It's time for another EMDR session today. If needed, two of them are held back to back, both an hour in duration. By the conclusion, the therapist always tells me that I'm doing hard, but necessary work. Afterward, I feel emotionally, even physically drained, but also more at peace. The office of the therapist is darkly lit, with no windows and only a solitary small lamp. This seems to intensify the process being done. I'm halfway hypnotized by the conclusion of our work together.
My eyes follow her fingers back and forth, side to side. Should I do it properly, I'm praised. It feels good to hear, especially in the middle of the discomfort. I am to hold a traumatic still picture of choice in my mind. The only perquisite is that it must be strong. Other images appear of their own accord. All perfectly normal.
Some of these have their own staying power. Some subside within the first few sweeps of her fingers, positioned as they are in a slight v-shape. Seated alongside me, the fingers travel from right to left and back. I'm never sure where my mind will go from session to session. Sometimes the images produced by the process are very disturbing. Often, feelings alone are troubling, but the images never match the emotional impact.
Every session begins with an exacting series of steps. The therapist works off of precise instructions found in a workbook. She cradles the instructions in her lap from the moment we begin to the time for parting. At first, I explain what has been recently troubling me. She takes extensive notes. That section proceeds like regular psychotherapy. Then comes a section where I'm asked to rank the severity of some traumatic image from my past. The pain is to ranked from 0 to 7, 7 being the most intense. An extensive ranking process proceeds while the EMDR is slowly introduced.
Sometimes I grow weary of the extended rating process. I'd just as soon proceed directly to direct EMDR, but that's not how it works. One has to follow each step in sequence, or the overall gain would not be sufficient or even effective. I keep telling myself that the brain is supposed to do the work. I find myself wanting to understand, intellectually, but that doesn't work. It will never work that way.
I am not in control of the process. The images and feelings come and go of their own free will. Eventually, the discomfort subsides. Pain and anxiety that once ranked a 7 steadily decreases to a 2, 1, or even a 0. At the outset, I was told I might need as many as thirty sessions. I've had five since and look forward to the next, even if I risk having a panic attack in the middle. I guess I could be angry about what happened to me, but I'd much rather devote that energy to making myself totally well.