Q: Every year I like to challenge myself with a New Year’s resolution. This year I’ve decided to tackle some long-standing emotional issues that continue to bother me. I’ve been in therapy a few times before, more than I’d really like to count, dealing with unfortunate things that happened in my childhood. It’s been helpful, somewhat, but it never feels fully resolved. I definitely don’t feel “healed“ the way some people talk about when they have been in therapy. I still have nightmares and I still have issues in my marriage and other relationships because of this stuff. I don’t really trust people and it’s very hard for me to make and keep friends.

A: A new year represents for all of us an opportunity for a fresh start. It sounds like this year you’re planning on going big, preparing to once again look at some tough experiences from childhood as you continue your healing and personal growth. While many forms of talk therapy can be effective, we recommend you consider looking for someone who specializes in treating trauma and has had specific training in a research based form of trauma therapy. Ask prospective therapists about their training and experience and take notes to refer back to when you’re ready to make your final choice. One of these modalities is called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). In this therapy, clients attend to memories of past disturbing experiences with the guidance of the therapist while eye movements, or other bilateral stimulation, are used to assist the brain in the integration and reframing the client’s understanding of those events into a more strength-based and adaptive perspective. Dr. Raffaella Peter, an EMDR certified therapist, says, “When we use EMDR, the patient is always the expert and accesses their internal self healing process.” For many, EMDR may be the better option because it is not limited exclusively to talking and thus offers an alternative approach to healing. Growth and healing can be a lifelong process, we applaud you for embracing it.

Originally posted in the Lakelands Leader in January 2021.