When gardening, the top of the weed seems most troublesome, but we know that just plucking the flower only has temporary results...
You have had another fight with your partner. Your emotions feel uncontrollable, you are ruminating, you have a hard time functioning. It can be tempting to come into a therapy session and rant about how your partner set you off, how they need to change, or even how annoyed you are at yourself. Telling your story and feeling heard and understood is important...but that's just the flower of it all. You need more.
Flowers Happen Because of What is Below the Surface:
Your reactions to your present circumstances and relationships are colored by the past. Those with complex, relational, or childhood trauma may have reactions they want to change, but looking at the present is just one piece. In order to change your relationships today, you have to understand how your reactions were shaped by the past.
Many are reluctant to revisit the past because 1. It’s painful, 2. they feel they should be “over it,” or 3. they don’t get why looking at the past will help with their actual problems. It’s beneficial to explore your history to understand your current suffering. Revisiting your past can build self-compassion, reveal the connection between past events and current challenges, clarify the ways former relationships are informing current relationships, and allow a long-overdue opportunity to process old wounds.
Practically speaking, this metaphor goes like this:
As an EMDR therapist in Oakland, CA, here is a common example I see:
The Stem: A client comes into therapy because they are excessively nervous about how people feel about them. They have low self-esteem. They presume people are untrustworthy. They feel a lack of belonging. They have core beliefs of being too much or not enough.
The Flower: The client has anxiety, distraction, problems in friendships, fights in romantic relationships, and frustrations at work. The client under reacts or overreacts to slights. The client can't seem to trust their intuition about how to react. They have anger. Sometimes they feel like multiple people at once. Simply speaking, they have symptoms of complex trauma (CPTSD).
And often, clients feel it is important to fix the flower. A quick trim, please! People want to make little changes, distance themselves from triggering friends, get validation at work. These things may be important, too, but little flower will keep sprouting because...the root!
The Root: You grew up with a parent who is emotionally reactive and drastically switches between being warm and being critical and distant. You grew up with a parent who wasn't present because of an addition, a diagnosis, or other reasons. You couldn't trust that your caretakers would be there for you. You were abused--emotionally, physically, sexually.
EMDR focuses on the root--underlying memories, reactions, core beliefs, in order to change how you show up today. In other words, EMDR is a bottom-up approach to therapy.
Learn more about EMDR Therapy!
Contact me to see if EMDR Therapy is a good fit for you!
EMDR is no means the only way to get to the roots. Experiencing relational healing, insight, parts work, somatic therapy, nervous system healing all get into the roots, the deeper causes of trauma reactions. Find what works best for you!
EMDR and the Roots of Trauma
***Resources are not a substitute for therapy and are not intended for making diagnoses or providing treatment. Not all practices and tools are suitable for every person. Please discuss exercises, practices, and tools with your individual therapist or health care provider.