From Trauma to Liberation
Castle Craig therapist Suzanne Wagemans periodically shares what the work means to her and patients. Today she talks about the role of therapy and EMDR in the treatment of trauma:
I have been working in addiction care for more than eight years where I meet many people who have lost faith in humanity; who never had many, if any, people who were really there for them. My greatest strength as a therapist is that I am very involved with my patients; that I really try to be there for them. My treatments are personal when needed; professional proximity instead of professional distance. Finding the balance between these two remains an exciting balance for me.
A very addicted and traumatized man in his fifties came into treatment with me last October. We started working together on his trauma. Mapping this resulted in an enumeration of some forty traumatic events that had happened to him before he was eighteen years old. You felt his pain and helplessness in the room. Tears were in my eyes and I was happy to be there for him and that he felt safe sharing this.
We started with EMDR and occasionally made a trip to imaginary rescripting. This worked well for him. But the sessions were very intense. He was often completely upset and nauseated to the point of retching. But he felt it was working so he wanted to keep going. To handle it, he took a glass of alcohol a few times without telling me. He thought that otherwise he would not be able to handle these intense feelings. He was embarrassed but also grateful when I found out and we were able to discuss together how we could continue without the need for alcohol.
Last week he indicated that he is actually no longer bothered by his trauma; no nightmares, no re-experiences, he sleeps well. Together we took up the list of his traumas; the same list that he used to feel so much tension about and that he thought he would never be able to handle without alcohol. He looked at the list for a minute or two and began to cry. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said: "I don't feel anything anymore, all these events no longer evoke tension!"
This man has walked around with this burden for about 50 years and now he is free. "I no longer carry the world on my shoulders!" was his conclusion. Just like when I made the list, I too had tears in my eyes, but these tears were out of happiness and gratitude. I came to the conclusion again that I have the best profession in the world, where I can help someone free themselves from such a great burden.
Note: All our patient information is strictly confidential. An anonymous article is only shared after consultation with the patient.