EMDR VS. Talk Therapy: Friend or Foe?

This is a great current debate, and one that I’ve recently highlighted in my brand new book: You NEED Therapy. EMDR: Real People, With Real Problems, Getting Real Help. If you’ve read my short little book (less than 100 pages), you’ll notice that I clearly outline the need for all of us to seek therapeutic help, as so many of us are affected by mental health distress (about one in five according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health). Moreover, I personally believe that the number is much higher: 100% of us are affected by mental health distress, because 100% of us have experienced (and survived) trauma. I go into more detail in my book about the different kinds of trauma, suffice to say not all trauma is of the “obvious” variety. I also clearly identify how Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is in my opinion the best, and fastest way to not just manage or cope with symptoms, but to completely eliminate them.

So I get this question often: “So Robert, if EMDR therapy is in your opinion the best and fastest form of therapy out there, why should I bother going to a talk therapist?”

Good question. In this blog post, I’m going to outline a few benefits and limitations of both therapies, and at the end, maybe it will become clear as to whether the two forms of therapy can work together, or if they are destined to be enemies!

Let’s start with EMDR.

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing was first conceived in 1987 by Dr. Francine Shapiro. It was an accidental discovery while she was walking in a park, and discovered that her distressing thoughts were becoming less distressing as she moved her eyes back and forth (probably watching birds, people, trees, etc.). Skipping over a great deal of the history here, EMDR was first used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and it was very successful. Since then, EMDR has been adapted to treat almost any kind of distress and or mental health disorder.

One of the hallmarks of EMDR is that it works significantly faster than talk therapy. Prior to my learning how to conduct EMDR, I was a talk therapist. I had been working with a full case load of clients with variations of significant trauma and PTSD symptoms (as a result of experiences such as rape, torture, physical violence, emotional blackmail, psychological manipulation – you name it). During that time, I had been working with these individuals for over two years, and only seen improvements in moderation – they began to stop self-harming, felt safe (enough) to share their stories, maintained a strong therapeutic alliance with me, and so forth. But the main issues that they were really struggling with (like being triggered in personal or social situations, aversion to intimacy, suffering from nightmares or flashbacks, difficulty with feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, reacting to feelings of shame with alcohol or drug use, etc.), were still there…lingering beneath the surface. Many of my trauma survivors would often say to me, “If only you knew the ‘real me’.”…

Once I started treating these very same individuals with EMDR, I began to see changes that I had only ever dreamed about (and for which my clients were too afraid to dream of). We were wrapping up treatment in as little as 8-12 sessions.

Prior to treating these individuals with EMDR, could I call myself a “Master Talk-Therapy Clinician”? No. Of course not; but since I had just begun to use EMDR at the time, I couldn’t call myself a “Master EMDR Clinician” either. It would seem that in using EMDR, I was helping more people, on a deeper level, in a fraction of the amount of time, with a psychotherapy approach that I had just discovered – as opposed to an approach that I had been studying for the better part of a decade (existentially-informed talk therapy).

A study by Gauhar (2016) showed that EMDR yielded a 95% effectiveness rate for treating depression, compared to a 40-50% effectiveness rate for treating depression that combined Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with medication (the most common method of treatment for depression to date). Furthermore, Gauhar showed that it only took six to eight sessions of EMDR to show noticeable improvement.

Another hallmark of EMDR is that after successfully completing treatment, the symptoms do not return. That means that you go for treatment once for each issue and when you’re done, you’re done. By “once” I mean however long it takes for the issue to be cleared the first time (could be two sessions, could be six, or 12, etc.), afterwards, that particular issue is eliminated for you. That’s not to say you’ll never have distress again (‘life happens”), but at least you will not have to struggle with the same issue again and again.

A U.S. National Comorbidity Survey published their findings that the “depression relapse rate” for those treated with CBT was between 50% and 80%, compared to the “depression relapse rate” for those treated with EMDR as being 0% (Gauhar, 2014)!

Very similar findings exist for other clinical issues such as PTSD, phobias, addictions, etc. In my book, You NEED Therapy: Real People, With Real Problems, Getting Real Help, I provide a nice list of some of these examples! Suffice to say, there’s no shortage of them after EMDR has been researched for over 30 years.

EMDR is endorsed by many professional associations throughout the world, such as: American Psychological Association; World Health Organization; U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and Department of Defense; U.S. Department of Health and Human Safety; Dutch National Steering Committee; National Institute for Clinical Excellence; and more. Moreover, EMDR is often provided to survivors of natural disasters, mass trauma incidents, and terrorist attacks – sometimes immediately following the incident in order to help process the recent trauma event. Suffice to say, EMDR is highly regarded for its clinical effectiveness.

Another difference between EMDR and talk-therapy is that there is NO homework with EMDR. You will be taught coping strategies in the beginning to ensure that you have the appropriate techniques to handle any triggers or reminders of trauma that might occur between sessions, but you will not be required to do things like: write lists at home, perform actions or statements in public to “improve confidence,” do something that makes you feel uncomfortable to “get over” your fears, read books and practice their exercises, etc. All you need to do is come to your scheduled session, report on what your experiences are in session (and anything that seems important between sessions), and trust that the Certified EMDR Therapist knows how to take you from where you were at the start of treatment, to where you wish to be at the end of treatment.

Need I say more? Let’s move on to Talk Therapy, shall we?

Talk Therapy

Before I adopted the sole focus of EMDR therapy in my practice, I was a talk therapist. Specifically, I was most intrigued and drawn to Existential Therapy (which is a form of Cognitive Therapy). For the purpose of this blog debate, I’m going to refer to “Talk Therapy” as “Existential Therapy,” “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy,” and “Psychoanalysis” (I’ll be sure to reference which form of therapy I’m referring to.)

First, a little history about Talk Therapy. Beginning of course with Psychoanalysis, everyone is familiar with Sigmund Freud (referred to as “The Father of Psychoanalysis”), who was mainly responsible for bringing the concept of “Talk Therapy” to bear as he called it, “The Talking Cure.” In its original form, Psychoanalysis consisted of the patient lying on a couch with the psychoanalyst sitting on a chair behind the patient’s head. The patient would continuously speak of whatever came into their unconscious mind (called Free Association), and the psychoanalyst would write everything down. The concept was that as the patient freely associated, their unconscious and unresolved issues (usually early childhood years) would become transferred onto the therapist (called “transference”), and the patient would transform their therapist into an important figure (usually a parental figure). The psychoanalyst would then analyze the transference and respond verbally with statements to hopefully elicit change in the individual.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has often been referred to as beginning with the Ancient Greek philosophy, Stoicism. These philosophers believed that through the use of logic, they could assist individuals with discarding certain belief systems and behaviours. If you’re interested in learning more of CBT’s early beginnings, I’m sure if you Google, “History of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy,” you’ll be sure to find some fascinating reading there…but I’m going to skip over significant amounts of history, in the interest of keeping this blog post fairly concise.

The basic idea behind CBT is that for every given moment, individuals act based upon a pattern of influence from their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Behaviour could drive a particular feeling, which would spark a thought; a thought could elicit a behaviour, which influences a feeling; a feeling may ignite a behaviour, and consequently thoughts afterwards; and so on. If one could identify the chain reaction of a particular problem in their life, this identification could give someone more control over the same situation again, should it arise in the future.

Take the following example: Imagine that I am struggling with the thought that “I am stupid.” I find myself feeling extremely afraid and ashamed of that thought. Then I follow that up with “…But I have a Master’s degree!!” I then end up depressed and don’t leave my house for weeks, except to get groceries, and go to and from work. CBT would examine the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and see how they all intersect. It would make sense that they each influence each other: I end up staying home to avoid having to “prove” my intelligence to others, saving myself from the feelings of shame should I “not measure up” to the expectations of others, which protects me from thinking “I’m stupid.” By identifying the belief of “I’m stupid,” and finding evidence that refutes that belief (such as having a Master’s degree), such action may influence my feelings of shame to reside and subsequently, allowing me the courage to “risk” social interaction again.

Here are some benefits

  1. Talk therapy provides a very open and exploratory avenue for clients to develop their awareness of their skills (or lack of skills). The therapist will gently encourage their client to lead themselves into their unknown, so that they can begin to build their awareness.
  2. The client generally does the majority of the talking in talk therapy, with the therapist asking a few poignant questions to help move the client along.
  3. When I worked as an Existential Therapist, I focused heavily upon challenging my client to build their awareness of their responsibility to choose how to respond to a particular challenge. While I did not offer solutions, my client often begun to recognize their options.
  4. Existential Therapy is a therapeutic focus which asks the “big questions” about life: If we are all free to make our own choices, what choices are you making right now? If your life is up to you to create meaning from, how are you taking an active role in that pursuit right now? Since nobody else can see through your eyes and see exactly what you see, you (and everyone else) how do you reconcile that deep loneliness?

Verdict

Gravel with Scale

So what’s the verdict? Can EMDR and Talk Therapy co-exist? Are they compatible? Is one better than the other?

In my opinion, EMDR and Talk Therapy can co-exist. While I do not believe that any form of Talk Therapy has the ability to eliminate a client’s source of suffering, I do think that Talk Therapy has a role to be played. One of these potential roles could be in preparing oneself for trauma processing. An EMDRIA Certified EMDR Therapist will always make sure that a client is ready to undergo trauma processing prior to engaging in that phase of treatment (clients at Grigore Counselling are never “tossed in the deep-end” without “knowing if you can swim”), thus talk therapy is useful to assess readiness, self-awareness, and emotional tolerance.

Another area where Talk Therapy is certainly useful is in therapeutic contexts which are not prototypical environments for EMDR, such as: couple’s counselling, divorce mediation, group work, career assessment, personality assessment, and for developing self-awareness. Those with minimal self-awareness experience tend to require longer EMDR treatment, and less processing occurs at the beginning due to preparing the client’s readiness. Since Talk Therapy is usually less expensive per hour, Talk Therapy can help prepare a client to be ready to finally eliminate the actual source of their suffering once and for all.

Personally speaking, I would much rather eliminate the source of my suffering, rather than spend too long on developing coping skills and practicing their uses, which ultimately requires a lot more money to be spent on the overall cost of treatment. However, I can definitely attest to the fact that it’s nice to have someone to just talk to from time to time – especially if social engagement is something that is lacking. Although a talking relationship is useful at times, the true change comes when the underlying memories which are causing the stress is eliminated.

EMDR is the only form of treatment that is provided at Grigore Counselling. We want to get you the maximum amount of healing in the shortest amount of time, so that you can go out and live your life the way you really want to.


Have any questions? Want to provide feedback? Ready for a free consultation? Please comment below, or send us an email! We’re happy to hear from you 🙂 And please feel free to share this post with anyone who might benefit!

With care and respect,

Robert A. Grigore, MCP, RCC

EMDRIA-Certified EMDR Therapist

EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Consultant

Owner of Grigore Counselling

www.GrigoreCounselling.com

info@GrigoreCounselling.com

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How I Know You NEED Therapy.

Yup, you heard me. I know you NEED therapy. But how do I know that? Simple. We all do. I don’t just mean some pie-in-the-sky “we all need to get along and be happy” nonsense; I mean that literally every human being is in need of deep therapeutic change. Without it, we are doomed to stay stuck, and not evolve as individuals.

The reason I can be so certain that we all NEED therapy, is the exact reason why I wrote the book, “You NEED Therapy. EMDR: Real People, With Real Problems, Getting Real Help.” After working in the field of psychotherapy for a relatively short period of time (approximately four years at the start of my book), I recognized that my growing suspicion was true: we are all wounded beings. However, it was only after adopting the disciplined psychotherapeutic approach of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and subsequently dedicating my life to healing trauma, did I realize that my suspicion was actually much more serious than I thought…

While the Mental Health Commission of Canada stated in 2016 that one in five Canadians (that’s 6.7 million people) experienced a mental health disorder or complaint, I would argue that the number is actually much higher. This is only people who have actually in some way recorded their distress, either via public health records or through some kind of survey. How about all the people who didn’t seek help, or tell anybody about it? How about all those who suffer in silence, gritting their teeth, day-in and day-out, just hanging on until they get to some kind of relief…like making it to the weekend, or if they’re lucky enough, going on a vacation?

What’s actually more serious, and why I wrote the book You NEED Therapy. (and why I’m writing this blog post), is that I am rather certain that you are not an anomaly, and that you (just like I do), NEED therapy. If you do not take this acknowledgment seriously, I fear that you will continue to live your life repeating old patterns that are not allowing you to progress in your life–they keep you stuck, living chained to past ideologies and imprisoned in pain. These past negative ideologies (what we call in the EMDR world as “Negative Cognitions” or “Negative Beliefs”) keep you perhaps feelings “safe,” but they do not promote you to grow–they keep you stuck. I touch a little bit more about these in a bit.

As an EMDRIA-Approved Certified EMDR Therapist, I can tell you that everybody you come across is experiencing some sort of emotional and/or psychological distress–they just might hide it better than others. To qualify as someone who “experiences mental health distress,” you simply need to experience difficulties in some manner in your life: maybe you notice feeling anxious in social situations, during conflict with your spouse, or thinking about dating, or maybe you notice that you’ve been feeling really tired, drained, stressed out, and have had a lower mood lately; or maybe it’s something where you know that you’ve experienced a traumatic incident and you haven’t been the same since (etc.). Just because you may not be suffering from uncontrollable nightmares, delusions, or find yourself banging your head against the wall, doesn’t mean that you’re not suffering. If you are experiencing nightmares, and banging your head against the wall, hopefully that’s a sign that you should call me 😉

In my book You NEED Therapy. EMDR: Real People, With Real Problems, Getting Real Help, I expose the truth about trauma: that everyone has experienced a trauma–you included. In fact, I’m quite certain that you’ve experienced several traumas. Unfortunately for many, if the trauma they experienced isn’t “severe enough” (like a car accident or a terrorist bombing), they don’t think they are a trauma-survivor. That’s simply not true. We are all trauma survivors.

Trauma can occur at any time in your life. It needn’t be that you survived a hurricane, or assault, it can be much more subtle than that. For example: if you grew up in a family atmosphere where you were constantly made to feel insignificant, small, or unimportant; or perhaps your family moved around a lot; or maybe you were bullied on the school yard; or it was difficult to have your voice heard among your friends; over time, these “smaller traumas” fester and grow into negative beliefs. A negative belief is a quiet voice that you hear in the “back of your mind” that makes comments about yourself, and for which actually feel true to you. I’m not talking about auditory hallucinations–most of us don’t actually hear the voice, but if you do, that’s OK too. As an example, following the order of the example of what could constitute as “smaller traumas”, the corresponding negative beliefs may be: “I don’t matter,” “I cannot relax or feel safe,” “I’m weak,” “I am invisible,” or “I’m not good enough.” You get the picture.

My bet is that is that you too, have at least one negative belief that dampens your ability to experience the world and your life in it, to the degree that you dream of. These negative beliefs are often very difficult to spot at first, but once they are identified in session, usually the response is, “YES! That’s it!”

If you’ve been to see a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist before, you may have heard the term “negative belief” already. Some people are able to begin to change their lives, their approach to problems, and ultimately transform themselves with the awareness of their negative beliefs, their origins, and utilize effective coping strategies. However, many of my clients come to see me after having tried all of that, and are still stuck, are still struggling to change their negative life patterns. That’s where EMDR gets me excited!

While EMDR also identifies these negative beliefs, EMDR goes further than that. EMDR eliminates them. In EMDR treatment, the goal is not to just learn coping strategies (although that happens at the start), the goal is to completely eliminate the distress–thereby eliminating the need for a negative belief. That also means there is no need for the coping strategy after all, because there’s nothing to have to “cope” with.

You might be wondering, “Well, how does the distress become eliminated? And how does the negative beliefs change?” In my book, You NEED Therapy. EMDR: Real People, With Real Problems, Getting Real Help, I completely answer that question.

In my short book, I outline the role of anxiety in our lives, how and why we experience trauma, and why trauma is the single reason for your difficulty with moving forward in your life. When the trauma is addressed, healed, and reprocessed, the brain has no reason to hang on to the negative beliefs, and you will be free to adopt a more pleasant belief about yourself (like, “I am lovable,” “I am worth it,” “I am safe,” “I can handle my emotions,” “etc.”).

In less than 100 pages, you will understand how traumatic experiences (big or small) make your brain function in a different way than how your brain would operate under “normal” and non-stressful situations. You will learn how information that is stored during the time of trauma, becomes locked inside, and triggers you to respond to current situations just like you did during the time of the earlier trauma. You will also discover how EMDR is your answer to healing that trauma, and how this incredible therapy can free you from your negative life patterns, allowing you to become the “You” you’ve always dreamed of (or were too scared to dream of!).

In just a few hours (and a light read by the way), you’ll have a clear understanding of what EMDR is, how it works, and why it works so well and quickly. You will discover many cases and studies of how EMDR completely eliminated symptoms of mental health distress (not just managed the symptoms). You’ll even discover how to find the right EMDR therapist for you, and once you have him or her, how to get the most out of each of your sessions. Finally, you will have answers to 11 frequently asked questions about EMDR, like: Does EMDR hurt? How long is treatment? What does EMDR feel like? And more…

If you would like to know more, check out this link to my book on Amazon!

$1 of each sale of my book is donated to The Gregarious Fund–an initiative that assists low-income individuals with the financial resources to receive professional-level counselling treatment.


With care and respect,

Robert A. Grigore, MCP, RCC (#12316)

EMDRIA Certified EMDR Therapist

EMDRIA Approved EMDR Consultant

Owner of Grigore Counselling

www.GrigoreCounselling.com

info@GrigoreCounselling.com

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5 Easy Ways to Boost Stress Tolerance

Hey there! You know what it feels like to be stressed right? Of course you do! But what if I told you that on top of the regular stresses involved in your daily life, you may be engaging in some unhealthy habits which actually lower your ability to handle stress? Naturally, I’ve got you covered with 5 proven strategies to boost your stress tolerance.

1. Sleep.

The number one way to boost your stress tolerance is to get a good night’s #sleep. There’s a whole bunch of glorious things that happen in your body while you sleep (like producing melatonin, allowing your muscles to repair themselves after the previous day’s activities and to prepare them for tomorrow, and consolidating learning from the day’s experiences, and so much more).

If you do not take your sleep seriously, then I’m afraid your health will suffer–not just that you’ll feel less capable of being energetic, but your mental health will suffer too. Without good sleep, you can look forward to feeling lethargic, foggy, slow, sore, irritable…you get the idea.

Researchers have long since connected the benefits of a good night’s sleep with increasing your tolerance for stress. The more sleep you get the larger your window for stress tolerance gets.

Here’s a few tips for getting a better night’s sleep:

  • Spend 30 minutes or more before you finally lay your head to bed, where you do NOT engage with anything stressful. This is actually harder than it seems for many people until they get used to this routine.
  • Do not watch TV or any screen for at least 30 minutes before bed. This is because the blue hue in the screen’s pixels are interpreted by the brain as being sunlight, and the brain begins to produce cortisol instead of melatonin (that means it begins waking up instead of going to sleep). If you absolutely MUST watch something while you fall asleep, then I recommend using “night mode” on your device (removes the blue hue).
  • A few hours before bed, begin to change the lighting in your home to softer or dimmer lighting. Same as the blue hue issue, bright lights shock the eyes a bit and triggers your brain to send a signal to your adrenal glands to produce cortisol to begin awakening.
  • Try light stretching, yoga, or meditating before climbing under the covers. Stretching actually produces dopamine and is a similar response (in the brain) as to what happens during sexual intercourse. Meditating as well as yoga can be relaxing for many people, and you may prepare yourself for sleeping more quickly and more deeply.
  • For more tips and tricks for sleeping better, check out my Facebook or YouTube pages!

2. Exercise

I know…I know…#exercise is always recommended to improve mental health and improve your ability to handle stress, and there’s a reason it’s always recommended: it works…most of the time. But there’s two sides to every coin though right?

Right. On one hand, exercise provides incredible boosts of energy if you consistently raise your heart rate to a safe level, and then replenish your body with the appropriate kinds of nutrients post-workout (amino acids, proteins, etc.). The more this habit is engaged with, the more able your body is to repeat the action. While I’m certainly not a personal trainer myself, I do find that drastically changing my exercise routine has a pronounced effect on my stress levels and mental health functioning. If I consistently exercise (say 3 to 5 times a week) and then suddenly stop for a prolonged period of time (no exercise the next week), I feel much more sluggish and tired.

For those who suffer from trauma symptoms like panic and high anxiety, exercise is actually a great way to demonstrate to the brain that you are “not in danger,” “strong,” and “in-control.” During high stress, we shift into fight/flight/freeze mode, and doing something as simple as running on the spot indicates to your brain that you are “escaping the danger.” Trauma is a tricky issue because, even if your “logical mind” knows that you are not actually in danger, there may be another aspect of your emotional self that feels like you might be–going for a run or hitting a punching bag is highly recommended in these situations. (Also, if you have an old printer that you can safety demo, that is just good old fashioned fun…I hate printers sometimes…)

OK. You were waiting for that “other side of the coin” right? Here it is: if you are suffering from high stress and especially if you are one or those people who experience prolonged stress (who isn’t these days…am I right?), you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue.

Working with a nutritionist over the previous summer, my partner and I discovered that we were both experiencing adrenal fatigue–supported by hormonal saliva tests (being honest with you, I wasn’t engaging in as much self-care as I should have been)! The nutritionist suggested that we actually cease exercising for a couple of months while we focus upon eating and sleeping better. After we got our diet in check and sleep back on schedule, exercise was incorporated back into the fold.

Now, since I’m also not a nutritionist nor a medical expert, I cannot recommend that you cease exercising. So this isn’t an excuse to skip the gym! One of my colleagues actually turned down her nutritionist because she couldn’t imagine her life without exercise! There’s no right or wrong way to exercise, so even light walking can help.

3. Diet.

Eating a balanced #diet throughout the day is absolutely recommended to maintain your ability to tolerate stress. While this suggestion isn’t quite a “booster” for stress, it certainly can help to avoid the dreaded 3:00 pm crash!

Because your body’s blood sugar level is its natural method of maintaining energy, making sure that you get enough fats, protein, and carbs (emphasis on “enough” meaning…not too much) is recommended to maintain your body’s ability to face stress as it comes. If you are already low on energy, and then more stress comes your way, it’s going to be a lot worse than if you have enough natural energy stored up and ready to be consumed to face the challenge. Think “prevention” instead of “relief.”

I always make sure that I have some form of protein in my office bag or desk to ensure that I have my protein between 2:00 and 3:00 pm, and I usually carry coconut oil in my office bag to add to my coffee to make sure I have my fat to balance my sugar levels. Yes, I still drink coffee…can you imagine stopping coffee?? NO way!

4. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Too much #alcohol can negatively impact the body’s ability to withstand stress the following day. Of course, if you’ve ever had a #hangover, then you know what I’m talking about. Well, the next day, your body is struggling to recover its electrolytes and depleted neurotransmitters that it exhausted while you were out escaping yesterday’s stress.

I’m not telling you never to drink again, but maybe just a regular glass or two of wine instead of a couple of double gin and tonics eh? Naturally, the benefits of sharing a bottle of wine with some close friends, adds stress-relief in the form of social cohesion and belonging–powerful aids in boosting your ability to tolerate stress.

5. Organization

Organization is so important for so many reasons. If you maintain your work space, home space, and personal schedule in an organized manner, your can expect a significant boost in your ability to tolerate stress.

When we are aware of “what’s coming” we can prepare psychologically for it. If we’re so busy and buried under a sea of clutter, when a new stressor comes our way, we are likely to miss it, or simply become overwhelmed.

Let’s break organization down into the above-mentioned three categories:

  • Work space organization means a few things. First, you’ll want to maintain a clean and compartmentalized space (just as the woman in the photo above is displaying). Her mind is much more likely to be focused when she is not seeing a bunch of clutter out of the corner of her eye. Second, many people report feeling more creative when there’s physical space opened up–this promotes psychological expression. Do these two things effectively (and assuming you actually like where and for whom you work) you’re likely to say #ilovemyjob just as this woman in the picture apparently loves her job.
  • Home Space organization is critical too. If you leave your home space cluttered and unorganized, then a.) you are spending your time in relative chaos and are likely to feel stressed in that environment, and b.) when you return from work, you will be challenged to effectively “leave work at work” as your nervous system will be responding to the work from stress with the stress from home.
  • Personal schedule organization is listed last here, because it applies to both home and work. When consciously take the time to spread your daily tasks into appropriate chunks, it is much easier to maintain motivation for completing tasks, and it is far more likely that you will not become overwhelmed. If you are working on a huge task, break it down into little “chunks” so that your time periods are effectively used. This idea is also called #chunking.

What should be occurring during all of these areas in your life, is the necessity for taking breaks. I’m not talking about siestas every 15 minutes, but something that works for your body. For example, every hour of work, take a two or three minute break to get a glass of water or go for a few steps to stretch your legs. Improving blood flow, hydration, and modifying what your eyes are looking at, are all great ways to improve your stress tolerance because your body functions better.

So if your boss asks you why you aren’t at your desk working right now, say that you are processing information to improve your work-efficiency!

I look forward to you boosting your stress tolerance with these 5 Easy Tips to Boost Stress Tolerance. Feel free to drop me a line if you’re interested in chatting, want to leave a comment, or would like a free consultation. I’m happy to connect!

With care and respect,

Robert A. Grigore, MCP, RCC #12316

Owner & EMDRIA-Certified EMDR Therapist & Approved Consultant

www.GrigoreCounselling.com

info@GrigoreCounselling.com

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STOP Procrastinating. Sooner Rather than Later.

Ever put off something for “later,” and then “later” never comes? Do you ever get started on something and then are easily distracted? And then you’re distracted again, and again…soon you forget what you first started doing?

Do these patterns make you feel proud? How about clever? Probably not. Usually, people struggling with procrastination are not fond of this tendency they find themselves repeating this pattern over, and over again…and they feel powerless to stop it.

Often procrastination isn’t just defined in one area of life…it’s present in multiple areas, such as: work, family life, relationship responsibilities, household chores, financial planning, children’s education funds, etc. You name it, you can procrastinate on doing it.

At the heart of most procrastinators is the fear of failure, fear of success, and/or the impossible desire to be perfect.

Although there is something I call “Productive Procrastination,” it’s not exactly a consolation prize.

Productive Procrastination is when one puts off a really big or important task and in the meantime, accomplishes all sorts of smaller tasks.

For example: the person putting off spring cleaning in order to meal prep for the upcoming week. Or the employee who delays working on that big deal in order to catch up on missed work from the previous week.

Productive Procrastination is in fact useful, but it doesn’t feel all that great when the big task is still yet to be completed.

Many answers to procrastination are usually goal-oriented and seeks to improve the individual’s productivity or remove barriers to completing tasks.

I don’t usually think this is the answer.

If the individual is indeed struggling with procrastination because they fear failure, success, or believe they need to be perfect, then there is usually one or more negative beliefs about the self. These negative beliefs could be: “I’m not good enough,” “I cannot succeed,” “I will fail,” “I don’t deserve ___,” “I am bad,” “I need to be perfect,” etc.

When these beliefs remain unprocessed, the individual is triggered by any situation which elicits the unconscious or conscious repeating of this negative statement about the self….and moreover, how that negative belief feels inside the body.

Often, the procrastinator will find that they “somehow” end up starting the task “too late,” so it therefore is impossible to have been completed to their true personal standard…yeah…”somehow” is really “unconsciously clever.”

So the big question is: “How do I ever STOP procrastinating?” Right??

Well the answer is really quite simple: you target the negative belief(s) about the self that hold that behaviour in place, and you do that with EMDR.

Because EMDR works on a three-pronged level, often, the individual will be lead to where the original roots of the behaviour, negative belief, and feelings first began. The origin may make sense, or it might be unclear as to its connection with the current problem behaviour. Regardless, it becomes neutralized and the task for the EMDR therapist and the client is to move on through the individual’s history, and other memories responsible for the distress.

This is a good point to stress here: EMDR works by targeting specific memories, not just the behaviour. This is because the maladaptive information is stored in the forms of memories. Once the memories are no longer distressing, the memories can be seen in a positive light, and the individual is free to adapt themselves to the challenges of the present. Without this approach, some part of the individual is stuck operating with old tools (old patterns of behaviour that are no longer useful).

Anyway, before too long, the work turns to current situations that are troublesome, and the individual (having let go of the source of the original distress already), easily drops the unwanted behaviour. Shortly thereafter, the work turns to the future where the client is asked to imagine one or more future scenarios where they would like to no longer procrastinate.

The results are seemingly magical.

EMDR removes the individual’s barriers that are contributing to procrastination, and allows their own unique strengths, resiliency, and creativity to be unleashed. It’s truly an amazing process.

If you are interested in learning more, or would like to leave a comment, drop me a line in the comment box, or reach me below:

With care and the utmost respect,

Robert A. Grigore MCP, RCC #12316

EMDRIA-Certified EMDR Therapist

EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Consultant

Owner of Grigore Counselling

www.GrigoreCounselling.com

info@GrigoreCounselling.com

www.allmylinks.com/EMDRRobertGrigore

www.facebook.com/EMDRRrobertGrigore

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Free Yourself from Addiction with EMDR

If you’ve ever struggled with the clutches of addiction before, you will know personally how tight it can grip you…and how it never wants to let you go.

Some days you feel that you’re in complete control…other days, you feel that you have zero ability to resist your temptations.

Sometimes when you’re going good, it takes just a little skip in your stride for it all to come tumbling down. Sometimes the “going good” is enough to make it start to “go bad” again. Never mind any holiday or excuse to get wrecked–the “addicted mind” can rationalize its use for anything.

It doesn’t matter if you’re addicted to sex, alcohol, cocaine, gambling, shopping, methamphetamine, heroin, work, or working out–addiction is addiction, is addiction. And it can ruin your life.

This blog post will cover 3 important areas:

1. Why people use a substance or engage in the problem behaviour.

2. Why EMDR is my preferred method for treating addiction (*hint because it works) and NOT a 12-step model.

3. How EMDR can help (WAY faster than one might think).

1. Why People Use a Substance or Engage in Problem Behaviours.

According to the AIP Model of Change (Adaptive Information Processing Model of Change), individuals use for two reasons: avoidance or connection.

A.) Avoidance.

They experience first an extremely uncomfortable emotion (say anger, grief, hopelessness, etc.), and they have learned to “manage” that discomfort by using a substance or engaging in a behaviour.

The individual notices a reduction in the intensity or the elimination of the distress in the emotion, and the brain essentially tells the individual, “Good job, you figured out how to survive that distress.” (Emotional distress to the brain is experienced very much the same as physical distress.)

Each time that same distress is experienced, the brain “triggers” the same survival strategy it used to avoid that pain in the past–in this case the substance or behaviour.

This “strategy” to avoid the distressing feeling will “work” for different amounts of time for each person, but eventually, the addiction will “win” and the individual’s life will begin to suffer in some unacceptable way (this generally makes the individual experience shame or guilt). This new added layer of distressing emotion becomes another “trigger” to use. And on, and on, and on the cycle goes: the individual experiences distress and they seek out the substance or engage in the behaviour in hopes that they will be able to avoid the distressing feeling.

B. Connection.

The second reason that individuals use or engage in problematic behaviours is to actually confront a difficult emotion that they otherwise cannot connect with.

Because the emotion or feeling is experienced as threatening in some way to the individual while sober (either they are afraid of the consequences, or they feel they lack the ability to effectively experience it), the addiction or behaviour provides a “buffer” or “gateway” for the individual to experience the emotion.

Thus, the addictive substance or behaviour is used as a “tool” to help the individual unlock their otherwise “hidden” ability to feel the emotion.

Unfortunately, the individual’s desire to connect with their feelings become a trigger to use or act in their addiction. Shame and/or guilt quickly become added distress to the

emotional equation, and then the addiction begins to become something entirely more destructive.

2. Why EMDR is my preferred method for treating addiction and NOT a 12-step model.

O.K., first thing’s first. If you or someone you know is receiving help from a 12-step model of addiction management, that’s really great. I certainly recommend to keep with what’s working for you.

However, in my humble (and somewhat informed) opinion, the 12-step model of addiction recovery is really about “addiction management.” While the social support element of most 12-step programs is really “second to none,” it’s simply not enough.

Most individuals who rely solely upon this type of treatment for their addiction, often describe that their urges to use rarely subside, and typically, their triggers also do not abate. I imagine individuals “white-knuckling” their way through their life, resigned to remain in a battle between their “good” and their “bad” choices.

Inevitably, the addiction will win occasionally (certainly more often at first), and from my professional experience, I have noted that many 12-step philosophies regard relapse as “failure,” and this causes many to experience shame.

If you remember from above, “shame” is one of the consequences of using, as well as it being an uncomfortable emotion that individuals are often trying to avoid. Feeling intense emotional discomfort tends to trigger a relapse. To me, I see this form of treatment as disempowering.

Enter EMDR.

EMDR treatment for addiction is revolutionary–not only in the speed for which it works, but in the quality of the treatment. Since A.J. Popky first began utilizing EMDR to treat individuals with addiction issues with his DeTUR Model of treatment, the scope of how EMDR can effectively be used to free people of their addictions has grown considerably. Robert Miller and his Feeling State Addiction Protocol is a great example of this.

One of the first things that an EMDR therapist will tell their new client when he or she is entering treatment for addiction, is that the goal of treatment does not have to be abstinence. If the client’s goal is to abstain from their addiction completely, than that is the clinician’s goal as well. But if the client is looking for more control over their behaviour, then that is the clinician’s goal too.

Relapse is regarded as completely normal and not a reflection of the individual’s worth. For example: there are plenty of people in the world who smoke cigarettes and are good people; likewise, there are also plenty of people in the world who smoke and are very nasty people; whether the person smokes or not, is not the determining factor of their worth.

While outside support for addiction is seen as useful for treatment, it is not the focus—eliminating the addictive urges, or the desired feeling that the addiction produces, is the focus.

Let me repeat that: eliminating the urges or the desired feeling to use or engage in the problematic behaviour is the focus of treatment.

EMDR treatment for addiction is the real deal. We aren’t talking about masking the problem with a fancy motto or strict routine, nor are we talking about trading one unhealthy addiction for a “healthier addiction.” No. We’re talking about eliminating the underlying reasons for the addiction.

Look, people don’t wake up one morning and all-of-a-sudden say to themselves, “I think I’m going to become an addict today…” People become addicted to something because the addiction provides them with something that they are otherwise missing: relief, positive feelings, positive states, avoidance of distress, ways of coping, etc.

Anything can become addictive.

And any addiction can be treated with EMDR.

3. How EMDR can help (WAY faster than one might think).

For those who are used to working only with CBT, 12-step models, or psychological medications, treatment for addiction can take considerable time…sometimes even a lifetime. That’s a heck of a long time for me to imagine struggling with addiction. In that amount of time, one could lose their job, their marriage could fall apart, heck they could even kill themselves.

EMDR can help in a matter of sessions. Not years.

With Popky’s DeTUR Protocol, individuals can expect to identify their goals for treatment (the underlying reasons for why they want to undergo treatment…hint* it’s NOT just to be free of the addiction…it’s something greater than that). Afterwards, the individual is lead through some exercises to experience the true possibility of this change. Next, together with the clinician, the client’s focus of treatment will be either the future goal, the specific triggers which elicit the urge to use, or underlying traumatic events (i.e. the real reason for the addiction).

If the addiction first began due to some horrible event that was never worked through, then working through that issue becomes a primary focus (either at the start of treatment or later if that’s the time when the event surfaces in treatment).

Usually there is one or more negative belief about the person that needs to be identified and worked through, along with the addictive triggers.

With Miller’s Feeling State Addiction Protocol, the focus of treatment is actually on the desired positive feeling state that engaging in the addiction produces in the individual.

That’s right. Treatment begins by identifying what the individual gets out of engaging in the behaviour or using the substance. This is usually a positive feeling (such as relief, excitement, joy, belonging, etc.) and positive belief about the self (such as, “I’m loved,” “I am ok,” “I’m a winner,” etc.).

Just as overwhelming negative events can become locked in “state-specific form” in the brain, and need to be worked through with EMDR, overwhelmingly positive events can become locked in the brain as well. It’s these positive events (the feeling and belief about the self) that need to be worked through with EMDR.

Miller discovered that if treatment focuses upon lowering the intensity of the positive feelings that the individual receives while engaging in the addiction, then the underlying negative beliefs about the self begin to surface. Treatment then focuses on the negative beliefs, and afterwards, upon installing positive beliefs about the self instead.

Both Miller’s and Popky’s treatments focus upon installing healthier states and behaviours when needed. Both regard relapse as important information that becomes material to be worked through in treatment. Both treatments work faster than traditional talk-therapy, and 12-step programs. Both treatments are geared towards helping the individual attain the level of control he or she wants in life. Both treatments are recommended by me.

I wish you, or your loved one a healthy, speedy transformation.

____________________

If you enjoyed this post, please share with your friends! Like and/or comment, I love hearing your thoughts 🙂

With care and respect,

Robert A. Grigore, MCP, RCC,

EMDRIA-Certified EMDR Therapist

EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Consultant

Owner of Grigore Counselling

www.GrigoreCounselling.com

info@GrigoreCounselling.com

www.allmylinks.com/EMDRRobertGrigore

www.facebook.com/EMDRRrobertGrigore

www.instagram.com/EMDRRobertGrigore

www.twitter.com/EMDRGrigore

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EMDR: Your TICKET to a “Better You.”

Yup. You heard me. This could be the most important blog post you read this year, maybe even in your life…

If you’re someone who feels as if you’re not completely satisfied with your life, or you have some obvious area(s) of stress or discomfort in your day-to-day existence, keep reading, this post is for you. If you are someone who feels completely content and lead an amazingly fulfilled and meaningful life, then maybe this isn’t for you…but I’m betting that you know of someone who might benefit from this. So please allow me a few minutes to give you some knowledge that could change your life, or someone else’s.

I’m a trauma therapist, and I work with an approach to therapy called, EMDR (short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). This approach has literally changed my life, and continues to change the lives of many, many, many…many of my clients. Most of whom do not come into my office with obvious “trauma” to work through. Yet these people change their lives for the better with minimal therapy time (compared to other forms of therapy), as long as they show trust and commitment to the process. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to join them on their healing journey–and I am especially grateful to help them transcend their previously set, conscious or unconscious limiting beliefs.

By the way, if this is your first time being introduced to EMDR, I encourage you to also read my other post: WTF is “EMDR”? and/or check out the videos on my website!

The question I am asked most about my counselling practice, and my inspiration for this blog post, is: “Can EMDR be used for more than just trauma?” The short answer is YES, and the longer answer is still, YES.

Many people are surprised when they first learn that EMDR can be used to treat almost any constellation of psychological and emotional symptoms, as well as treat some physical symptoms. This is because EMDR works by correcting deep-seeded issues which have cognitive, emotional, as well as bodily elements. It’s amazing how connected the mind and body really is! After all, emotions are felt in the body.

So just what can be helped via EMDR treatment?

The Physical

Believe it or not, many issues like: headaches and migraines, back, neck, and muscle pain can be healed through EMDR, and some more serious chronic pain conditions like: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain (see my other article: 10 Signs Your Pain May Be Trauma-Based for more info). The ability for EMDR to work with all sorts of somatic ailments (even if they are not quite defined) is exceptional.

I discovered the link between “physical” and “emotional” memories as a massage practitioner many years ago. I would perform deep-tissue treatments on individuals and they would often experience the resurfacing of long-forgotten traumatic memories. At first I wondered what I had done to my clients! Now that I’m a trauma therapist, I see the connection.

This is important for those who find themselves seeking frequent medical attention (i.e. the doctor’s office, emergency rooms, chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, etc.) and don’t find substantial and lasting relief. If you ever feel discomfort in your body and you’re unsure of why that is, or you’re sure but you feel stuck in what to do about it, I encourage you to connect with me either directly, or through the “comments section” below, or to find another EMDR therapist.

To be clear: I am not suggesting that you stop receiving your regular medical attention, what I am suggesting is that you consider treating your health (body and mind) as a complete package.

Emotional

EMDR is great for working with individuals on the emotional level. This tends to be so because many memories include a somatic element, and emotions are felt in the body. Even if the individual doesn’t quite know the emotional significance of something they are feeling, working with an EMDR therapist can assist in not just identifying the emotion, but also learning to control it. And yes…you do have emotions.

Limiting, Negative Self-Beliefs

Do you ever struggle with negative beliefs about yourself, or self-criticism? If you do, then you’re not alone. These statements could be things like: “I can’t do this,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m unlovable,” “I am a failure,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m bad,” “I’m broken,” “I’m unworthy, ” etc. I can honestly say that I’ve never met one person (who’s not a psychopath or a sociopath…) who hasn’t struggled with negative self-beliefs. We all have them, we all suffer from them, and we can all overcome them (…unless you’re a psychopath or a sociopath).

Psychological

Of course, EMDR was originally designed to treat “psychological disorders,” such as “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, however, over the past 30+ years EMDR has been expanded to treat a wide range of psychological disorders. These could include: phobias, panic attacks, depression, other mood disorders (such as: Bi-Polar I, and Bi-Polar II), impulsive disorders, as well as those struggling with substance, or behavioural addictions (such as: gambling, and sex addiction).

EMDR is also effective in working with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, eating disorders, various attachment disorders, as well as Borderline Personality Disorder. There is also hope for those suffering from the debilitating effects of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. EMDR is also extremely beneficial in working with complex forms of PTSD, and dissociative disorders (including Dissociative Identity Disorder).

I know first-hand how difficult some of these issues can be to experience in one’s life. I’ve struggled with various sorts of addictions throughout my life (without really knowing it half the time), and addiction is one of those things that feels incredibly powerful to overcome. Guess what? There’s great hope. It’s called “EMDR.”

EMDR is also extremely effective in eliminating procrastination, writer’s block, and a whole “laundry list” of other performance issues. Performance issues could be anything from writing a test, to hitting a Major League fastball, or nailing a Hollywood scene…really, the “sky’s the limit” (think of this form of treatment as “performance enhancement”…but it’s legal!).
EMDR can also be used to treat nightmares and sleep disorders (anyone stay up watching Netflix too much?). The list of what EMDR can do, is just about limitless.

So, what do you do next?

I recommend that if you’ve noticed yourself experiencing any similar distress, or even if it’s something that I haven’t mentioned (and that could be a lot ;), I recommend asking a question in the comment box, sending a private message on my Facebook page (Grigore Counselling), or simply sending me an email to connect with me (info@grigorecounselling.com).

I always love to help people, and consider it a sacred honour to be in the position I am. If you’re serious about changing your life for the better, or you know that you’re just not quite satisfied with your life, I encourage you to contact someone and get some help–remember, getting help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of maturity and strength.

____

With care and respect,

Robert A. Grigore MCP, RCC (#12316)

EMDRIA-Certified EMDR Therapist

EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Consultant

Owner of Grigore Counselling

www.GrigoreCounselling.com

info@GrigoreCounselling.com

www.allmylinks.com/EMDRRobertGrigore

www.facebook.com/EMDRRrobertGrigore

www.instagram.com/EMDRRobertGrigore

www.twitter.com/EMDRGrigore

www.tiktok.com/@EMDRRobertGrigore

www.linkedin.com/in/EMDRRobertGrigore