EMDR: Adjunct Therapy

I have recently been accessing a healing modality called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). In this, the client presents a memory that is disturbing for them and the therapist uses specific techniques to support the client in rapidly shifting how this memory sits in -or impacts- their body, mind, and spirit. (For more detailed descriptions, video demos, etc, do an Internet search for EMDR.)

I did have one session of EMDR many years ago, and it successfully shifted the impact of a trauma experienced shortly before it. So when a person recently trained in it wanted to practice on real people, I jumped at the opportunity.

In my most recent session, I was bolder than in any previous one -I think I had been dipping my toes into the therapy before trusting it (or myself?) enough to “go big”. That last session has had the most profound effects. Interestingly, I noticed it brought very similar effects to that of early Intro! I kid you not! Since the last session:

  • my mind feels strangely clear,
  • my emotions are present and real yet calm and steady,
  • I’m having neat new ideas,
  • my sleep has been amazing: solid and sound,
  • I have a general sense of openness,
  • I am finding it easier and more natural to make decisions for my overall well-being

My son (eight years old) is also accessing this therapy and is showing profound changes, just as he did with GAPS! Those of you who have read the GAPS Guide book know that with SCD then GAPS, my son became able to speak and bathe, stopped bashing his head, became quite grounded, and so on. And because he lives with a person (i.e., me) that aims to do this, he has since then had an excellent ability to put words to his emotions and experiences. But upon two sessions of EMDR, he is expressing himself even more comprehensively and easily, has increased self-regulation, and seems to have a lot more energy, too!

Most profoundly was this change: My son wet his bed profusely every single night. This stopped when we drastically reduced oxalates in his diet but returned when we were not strict on this count -and, frankly, I wasn’t keen on maintaining a diet more strict than we were already doing. It also responded very well to a book called Dry All Night, but also returned. After his second session of EMDR, the bedwetting ended completely!

All of this also reminds me very much of Gerald’s posts (in the comments section here) on iodine and niacin. He has found similar effects through both.

I am left curious: Why do Intro, minerals or vitamins resolve trauma symptoms (as well as many others) in some of us? What is the relationship between the gut and mind, such that Intro, minerals, or vitamins can have an effect so parallel to that of EMDR?

I’m excited about the use of adjunct therapies in tandem with GAPS (or, in my case, post-GAPS). Part of me craves to apply only one therapeutic approach at a time, so that I can observe and report on each one in its own right. But I get excited, and end up doing more than one at once, leaving me unable in some cases to speak to the effects of just one. Oh well.

I feel I can say this:

  • Intro (even without EMDR) is magical for me.
  • EMDR (while doing GAPS about 80%) is also magical for me.

While I’d love for us to be able to study the effects of each therapy in its own right -mostly to be able to share with others what we find to be the most efficient and cost-effective route to healing- the fact is that many things help heal, and many of us do more than one at a time. And often a synergy of healing modalities brings wonderfully profound results. In fact, I have regularly recommended that since Intro can bring up emotions or even new awareness, it can be helpful to have a therapy such as counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or EMDR -or even just an awesome friendship in which one can talk everything out- in place for that period.

I believe that GAPS is an awesome foundation for all healing. Based on my personal experience, I also recommend EMDR. EMDR can be made affordable by:

  • accessing a practitioner-in-training, or a newly-trained one
  • accessing one through a public (e.g., free) counselling clinic
  • accessing one offering services on a sliding scale

Another therapy many GAPSters have loved is called Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT. Google that one, too, for instructions on how to do that solo. I didn’t have as much success with that one -not sure why; I believe different things work for different people. But I know that this very affordable therapy has been key for a number of GAPSters.

Feel free tell us in the comments section below your experiences with EMDR, EFT, or any other therapy you have used and loved, especially in terms of how they relate to your experience with GAPS.

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11 Replies to “EMDR: Adjunct Therapy”

  1. I’m working with Neurological Repatterning Developmental Movement with Bette Lamont. (She’s based in Seattle WA). In combination with the repatterning movement Bette strongly recommends gut healing via GAPS. So this is a good fit for me.

    I’m also using Re Evaluation Counseling (A.K.A. Co-counseling)….. Which is based on the understanding that emotional discharging is a natural healing process and that we can learn simple techniques to help each other in discharging. Actually just being kind and present with someone who needs to release (discharge) is the essence of Co-counseling. I love that it doesn’t cost very much. You pay a little to take a basic class and counsel with other members of the class in an equal exchange. Usually the class costs any where from $50 to $250 for a 10 week class. Beyond that you can exchange counseling for free with others who have had the training.

    I am also seeing a therapist who specializes in E.M.D.R. I agree that it is an excellent technique for all the same reasons you listed.

    Besides my physical health issues, I’ve had a lot of emotional trauma so these adjunct therapies have been the most helpful to me. The scientist side of me would like to do each of these healing modalities separtely while keeping detailed records to identify specific results of each technique but I don’t have time for that. I’m 53 and want to get on with life and heal.

    Thanks again for your clear writing on relevant topics.

  2. Hi Baden, I was very excited to read your post here on alternative modalities of therapy (or what I consider modalities of “healing”). I haven’t tried this therapy, but it sounds like something to try. I personally have been able to “heal” my leaky gut and food allergies significantly when I started seeing beyond diet alone. Other modalities I have used are yoga, tapping or EFT, chiropractic care – all of which restore CALM into the body, digestive system and brain so your parasympathetic nervous system takes over. I have used the GAP diet on and off for the last 1 ½ years. I also found that by reducing my oxalates, I had greater healing. I struggled on GAP because of the oxalates in almond flour, peanut butter, carrots, kale and all the juices I did, you name it – so I had to look into cutting way back on my oxalates. With your son, you said you cut down his oxalates for bed wetting (one of many consequences of oxalate saturation in the body), what foods are you removing and what are you replacing them with (i.e. almond flour, almond and peanut butter, other veges, etc? And have you consisdered having a section in your GAPS guide for those of us who are cutting out oxalates?

  3. Hey, Baden,

    Regarding EMDR…my therapist used the technique with me 14 years ago, after ending my marriage and the psychological abuse inflicted from my husband. I was relieved of the “hole” in my chest-quite literally I felt I had a hole in my chest and was relieved. The memories of abuse were not gone; however the debilitating effect of those memories were gone. I highly recommend the therapy. I first saw the psychologist several years earlier when suffering from clinical depression, then sought his help in the emotional effect of the demise of my marriage. Again, the technique was was a tremendous blessing for me!

    Fondly, Orpah

  4. I get so excited when I see a post from you in my email! If you remember (I’m summoora), I planned to start GAPS before I got pregnant, but I got pregnant sooner than I thought, and had a really hard time with morning sickness, and ended up not starting until after my daughter was born. I of course can’t do intro for the foreseeable future (the next 1.5 years at least) for my severe milk allergy, but I am hoping to take a trip overseas this coming summer primarily to see some family that I haven’t seen for 10+ years, but also to have access to camel milk for a four week period and to try cupping, a sort of combination of acupuncture and bloodletting, a traditional detoxifying procedure in the Middle East. It is known to be very helpful in treating sensitivities and chronic illness, including a SUN SENSITIVITY that my sister-in-law suffers from, and I have high hopes for those therapies in conjunction with GAPS (and if it solves my allergy issue, possibly more like WAPF, reintroducing properly prepared starches and beans). I have been living with this allergy for as long as I can remember, so I’m keeping expectations low, but hopes are high!

    • Hello dear Summer,

      Yes, absolutely I remember you! For me, this blog is something of a ‘community’, and I feel a connection with each person that ‘joins’ by posting more than once. I likewise always love to see a post from you here… I’m excited about your journey and hope you keep posting your thoughts, ideas, approaches, and results. All my best to you and your baby girl!!

      Baden

  5. Hi Baden,

    You ask a very important question about the relationship between trauma and gut health. I don’t recall seeing any musings about that in the trauma lit I read years ago.

    Here’s a off-the-cuff hypothesis: At the time of trauma, adrenaline rises, and we can get stuck in the fight or flight response for longer than is necessary to respond to the immediate trauma – i.e. it becomes chronic. The first bodily function that turns off in fight or flight is digestion – so the body can redirect that energy to fighting or fleeing. Over time it seems feasible that this could cause gut problems, even perhaps change the gut flora – though the latter seems to be a leap, or at least something I can’t explain.

    So – trauma maybe CAUSES gut problems. So healing the trauma can impact gut healing positively.

    Alas, that has not been true for me!

    BUT I have not completed GAPS successfully. It could be that having done GAPS, the level of healing in your gut is at a point where a modality like EMDR can make a significant difference.

    That would be consistent with my experience: EMDR did nothing for me. Years later I heard that EMDR does not work if you have a compromised gut. (I have no idea where I heard that…memory problems!)

    Here’s another clue from my personal experience: My digestive problems started within a few months/weeks of quitting drinking (at age 27). I looked for an explanation for years. The best theory I’ve run across is similiar to the above: That the alcohol was calming down my post-trauma (from childhood and teens) fight or flight response. Once I quit drinking that old adrenaline-based response was more free to wreak havoc (spelling?) in my gut.

    I hope you can take these ideas and run with them, if you find them useful.

    Blessings,
    Jeanne

    • Jeanne,

      I am excited about your thoughts!

      I’m absolutely confident that trauma causes gut problems. I know I feel any stress in my gut, and that stress determines how well I can digest food. And just this morning I was pondering what would have happened if we had done EMDR and *then* GAPS. Ultimately, my feeling was that diet is still the best place to start, for several reasons. Maybe I’ll post on that down the road.

      Great thread!! Thanks for sharing your experience and ideas.

      All my best,
      Baden

  6. On a related note:

    I love flower essences. I find they have a positive impact on my emotions.

    However — they do nothing when I’m bingeing on sugar or drinking. It’s only when I’m “cleaned out” (this is all pre-GAPS) that the essences work.

    – Jeanne

  7. Hi Baden,

    Thanks for all you do and for sharing your experiences with GAPS and more. I suffered a traumatic injury 20 years ago and sustained an incomplete spinal cord injury. My hospitalization was complicated by sepsis for which I received very powerful IV antibiotics. Through the years, I developed a fungal rash that would never completely go away and I experienced more and more intestinal problems including constipation and diarrhea. Over the last twenty years I began to notice that I would become excedingly angry, out of proportion to the event presented to me and I could never figure out what was going on. I live in a community that expereinced a mass shooting 2 years ago after which I felt as if I was losing my mind. I sought psychological help and underwent EMDR. It did help to calm and stabilize me but I knew that I was not healed. Eleven weeks ago I began GAPS Intro and I do feel as if it is helping. I am determined to remain on the diet for as long as it takes to heal my gut. I now believe that I have a candida over-growth that has gotten completely out of control. I am convinced that this is what has destabilized me physically and emotionally. Just KNOWING that there is something that I can do to heal myself is giving me hope. The woman who developed EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Francine Shapiro, published a book in 2012 called “Getting Past Your Past,” which some of your visitors to this site might find useful. Once my gut is more healed, I plan to revisit this technique to see if I can expereince further psychological improvement. Honestly, I am now convinced that unless my gut heals, my brain will not be the same.

  8. Sorry, but I forgot to mention that my worst symptom after the mass shooting in my community was that I could not sleep, literally. I was lucky to get 1-3 hours of sleep/night. Most of the time I didn’t sleep at all and this went on for almost two years. Three weeks after starting GAPS Intro I was sleeping 5-7 hours/night. I don’t even think about my sleep anymore. I know that when I go to bed I will sleep. What a remarkable change. This is why I know that the GAPS Diet works. Best, MA

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