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Why I <3 EMDR

By Charlotte Jarvis


This week I realized I’m living my dreams.

I met with two clients, and had a break before my team meeting with my group practice, Seattle EMDR Associates, and I grabbed a coffee down the block and then went for a walk looking at all the trees in their stunning spring form.

I had just finished a session with a client, a survivor of sexual assault, and I spent some time on this walk processing the session.

I started working in the domestic violence field in 2015, and I have a lengthy history of working in the public nonprofit and education sectors prior. I was drawn to this work because it’s given my life meaning. It’s helped me make meaning of my own experiences, and it’s given me such a sense of purpose to support other survivors on their healing journeys.

I ran a domestic violence shelter, went on to Antioch University Los Angeles for their Psychological Trauma specialization, and landed one of the few internship positions with a highly sought after agency, Peace Over Violence, working with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Everything in my life in the last seven or eight years has revolved around trauma in one way or another, and one might argue, much longer than that…

My point is, I was experiencing burn out. And the kind of burn out that you don’t really even know you’re having. Where it's just a bit of a way of life at that point. That was until my clinical supervisor encouraged me to get trained in EMDR.

Today now, just merely a year later, I had a session with this client. It was their first reprocessing session, and they had decided they wanted to work on intimacy with their partner. Her Negative Cognition (one of the working points in EMDR) was “I cannot trust anyone,” and we checked in about that fact that I could tell she was quite nervous. I asked a few questions to see if

I could clarify anything further for her, or if she wanted to continue and she said she did. And, after two sets of bilateral stimulation aka BLS (this is the eye movement part), I asked the typical “what are you noticing now?” She reported “I’m noticing that I want to connect with him,” and the moment she said that she became teary eyed, as did I.

About five sets of Bilateral Stimulation (BLS) ((the eye movement part)), and she found herself noticing that she was actually longing for connection with her partner. She began to notice how much she deeply loved and trusted her partner, and she noticed herself feeling safe thinking about him. It was so beautiful to witness this, and it still makes me feel really emotional.

Survivors struggle with isolation. After experiencing trauma, no one feels safe, or trustworthy, and everything can feel scary. Even people we love, we often don't know if we can trust. To witness this individual and left me with such a deep sense of gratitude.

It left me with a deep sense of gratitude to my practice, to my place in this world, to the practice of EMDR, and Francine Shapiro for creating this treatment modality. And, it left me with such a sense of gratitude for being able to share this magical gift with survivors I work with. To be able to help them along on their journey to getting the lives they want for themselves.

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