Category: Jeremy Bailey LAMFT

EMDR – A Powerful Tool for Resolving Trauma

By Jeremy Bailey, LAMFT

EMDR therapyWe all go through experiences that can be difficult, confusing, painful, or overwhelming, and sometimes we feel that we are at a loss to know how to deal with them. When we live through these traumatic experiences oftentimes we feel overwhelmed, full of panic and anxiety and find it hard to move on or find peace. We can all think of experiences, some from our childhood and others from the present that make us cringe, make us want to cry, want to run away, or there are some that are too paralyzing to think about. These are all forms of trauma. Our brains have different parts of it that help us navigate the world. We have the smaller brain which is our protective brain which helps us respond quickly in the presence of a threat. It’s the part of the brain that tells us to fight, flight (run away), or freeze. Then we have the amygdala that loops information between the smaller brain and the larger brain—our reasoning part of the brain. The part of the brain that can tell us to calm down, interpret the threat differently or find purpose to a lived experience. When we have experienced trauma, the amygdala skips the big brain and when triggered keeps us looping in the smaller brain.

On of the most well researched and evidenced-based treatments for trauma is a tool called EMDR; Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. The theory behind how EMDR works is based on the belief that when we experience REM sleep (you know the phase of sleep where your eyes move back and forth) our brains are processing the events of the day. The premise of EMDR is that we use rapid eye movement and create a safe environment to give the brain permission to process and put to rest the sensations, emotions, negative beliefs, and other associations related to the trauma we have experienced.

Safety First

The first part of EMDR treatment is creating a relationship of trust with the therapist and creating safety. The reason why trauma can be so hard to deal with is because a part of us was hurt by it, and we want to protect ourselves from being hurt again. EMDR is a safe treatment where we don’t have to relive the trauma. It is the therapist’s job to make sure you we have the resources we need in order to proceed with the treatment. This entails creating a mindful, safe place and practicing to make sure we can switch from a distressed state to a calm state. The therapist also helps to assess if we are ready to do EMDR or if we need to build other resources beforehand.

Memory Targeting

EMDR works by targeting specific memories, negative beliefs, and sensations to help relieve the distress they cause. The next phase of treatment is to identify the different memories and other memories we might have felt the same. The therapist will then suggest the target memory that would be the best to work on first. Usually the best memory to target is the first time we felt a certain way and not necessarily the most present issue. The belief is that by treating the earlier memory it will generalize into other experiences. Plus, they are usually easier memories to clear because they are further in the past and have less details.

Desensitization

The goal of the desensitization phase of treatment is to use the rapid eye movement and the safety that has been created to allow for the negative beliefs, feeling and sensations related to the memory to be put to rest. Distress is measured on a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 is neutral or no distress and 10 is the highest level of distress imaginable. The goal of this phase of treatment is to have 0 distress or neutral feelings when thinking back to the target memory. This is an incredible thing when the memory of the experience causes no distress. Some people describe it like not being able to see the experience any more or like it is trying to recall something that is distant or far away.

Reprocessing

After removing the distress of the experience, the next stage is to replace the negative beliefs with more positive beliefs and use the rapid eye movement to enhance the belief that those beliefs are true. These are rated on a scale from 1 to 7 where 1 is completely false and 7 is completely true. The goal of this phase is for the client to feel that their positive belief is completely true and even go higher on the scale past 7. Some people have described this experience as euphoric and very pleasurable, being able to think positively about themselves after so much doubt and fear.

Body Scan

The next phase of treatment is to clear out any unusual or odd sensations in the body to verify that the trauma which has been stored in the body can be cleared out. This is done by scanning the body and then using the rapid eye movement to process any unpleasant sensations until the body is relaxed and free.

Future Template

After doing such amazing work the next phase of treatment is to create a scenario where they might be challenged in the future by triggers or situations that possibly we have been avoiding because of the trauma. The therapist uses the rapid eye movement to enhance the confidence in living those situations in the way we would want to live instead of feeling controlled by a trauma response.

I am grateful that there are treatments like EMDR available that offer relief after experiencing trauma. I also want to share that it is just another tool available and that it might not be for everyone or the timing might not be right for some individuals. It has been amazing to see the relief that people have experienced as I have worked with them. EMDR has been an important clinical advancement and a powerful tool to help anyone seeking to grow and overcome something in their life to feel centered and whole.

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeremy at 801.272.3420

Moana – Is There a Monster Inside of You?

By Jeremy Bailey, LAMFT

In Disney’s “Moana”, Moana is the daughter of the chief who was chosen by the ocean to find Maui and return the heart of Te Fiti. On her journey to return the heart she has to face the angry, fiery, lava monster; Te Kā. It is later discovered that Te Ka was actually just a part of Te Fiti. I think we all have different parts of us that need to be heard and understood, but too often we spend our time labeling the scary and unacceptable parts as “bad” instead of listening to what they have to say.

If we didn’t know that Te Kā was just the protector of Te Fiti’s heart we might make the mistake of seeing her as the villain in this movie. She was furiously seeking to be healed and have her heart restored to her. Her pain was so big that it was frightening to everyone around her and people thought they had to fight against her to find a resolution.

It wasn’t until Moana could see her for what she was that she could soothe her and calm her by returning her heart to her and allowing for her to heal. If it wasn’t for Moana’s journey of accepting the part of herself that she had been suppressing for so much time I don’t think she would have seen Te Kā’s plea for healing and wholeness.

My favorite scene in the movie is Moana approaching the giant, terrifying, living volcano monster and singing:

“I have crossed the horizon to find you
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
I know who you are”

Moana’s journey is an excellent representation of what therapy can be like. I love those moments of acceptance of self and others as awareness is made, love conquers fears, and individuals, couples, and families take greater risks of being more congruent and whole.

Do you have a monster inside of you? Inside of your marriage, family, or other relationships? How does it make you feel? What do you want to do when it rears its head?

May I invite you to try something new next time it shows up? Take a pause and just notice it. Give it a name. Cross the horizon and appreciate what the monster is doing for you. Maybe your monster is protecting you from something—from being hurt or being lonely or scared? Maybe the monster is trapped by some rigid belief about life or about how things “should” be. Maybe the monster has forgotten why she showed up in the first place and just needs to know that it is safe to go home.

Whatever the case may be, try to see your monster as just another part of everything that makes you, you and love it just as much as the other parts of you that are easier to love. Instead of feeling hatred and anger, look at your monster more like your protector and defender and soothe it by giving your whole heart to your whole self.

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeremy at 801.272.3420

Doing the Laundry

Doing the Laundry

By Jeremy Bailey, LAMFT

I don’t know about you, but laundry has always been an interesting dilemma for my family and me. Growing up in a family of 12 we had a bag and crate system to help get the clothes to the washroom and then back to our closets. My mom’s biggest chore in our home was to wash the laundry. Besides the bags and crates we also had the famous “sock bucket” where all the socks ended up needing to be sorted or left partnerless . . . probably to this day.

Now, with my family of five, we oftentimes deal with the laundry couch where all the clean clothes wait to be folded. I have learned that it is easy to have the washer and dryer do their job but sometimes finding the time to fold and store is a personal challenge. Many times, we have to run the clothes to the bedroom or even put them back in the dryer if guests are coming over—until we can better deal with them.

You are probably wondering why I am talking about laundry on a therapy blog or why I am sharing about my struggle with laundry. The reason is because I think our feelings are very similar laundry. See, everyone has laundry and as humans we also have feelings. In fact, we have a lot of feelings.

Just like laundry—we have our darks, whites, colors, and delicates. And just like laundry, we all have to constantly do something with them. This can be tricky, especially when dealing with gentle fabrics, hard stains, or even when too many have piled up, and it becomes overwhelming to where we have to take our laundry to a dry cleaner. As a therapist, I have noticed that learning to do emotional laundry is an essential skill for individuals and families.

Take a moment and think about how you learned to do your emotional laundry. I fear that in a lot of homes we treat our feelings and emotions like laundry. In many families, mom takes care of the laundry for everyone—separating, washing, drying, sorting, folding, and storing which is quite the task. That has to be exhausting. Think about your current family—who does the emotional laundry in your home? Do you and your partner work together? Is this a task that you discuss or does one partner always feel burdened with this important detail? It is my belief that a strong and healthy practice is that everyone learn to be responsible for doing their own wash while also pitching in to help the entire family get through laundry day.

As parents, we have the awesome responsibility and opportunity to help our children learn to sort through their feelings and deal with them on a regular basis so they don’t become overwhelming. Oftentimes the 2 hardest tasks for anyone to learn are to identify different feelings and know where they belong. It is important that we treat delicate feelings different than others and understand that the process of dealing with them is special and important. Helping children name strong and vulnerable feelings helps them to normalize their experience and know that they are not alone. It also gives them permission to accept their feelings and parents the opportunity to let them know how they can best deal with some strong emotions.

As intimate partners we have the great opportunity to “lighten each other’s load”. Although each partner should ultimately be responsible for their own feelings we also depend on each other to take care of and care for each other’s emotional needs. Part of being a human is to experience a wide range of feelings and emotions during different times in our life. The best part of being in an intimate relationship is that we get to have help during those times. Sometimes all we need to know is that we have a helping hand when folding an endless pile of mismatched socks.

strengthening-your-marriage

Take the chance today to help your family with their daily laundry. Maybe you validate your child’s softer feelings today or you take some extra time noticing the wrinkles and the stains on your partner’s favorite shirt. Maybe you just notice the beautiful threads and textures of all the different feelings and emotions we get to experience and just accept them as part of our great human experience without defining them as good or bad, right or wrong, but just different and unique. Try to not let your emotional laundry pile up and become unbearable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance when it does appear to be too much, that is what family, friends, and therapists are for after all.

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeremy at 801.272.3420