EMDR Therapy from a Therapist’s Perspective

I have been working as a clinical social worker specializing in psychotherapy for 35 years.  My work is a large part of me.  It has defined me for a very long time.​  To this day it continues to give me immense enjoyment.

In my quiet moments, I have often reflected on how I have maintained optimism, excitement, curiosity, and general positive regard for my work over such an extended period of time.  I believe that at the core, it is the feeling that there ​was​ always more to learn and to do ​better, that drives me.  I always look for better ways to help people overcome suffering for good.

Most traditional psychotherapy deals with cognition and emotion, which are essential components of “I”.  However, these two parts are only two of many parts of a whole person.  As a generally holistic therapist I found that involvement of the entire person often leads to resolution of symptoms more quickly.  I had been working as a psychotherapist for 16 years when I learned about how to incorporate the body into my psychotherapy work.

When I heard about EMDR ​(Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy, I was definitely a skeptic.  I felt certain that I would never buy into what I thought was certainly a fad. When two colleagues‎ decided to be trained in EMDR​ therapy​, I grudgingly joined them.  I have been eternally grateful ever since.

Over the next 19 years, I had the privilege of witnessing remarkable transformations helped by EMDR.​  Francine Shapiro, the creator of EMDR therapy rightly said: “If we’re bullied in elementary school, instead of the brain digesting it and letting it go, it actually gets stored in the brain with the emotions, physical sensations and beliefs that were there at the time.  People just don’t realize why they continue to feel anxiety in social situations because the situation is linking them to an unprocessed memory, and those feelings are coming up automatically.​”

Another way to put it is, our actions are based on our deeply-held beliefs.  Many of these are not conscious, meaning that we are not aware of them.  Some of these are rational.  Many of them are not.  From where do these irrational beliefs come?  They can come from a myriad of places, most often from troubling past experiences.  When past experiences are processed with EMDR therapy, irrational beliefs associated with these past experiences can be addressed.

I find it a joy to see clients find freedom from anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms that accompany emotional distress.  Practicing in an area of psychotherapy that is evidence-based and effective keeps me from burnout.  EMDR therapy​ helps to give many people back their lives.  EMDR therapy is also keeping one​ therapist—and so many others—completely engaged in the work.

The views expressed in these blogs are the author’s own and not necessarily reflective of those of Psychotherapy Matters.  Copyright © 2015 PsychotherapyMatters.com

Susan Yorke
Susan Yorke, Registered Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Susan has a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from McGill University. She has worked as a Registered Social Worker for over 30 years maintaining a full-time private psychotherapy practice for 28 years concurrently with part-time positions in the public sector: children’s mental health, inpatient psychiatry, and family service agencies. For the last 20 years she has also worked at a university counselling centre. Amazingly, Susan still finds time to train social work interns for the past 20 years as a field instructor at various universities in Canada and the USA.

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