Expressive Art: Creating Your Lifeline
The expressive art exercise called LifeLine is a positive tool in the therapy room. Getting an overview of your life can be a first step step towards self understanding and self acceptance.
David came in to see me because he had experienced a panic attack at work. The intensity of the physical and emotional feelings scared him.
Happy reading! Thank you to my loving readers for visiting my humble blog!
Last week, we discussed the story of Betty’s traumatic birth here. This week, we’ll discuss Betty’s healing plan from a traumatic birth. Betty ‘s husband helped her find a therapist who specialized in trauma and perinatal mood disorders by using Google and looking through Psychology Today profiles. Betty was fortunate in that she had babysitting assistance from her mother and mother-in-law. Betty also was able to take extend time off from work, as she had been steadily employed at the same company for many years, her work was well respected and she had an understanding supervisor. Not all woman have these options. Betty knew this and she was grateful for the foundation that she had in place.
Betty approached her first visit with her therapist with trepidation. Betty was cautious. Like many trauma survivors, she didn’t want to endlessly talk about her trauma, because, somehow, talking about the incident felt like it might be re-traumatizing to her. But she was feeling bad and she was curious about the new trauma treatments called Somatic Experiencing® (SE) and EMDR. She had researched EMDR and found there was 30 years of research supporting its efficacy, so she was hopeful.
One day, Dave was having a quiet day in his workshop. He was working on his model trains, his favorite hobby. He was looking at the tracks, the way the lines interweave all around the room. And he started to think about what he had seen a few months ago in his work as a police officer. He remembered what it was like to be the first responder to the scene of a suicide. The image of the suicide scene was riveting; it seemed burned into his brain and into his retina. In his workshop, he became very distressed and started to sweat. His stomach hurt, and felt nauseated. Tunnel vision occurred and he felt all consumed by this one moment in time. He couldn’t get out of himself. Suddenly there was a flood of intense emotions, his heart started to pound, his breathing was shallow and erratic thoughts overwhelmed him.
He stood up, trying to shake the swirl of emotions and intense body feelings, that seemed all mixed together. It was like his stomach hurt but it was all tied into his emotions, too. There was no line between the physical pain and the emotional pain; his emotions and his body feelings were all tied together. He pulled into himself and felt like no one could possibly understand what was happening to him. Intense fear gripped him and he felt like he was leaving his body.
“We use our minds not to discover facts but to hide them, One of the things the screen hides most effectively is the body, our own body, by which I mean, the ins and outs of it, its interiors. Like a veil thrown over the skin to secure its modesty, the screen partially removes from the mind the inner states of the body, those that constitute the flow of like as it wanders in the journey of each day. ” – Antonio Damascio, The Feeling of What Happens
When is it a good time for you to try EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a mindbody approach to therapy that’s effective with trauma and moving stuck emotional places. EMDR as a treatment modality, is best used with someone who is stable in his or her mental health treatment. For example, someone with untreated clinical depression needs to address the depression before beginning EMDR treatment. Or someone with bipolar disorder needs to be stable on their medication for at least six months prior to beginning EMDR treatment or a person struggling with addiction needs to be stable in recovery for at least a year before beginning EMDR treatment. Persons with complex trauma, such as persons subjected to ongoing childhood sexual abuse, should have a good understanding of their abuse before undertaking EMDR. EMDR is appropriate for persons who suffered a single incident trauma.
Why use EMDR?
I’m announcing the grand re-opening of my private psychotherapy practice.
I’ll be returning to my former location at:
1581 Route 23 South in Wayne, New Jersey
This article originally appeared in Postpartum Progress.
Cristi Motto Comes of Motherhood Unadorned are over at Postpartum Progress today talking about past sexual abuse and how it can affect the emotions of pregnancy, birth and postpartum.