• How Can EMDR Help Couples?

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    Most people have experienced trauma in their life.

    Unfortunately, this trauma can have a direct impact on relationships.

    It can make couples “stuck” and unable to solve their issues. As the symptoms of trauma manifest in defenses that were adaptive then, but maladaptive now. Such defenses usually make it so we don’t get what we really want – what we needed growing up and didn’t receive.

    We may be stuck in defense too much of the time and unable to be vulnerable with ourselves and our partner.

    EMDR can help get you unstuck!

    It can help the traumatized partner(s) have a better and softer relationship with themselves. This reduces their reactivity and traumatic symptoms, allowing them and their partner to access and utilize the tools they learn in couples therapy.

    EMDR can create the space in the relationship for corrective experiences and vulnerability.

    This isn’t to say that all trauma comes from before the relationship. Traumatic experiences can happen inside the relationship; a good example being infidelity.

    EMDR is useful in these situations after the work has been done around the infidelity and the hurt partner finds themselves continuing to be triggered, leaving them unable to move forward.

    I’ve seen this in my work.

    Recently, I had a client referred to me who was struggling with intrusive and obsessive thoughts around her partner’s infidelity. The infidelity had stopped, and her partner was fully committed. However, she was often getting stuck.

    We began to process her triggering around the infidelity. She began to have more space and began to obsess less about the incident.

    EMDR doesn’t eradicate the memory, but she learned to relate to this incident in a healthier way and learned to observe the pain instead of being back in it.

    Such positive outcomes of EMDR began to show up for her. This included reduced reactivity, increased ability to recognize thoughts and feelings, reduced aggression, increased empathy for self and others, and increased openness to intimacy, both emotional and physical.

    It’s not to say that they don’t need to continue to work at their relationship.

    As Terry Real says,

    “Intimacy is something you do, not something you have.”

    Having your partner support you through EMDR can foster further intimacy and understanding. It can be very helpful for a partner to see and realize that there is a source to all this pain, and it’s not them!

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