and/or potential clients. Yes, many people can readjust their lives and spending habits some to make room for their mental and relational health. But, for some, if not most, when these words are spoken, it is a legitimate concern. In this episode of RecoveryTV LIVE, licensed therapists and long-time recovery experts, Chuck & Vicky Robinson, joins us to talk about this concern. We hope you will consider joining in on this LIVE discussion and bring your questions with you!
Chuck Robinson grew up in Oklahoma City, attending the University of Central Oklahoma, where he graduated with a Business Management degree in 1988 and a Masters of Arts in Substance Abuse Studies in 2012. He was a local oil and gas business owner while volunteering in their church. In 2005, Robinson accepted the position as the first recovery pastor at Henderson Hills Baptist Church, located in Edmond, Oklahoma, serving on staff for eight (8) years. Robinson is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, a Licensed Minister and a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist. Today he works as a therapist for Refine Counseling, located in Edmond, OK. He and his wife Vicky, co-founded a non-profit called Refined Silver, LLC. Refined Silver helps clients cover the expensive costs for counseling and/or residential treatment. He has written a book, published in 2016, called ‘Loving the Addict in Your Pew, a roadmap for building a church-based recovery ministry.’
Do you find yourself trapped in your own brain? Is a distressing memory stuck, replaying over and over? Do you intellectually know that you are not to blame for what has happened, but continue to struggle with negative beliefs about yourself? Do you react one way, wishing you could react differently, more appropriate or positive? Would you like for that traumatizing situation to become a distant memory? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, EMDR therapy could be beneficial for you.
The human brain routinely manages new information and experiences, appropriately processing and storing the information. However, when something out of the ordinary occurs and the brain is overwhelmed by a distressing event or cumulative distressing events, the natural coping mechanisms can become overloaded. This overloading can result in the distressing events becoming stuck, creating emotional wounds.
Research shows that the brain can heal from emotional wounds just as the body recovers from physical wounds. When you cut your hand, your body works to repair it. If the wound becomes infected or repeated injuries occur, the wound will not heal. But, if the wound is cleaned out, it can heal properly. EMDR suggests a similar process with the brain. The brain, like the body, naturally works to repair its wounds. When a disturbing event occurs, an infection can cause the emotional wound to become inflamed and can cause intense suffering. Once the infection is cleaned out, healing can resume. Using EMDR therapy protocols and procedures, therapists can help clients activate these natural healing processes.
EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment: history-taking, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and reevaluation. Eye movements, or bilateral stimulations, are used during the reprocessing phases. The therapist will direct eye movements back and forth across the client’s field of vision. It is hypothesized that the bilateral stimulation in EMDR therapy works similarly to REM sleep, the active sleep stage characterized by rapid eye movements, low muscle tone, and vivid dreams. REM sleep is believed to be when the brain reorganizes itself by forming new connections between brain cells, storing relevant information, and cleaning itself of useless information.
When distressing events occur and the brain is overwhelmed, the person’s experiences (images, thoughts, feelings, and sensations) are stored in the same form it was initially experienced. When these stuck memories go untreated, these initial feelings and body sensations can automatically arise, coloring our perceptions of similar present situations. A rape victim may continue experiencing the fear or have visions of the perpetrators face years after the rape. Through the bilateral stimulations, these experiences can be processed, sorted out, and stored appropriately. Effective EMDR therapy will help the rape victim to continue to live life without constant fear, anxiety, and recurring flashbacks; rather, the person will have more appropriate and healthy thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Because the wounds have been cleaned out, new connections are allowed to be made. Often, clients walk away from EMDR therapy feeling empowered with new positive core beliefs about themselves. Inherently, the emotional wounds have not just healed, but they have also been transformed.
If you have experienced trauma, distressing events, emotional difficulty, or just find yourself stuck in your thoughts and behaviors, I encourage you to seek an EMDR trained therapist.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a psychotherapy treatment discovered, developed, and termed by Francine Shapiro, PH.D. It was originated to reduce negative emotions associated with memories of distressing events. A three-pronged protocol is utilized to address 1) memories of past experiences, 2) present triggers, and 3) desired responses for future situations. The goal is to establish understanding that will lead to healthy behaviors and interactions.
There are 8 phases of EMDR treatment: 1) history, 2) preparation, 3) assessment, 4) desensitization, 5) installation, 6) body scan, 7) closure, and 8) reevaluation. The length of time spent on each phase varies from client to client. Phases 1-3 focus on history taking, assessing client readiness, evaluating and teaching stress management skills, and setting up the reprocessing phases. Eye movements, or bilateral stimulations, are used during the reprocessing phases, phases 4-6. The therapist will alternate between directing eye movements back and forth and obtaining feedback from the client. Feedback consists of new information, images, emotions, and body sensations experienced during the eye movements. To ensure client stability, each processing session will be debriefed; and the client will be encouraged to complete a relaxation exercise (phase 7). In the last phase, client’s progress, chosen memory, and remaining memories will be evaluated.
EMDR is guided by Shapiro’s Adaptive Information Processing model (AIP). AIP suggests that memory networks, or the patterns in which memories are associated, are the root of health and pathology. When an experience is successfully processed, the memory is adaptively stored in the brain. We can then better understand past experiences; and we are better able to handle future similar situations. However, when the brain is overwhelmed, it stores the disturbing event, and the accompanying images, emotions, beliefs, and physical sensations, in a memory network that is isolated and prevented from connecting with more useful, adaptive networks. Consequently, present day situations tend to trigger these isolated memory networks, creating PTSD symptoms, as well as, symptoms of other mental disorders. When EMDR processing begins, new information comes to mind, appropriate connections are made, and disturbing memories are unlocked and released. As a result, emotional distress and problematic symptoms are eliminated, insights occur, and new learning emerges.
In addition to its use for traumatic experiences, studies show a high degree of effectiveness with the following populations:
Phobias Depression Attachment Disorder
Panic Disorder Conduct Problems Self-Esteem
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Grief and Mourning Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Sexual Dysfunction Pedophilia Psychotic Disorders
Chronic Pain Migraine Headaches Phantom Limb Pain
Traditional therapy focuses on shifting emotions, thoughts, and responses resulting from disturbing experiences; whereas, EMDR focuses on changing the way in which a memory is stored, thus reducing and eliminating the problematic symptoms. The insights gained in EMDR therapy result from the client’s own intellectual and emotional processes, rather than from a therapist’s interpretation. The therapist will facilitate self-healing by intervening as little as possible. The therapist will be more direct than traditional therapy; and little empathy and active listening will be offered during the processing phases. However, the therapist will continually assess and support the client. Unlike other trauma-focused therapies, EMDR does not include prolonged exposure or detailed descriptions of the disturbing memories; rather, the therapist needs just enough information to create the memories to process.
EMDR is considered to be safe with fewer side effects than many prescription medications. It is the client’s brain doing the healing and the client is the one in control. However, there are some aspects to be mindful of with EMDR. Some clients may experience high levels of emotion, vivid images, and intense sensations as unresolved memories surface. As uncomfortable as this may be, it is best to allow these experiences to process through. The therapist will continually be assessing the client and will debrief at the close of each processing. The client may continue experiencing memories, flashbacks, dreams, feelings, or sensations between sessions. Containment exercises and self-control/ soothing strategies will be developed to utilize during and between sessions.
On this episode of RecoveryTV LIVE, we are interviewing Dr. Jennifer Morris, a well-known psychiatrist in our community, to discuss how medication, psychotherapy, and recovery can work together. If you have been considering utilizing meds as part of your recovery and/or therapy, then you should tune in to this episode and bring your questions. See you online!!
Dr. Morris received her M.D. from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in 1999. After working the field for a few years, in 2009, she founded Edmond Psychiatric Associates, a group practice where she and her team provide state of art treatment for psychiatric outpatient care.
Dr. Morris practices general psychiatry, with special focuses on treatment resistant depression, depression associated with comorbid medical illnesses (including polycystic ovarian syndrome), attention deficit disorder, suboxone management (opiate detox), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment and management.
She has delivered over 70 lectures to colleagues and peers regarding medication management, treatment resistant depression, eating disorders, and attention deficit disorder.
Have you ever heard someone tell another, “Stop gaslighting me!“? Or, maybe you were having a conversation with friends when one of them happened to mention how their ex-spouse would constantly “gaslight” him/her. Or, maybe you were simply scrolling mindlessly through your Facebook feed and came across an article about a concept referred to as “gaslighting.” Despite how you were first exposed to the term, many find themselves feeling oddly curious about exactly what it means and if it is something that has been happening in their lives. So, if you are reading this, you may already have some understanding of what gaslighting is, but I hope to offer you a little more insight into this concept.
Gaslighting is a clever manipulation aimed at getting someone, usually a loved one, to distrust their own experiences and their own reality. The term comes from an old 1940’s movie called “Gaslight.” In this movie, the husband has a terrible secret to hide. In effort to keep his wife off his trail, he utilizes psychologically manipulation to make her think that she is going crazy! If only he could get her to distrust her own reality, then she is more likely to overlook or dismiss anything suspicious or questionable. Gaslighting has also been referred as “crazy-making” in some circles.
Experiencing gaslighting is different than the somewhat normative experience of being lied to – like when a child lies about eating cookies when he has cookie crumbs all over his mouth. Gaslighting has a power element involved that leaves people feeling uneasy or twisted up inside. These feelings create distress due to how it challenges a person’s own intuition and the love and care they have for the person who is engaging in this manipulative behavior. The partner of a gaslighter often finds him/herself asking the question, “Am I going crazy?,” either to him/herself or even out loud to others.
Examples of gaslighting include blatant lies despite evidence of the contrary or even more subtle examples where actions and words don’t match up. Creating confusion or distraction is another way to keep the manipulation going. This can look like confusing details in a story or challenging or labeling someone else as the liar. Another element of gaslighting is using someone’s weakness or vulnerabilities against them. This is an effective way to distract and redirect the emotional energy of an exchange and take the heat off of the person with something to hide. In the video clip below, licensed therapist, Joshua Nichols, discusses different signs and symptoms to look for in case you are concerned that you are in a relationship with a gaslighter.
I hope you found the video helpful. After watching, you may have determined that you are in a relationship with a gaslighter. If that is the case, then you are likely now wondering what do I do about it or how do I put a stop to it? Well, below, we have posted a follow up video where licensed therapist, Joshua Nichols, addresses those questions. Please take a few minutes to watch.
If you find yourself in a tough relational situation, despite whether or not your spouse is a gaslighter, don’t waist anymore time trying to figure it out on your own. Seek out a relationship coach, therapist, or other relationship professional to help guide you through this relational journey. You are always more than welcome to contact our wonderful therapists here at FSC, but you can also search therapy directories (e.g., Psychology Today and IITAP) to find quality therapists in your area. We wish you well on this journey.
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