It is quite common to hit a block during treatment. This can be a perfectly reasonable defense mechanism that your mind and body have constructed to help isolate yourself from disturbing or traumatic thoughts. A common example is found once the eye movement processing has begun, when someone starts to move away from thinking about their problem from an analytical viewpoint and starts to allow the subconscious to guide the process. It is almost like the subconscious is split in two… it knows where to take you to help address the trauma, but at the same time it acts to prevent you from accessing it as a protection mechanism.
A good first way to approach this kind of block is to try and shine a light on the block itself. For example, it might be useful to ask someone how they are experiencing the block. Is it a feeling in the body somewhere? Maybe just a mental fog or confusion? Or just a complete blank? Usually the block will have some kind of quality. If it is a feeling in the body, then it will have a location, a size, maybe some pressure or heaviness or lack of sensation.
Bringing an attitude of kind curiosity to the block is a great approach. By bringing kindness we are already starting to dispel the common ongoing self-criticisms (see The Negative Cognition) that usually accompany our traumas. Curiosity is much more helpful in learning about our blocks, as opposed to frustration and trying to push past it with brute force.
This attitude of kind curiosity can sometimes provide us with new insights into the blocks right from the start, but other times a block has such solidity that we need an additional approach to help us get into it.
The experience I have with bodywork and acupuncture has taught me to respect the deep connections between the mind and body. Often a block to our thought processes has a tangible physical component to it. In this case if a few cognitive approaches haven’t started to open things up, then some bodywork might be very effective.
For example, maybe the block is experienced as a knot in the stomach or middle of the body. This could be disrupting the connection between the upper and lower parts of the body. In this case, some gentle friction massage on the back or abdomen can help to re-establish a connection between the upper and lower body. In a sense the body’s overall energy becomes more connected. The renewed physical connections between parts of the body can stimulate renewed cognitive connections too. Often at this point, someone will have a new insight into the cause of the block, enabling us to restart the eye processing and go a little deeper into the process. In addition, some therapeutic touch can go a long way to relaxing a person and getting them to a place where they feel more able to access something that previously seemed overwhelming.
Bodywork or acupuncture is not for everyone, which is fine. But if a person is open to it, it can be a powerful complement to EMDR when a block is reached and a slightly different approach could be helpful.
If you have any questions about my approach to treatment, feel free to email me or leave a comment below.
Saturday, December 19th, 2015
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