Medically Unexplained Illnesses: It’s not just all in your head!


Having a stigmatized chronic illness can make it more challenging to cope with illness. This is an introduction to CFS, FMS, and MCS, all medically unexplained illnesses. Having compassion and greater understanding for people with these conditions, may help sufferers reduce their stress.


A Brief Introduction to Medically Unexplained Illnesses

Some chronic illnesses have specific titles, treatments and are much more easily understood by medical professionals. They have a consistent set of diagnostic criteria and so they are easy to diagnose, treat, and maintain. More research is done to find drugs and treatments that help with their treatment, and so while they are not curable, they are treatable and people can have a fairly decent quality of life with those illnesses. Some examples are diabetes, thyroid disease, osteoarthritis, and some psychiatric disorders like depression and Bipolar illness.

However, there are some illnesses, like Fibromyalgia (FMS), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), whose symptoms are not well-understood by medical professionals, and since those symptoms overlap with other disorders and don’t lend themselves well to specific diagnosis, they don’t get as much research funding and effort. Their causes are also not well understood either; hypnotheses include viruses, childhood trauma, injury, psychiatric disorders like depression and PTSD, chemical reactions gone awry, etc. The fact that the disorders are not well-understood does not mean that the disorders are any less distressing to sufferers. It also doesn’t mean that they are simply “psychosomatic” (i.e., psychiatric symptoms masquerading or perceived as physical disorders). There has been a great deal ofstruggle to gain legitimacy in the medical field for people who suffer Medically Unexplained Syndromes (MUPS), as people with these conditions have an added stress of not being believed by family, friends and medical professionals. If they could point to a well-defined diagnostic label like cancer or arthritis, they might have a chance to be believed by others. Some prominent medical researchers have suggested that these disorders are purely psychological, and that if they just got Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, they would be fine. However, as anyone who has coped with fatigue, joint pain, cognitive dysfunction (like poor memory and concentration), or extreme discomfort after chemical exposure can attest, it is not just “all in your head.” Other people demean MUPS symptoms as “just being lazy” or “the yuppy flu.”

Fibromyalgia is perhaps one of the relatively better-researched MUPS and is characterized by joint pain in 11 of 18 tender points on the body, fatigue, insomnia, and at times cognitive dysfunction, like mental “fogginess” that makes it hard to concentrate, focus, or remember things. Many people with Fibromyalgia are limited in what they can do, how they can move, and sometimes their employment opportunities and capacities are severely hampered by their symptoms. Similarly, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can negatively impact fulfilling social and occupational roles, and sometimes they have to apply for disability as they struggle to even achieve minimal activities of daily living. CFS has many similar symptoms to FMS (fatigue, cognitive problems, joint discomfort) but also have tender lymph nodes, flu-like symptoms, and “post-exertion malaise” which means that if they do too much during the day, they feel even worse for the next day to week. You may be able to see how this could interfere with holding down a job, raising children, having a social life, or running a household. While these disorders usually affect women, men can also be affected. Children and adolescents can become ill with CFS and FMS too, although it’s much rarer.  Most of the studies on CFS and FMS that have been done involve adults from 40-60 years old. It affects all socioeconomic statuses as well as ethnicities.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) is perhaps the most controversial of the MUPS and while it shares a few symptoms with FMS and CFS, it is more focused on negative reactions to exposure to chemicals in every day products. Some of those products include cigarette smoke, gasoline, solvents, perfume, clothing dyes, dryer sheets, cleaning agents, pesticides, and hairspray. People have a range of symptoms when exposed to these types of chemicals, including respiratory problems, skin rashes, headaches, cognitive problems, etc. people with FMS and CFS sometimes have sensitivity to smells, but it is not a defining feature of either of those conditions. Because there’ve been some studies where people failed to show increased sensitivity to certain agents in a laboratory, some medical professionals regard MCS as merely a psychosomatic illness. However, the reactions are real, cause physical and mental distress, and sufferers are not merely imagining what they experience. Instead of invalidating people’s experience, it seems more beneficial when doctors, friends, and workplaces can work with people who are sensitive to smells to make them comfortable, happy and productive. Other people might not perceive the same smells as threatening, because they get no physical reaction. However, there are number of factors that might contribute to some people’s extra sensitive reaction. I will address these factors in the next blog post.

This is been an overview of medically unexplained illnesses, which are often chronic and whose prognosis is often uncertain. Many of these illnesses overlap in symptoms, but the sufferers have very real struggles in meeting their life roles and functioning well. Hopefully, with more understanding, research, and compassion, we can make their experience a little better and a little less stressful. I will be writing about them more in future blog posts, in specific the link between psychological factors and physical symptoms of these illnesses.

Coping with Loneliness


Being alone doesn’t have to equate being lonely. There’s a distinction, and your interpretation of the state of being alone makes a big difference in your experience.


Lonely panda
Loneliness is a normal feeling, but we don’t have to dwell in it forever. A lot depends on what you tell yourself about being alone.

With the upcoming holiday, Valentine’s Day, much of the focus is on people who are involved with a loved one romantically or sexually. There is not very much attention paid to people who don’t have dates or romantic partners. People can feel pressured to either get into a relationship in order to not be lonely and be perceived as undesirable, or to feel inadequate because they are not romantically involved. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely, as Adrea Cope notes[i]. Being alone can be seen as a choice or a condition imposed upon a person by cruel circumstances. Loneliness is an emotional reaction to the state of being alone. It sometimes involves an element of grief about lost relationships or lost opportunities for being with people.

By contrast, one can view being alone as a choice or as a decision to be independent. Being alone is not necessarily a sign that you could not find a partner if you wanted one. Rather, it can be a deliberate choice to be autonomous, liberated, and free to live your life the way you want. Some of us experience being alone as a pleasurable experience, one they seek out to regulate the balance between being with others and being by themselves. Have you ever wanted to just have some “me” time?

Being alone can also be cleansing after a relationship that didn’t work out. I’ve seen a lot of clients rush into relationships after they break out because they don’t want to be perceived as “losers.” The implication is that if you’re alone, you can’t get a date. Sometimes it takes time to learn what went wrong in the last relationship. It also takes time to heal from the damage that relationship might have caused.

People who take the time to evaluate what went wrong, how they contributed to the demise of the relationship, and what they need to do now to grow and heal are well positioned to have a healthier relationship next time. It’s crucial to observe how you interpret your aloneness. What are you telling yourself about it? How are you interpreting it? That process of recognition and acknowledgment can make your alone time much more pleasant and productive. You can use journaling or meditation to explore what messages you’re sending yourself, and perhaps also open up to new ways of seeing your alone state. What self-valuing messages can you use to start replacing the criticism and pessimism?

There’s no rule saying you have to be in a relationship in order to be sexy, desirable, lovable, or a “winner.” In fact, some very likable, sociable, and interesting people are single, by choice. I believe it’s time we respected the diversity in people’s need or desire to be with another person. Some people feel very little need to be in a relationship and prefer solitude, while others have a strong desire and need to be in a relationship. The level of involvement is really up to each person, and I don’t think there’s a need to shame people for wanting what they want.

One caveat about being alone: Sometimes depressed people isolate, as do people who have Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, and at times, PTSD. It’s important to distinguish between preferring to be alone because you like your own company and feel comfortable enjoying life that way, and avoidance. It’s understandable to avoid being hurt, as you have been in the past. No one can fault you for that. However, it often is accompanied by emotional misery and time spent either in self-reproach or immobilized numbness. If that is the case, I encourage you to get psychiatric care. You don’t have to be in contact with people all the time, but the time you spend whether alone or with people should generally be at least neutral, if not pleasant. If it’s hard to be around people and/or yourself, there’s a good chance that some healing needs to happen, to restore you to normal interpersonal functioning.

In closing, being lonely is a state of mind that crosses everyone’s path from time to time. It doesn’t need to be a constant visitor, and the way we view other people and ourselves can make a big difference in how long and how strong we experience loneliness. If you are without a romantic partner this Valentine’s Day, I strongly encourage you to embrace it and see it as a chance to spend time with a cherished loved one: yourself!

[i] http://thoughtcatalog.com/adrea-cope/2014/04/the-difference-between-being-alone-and-being-lonely/

Psychiatrists Versus Psychologists


There’s a lot of confusion about what psychiatrists and what psychologists do. In the beginning of our profession, there was no distinction, really, because psychiatry was invented by a medical doctor, Sigmund Freud. As the years have worn on, however, the functions and duties have become separate. I would like to help clarify some of the differences.

Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have specialized training in psychiatry, namely treatment of diseases of the mind. Some psychiatrists still spend time talking to their patients at length about life’s problems and how to cope with them better. However, for whatever reason, they have a lot less time now, especially since managed care has become such a prevalent force in the mental health field. Unfortunately, their time has become more and more valuable and a lot of times they are in a hurry to treat as many people as possible. At is not their fault; it’s just how it is and a lot of communities. As a result, people sometimes go to psychiatrists and feel offended and hurt that the psychiatrist can’t spend a lot of time listening to their problems. This is unfortunate, because sometimes people didn’t want medication in the first place and were hoping to be heard and understood. This doesn’t mean that psychiatrists can hear and understand people, just that there focuses mostly on how the person is doing physically with their mental health condition. Psychiatrists spend most of the time evaluating the symptoms presented to them and how medication can address so symptoms. They can be true lifesavers if a person has a mental health condition that lends itself to medication. For instance, severe depression and bipolar disorder often require medication in order for the person to fully heal. Similarly, psychotic disorders like Schizophrenia require medication in order to have a productive, happy life.

Psychologists

Psychologists are experts in psychology. There are many different types. For instance, forensic psychologists work in the law and criminal justice capacities. They do evaluations, psychological testing, and write reports about their findings, as well as testify in court cases. Health psychologists specialize in helping people with medical conditions and do research on different topics, such as the role of stress and different diseases on mental processes. Clinical psychologists treat emotional and psychological illness by using psychotherapy and often work in conjunction with psychiatrists. This is what I do mostly, and I am very grateful to have the ability to collaborate with medical professionals when there are complex cases of mental disturbance. Not everyone who sees a psychologist needs medication or wants medication; some want to try psychotherapy before resorting to medication, and women who are breast-feeding often want to wait until they are no longer breast-feeding to try medication. I respect the desires and needs of the patient, that in cases where severe mental illness is present, I strongly recommend that people at least be evaluated by a psychiatrist. There are also things that people can do to help themselves feel better that don’t involve medication or talk therapy, and I encourage people to take care themselves as much is possible in order to be empowered and have a full, healthy life. For example, exercise can be and honestly helpful for depression and anxiety. Taking medication is not incompatible with exercise, meditation, yoga, good nutrition, or any other non-pharmacological interventions. If you choose to take the herbs or supplements, however you should check to make sure they don’t interfere with whatever medication you’re taking, whether it be psychiatric meds or medications for physical illness.

I hope this clears up some of the common misconceptions about what I do versus what a psychiatrist does. We still have a long way to educate the general public about how each can help people with emotional and psychiatric illness. However, hopefully this is a step in the right direction.

Equally Gifted, Equally Flawed


Here I am borrowing a phrase that my husband likes to use frequently. I like this phrase because it brings attention to the fact that we all have struggles, and things that we don’t like about ourselves, as well as areas where we truly shine and are gifted. We all suffer to some degree from judgment, whether it’s about ourselves or others. I think there’s a healthy balance between caring what other people think about us, and living our lives freely and joyfully without concern of others’ judgment.

In my practice I see a lot of people who have a great deal of anxiety about others’ opinion of them. Some people have panic attacks, others have social anxiety where their throat gets dry, they sweat, and the seal their heart palpitations in their chest. Others still have negative judgments that they assume others think about them, running through their heads. I understand that through evolution, we needed to belong to a herd or a pack in order to survive. There was a certain amount of conformity that needed to develop in order to promote cohesiveness. That part of our brains does not seem to have heard about appreciation of diversity, equal rights, or many of the newer social developments that have occurred in the world. People who are different or are seen as different from the majority are still regarded with distrust and in some cases, disgust. Some of us are more sensitive to the pressure of what other people think of us than others. Our brains haven’t adapted very well to the changes in society, where we embrace people who are different as innovators and creative thinkers. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t embrace our own selves and our differences as things that make us unique and special.

Something we can do for ourselves is check in periodically about how we feel about ourselves. They can do this through meditation, prayer, or just noticing what we say to ourselves about ourselves. But we noticed that others seem to disapprove of us, we can first asked if our perception is based in reality. For example, has the person actually said or done something disrespectful to us, or are we assuming that we know what they’re thinking? If they are saying or doing something disrespectful, is it hurting us? If it is, how badly is it hurting us? If you want you can rated on a scale of 1 to 10. If the pain is less than five, we can choose to let it go and just think that the other person doesn’t know what they’re missing by disregarding us. If it’s more serious, and it really causes us a lot of distress, we can assertively respond to it. However, depending on the relationship to that person, this requires a certain amount of finance and practice in order to avoid getting enough physical or verbal fight with the person.

Overall, I hope that we can become less sensitive to what other people think of us and more affirming of our own selves. This does not mean we have to become arrogant and insensitive to all feedback from other people. We don’t want to be conceited or obnoxious. The healthiest, happiest people I know have a blend of humility and confidence in their character and what they know they do well. Some people seem to be lucky and bored with that confidence; but that doesn’t mean it can’t be developed. I encourage you to work on that if you feel vulnerable to what other people think and say about you. You may have some gifts and talents that you could share with the world, that may not be readily apparent on the surface. Let your Shine and your flaws be invitations for personal growth.

Don’t let fear boss you around


What prevents you from keeping resolutions? Fear of the unknown is often a main culprit. Don’t let it win this year.


The main holidays have passed by and there’s only one left, the holiday that makes people hopeful and determined to change their lives: New Years Day! I’m not sure why this particular day was chosen as the beginning of the year, but it has and we often make promises to ourselves and others about how we’re going to change for the upcoming year. Commonly, the promises involve change in behavior — doing more of or less of something. But when it comes time to keeping these promises, we sometimes give up when it gets hard to keep the promise. At that point, it’s not really a promise that we’ve made at all; just a mild suggestion to ourselves. It can be discouraging if we keep having resolutions and then not following through with them, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t change that pattern from this point forward.

One of the things that keeps people from making changes in their lives, even if we know that the change is necessary and will improve our lives drastically, is FEAR. It’s not necessarily rational that we fear positive change, but we do anyway. For example, if we want to lose weight, we have to give up some things in order to get the desired result. It’s not so much about giving up particular foods themselves that invokes fear, but relinquishing the status quo. Even though the status quo may be uncomfortable and unhealthy, it is familiar. And we like keeping our equilibrium, even if it hurts us.

How many times have you made a suggestion to a friend, saying something like “Hey, why not giving up doing drugs/drinking too much/going out with mean people/etc?” only to have them say, “Yeah, but…”? We are afraid to give up what we know because we like to be in control of things. And what could be more out of control than trying something new? We don’t know in advance how it will be to weigh less, date someone kinder to us, go to a party sober, or exercise on a regular basis. But when you think about it, how much of life can really be accurately predicted anyway? Perhaps it’s not control that we’re clinging to, but the illusion of control.

This year I invite you to consider what will happen if you don’t make the positive changes you promise yourself. How will you feel if you keep doing what you’ve been doing all along? Is that picture scarier or less scary as what you’re proposing to change? How much do you want the results of the changes, and how much do you want the results of not changing? Play a movie of each outcome in your head, with you as the star. Which feels better to you? Which feels worse? What are you willing to do or experience in order to have the “better” movie? I hope that you can use this idea to get very clear about what you want and make sure that your actions are influenced by realistic factors. Fear of death, disease and pain make sense to me; fear of the unknown is based on a nebulous construct of our own imaginations. We make the unknown scarier than it has to be. Don’t let fear push you around this year.

Responsibility for Symptom Management


We need to have compassion for our loved ones with mental health and behavioral issues. We (and they) also need to minimize the damage that can come with mental illness symptoms. Taking responsibility includes getting consistent help and observing and managing our own behavior.


Much as some of us struggle to get well from mental illnesses like depression, Bipolar illness, and PTSD, sometimes we have a hard time keeping those troublesome symptoms to ourselves. This can make our lives miserable, and also be difficult for those whom we love. It can be hard for partners of mentally ill people to balance compassion with self-preservation, especially if the symptoms hurt or frighten the loved one.

I often see couples where one person has been traumatized by something that has happened in the past, whether it was done by the partner (as in infidelity or domestic violence), or by someone else in the person’s past. This increases the reactivity of the trauma victim. The trauma survivor can become very sensitive to noise, sound, tones of voice, or cues that remind him or her of the prior trauma. When the person gets triggered, they might yell, become angry, get scared, or act in ways that are hard for the other person to understand.

Often the person who acts differently feels bad about it afterward, once their brain has restored balance and they are no longer in the grips of overwhelming emotion. However, many times their loved one feels hurt and reluctant to trust them again, for fear of recurrence of the emotional instability and erratic behavior.

There is some grace that we allow each other in relationships, whether they are friendships, intimate/romantic relationships, or family ties. On the whole, if we know our loved one has a good heart and kind intentions, we can forgive some of the erratic or hurtful behavior. But the person with the mental issues also has a responsibility to take care of themselves as much as they can so that they can prevent hurting those they love. If a person keeps yelling at someone or treating them poorly, and says, “it’s because I’m triggered by you”, then they are not fully taking responsibility for their part in the interaction. It can be hard to forgive this kind of assertion. Yes, loved ones should educate themselves about their loved one’s mental illness and try to put the strange behavior in context. At the same time, however, the mental illness diagnosis doesn’t give a person carte blanche to act as they wish at that time.

There is nothing wrong with seeking help in coping with mental issues, and in going to groups like National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) to get education and support. Both the person with the illness and the partner/friend/family member need to care for themselves and take needed medication, therapy, or whatever will help them cope better, as well as learn to act in a way conducive to healthier relationships.

The little green monster in the bedroom


Even though very few people like to admit it, we all feel jealousy from time to time. Whether it’s over a quality that another person has that we wished we possessed, or coveting precious time that we wish to spend with a person that another person is “hogging”, it’s fairly common and natural. It seems troubling, however, when it predominates in our thinking and sours our relationship with others. This is especially true with our spouses and lovers.

A common problem I see in couples and individuals in my practice stems from people feeling insecure with their mates because of real or imagined indiscretions that a person’s mate has engaged in. Sometimes both spouses have “cheated”, whether in person with another person or over social media or “sexting.” The question of trust arises, of course, but the deeper and more penetrating issue is the insecurity itself. How did this insecurity find its way into the relationship, and what to do about it once it’s there?

While there’s no magic pill or easy answer to this, I think there are some general ideas I can share that might help with this problem.

First and foremost, working through childhood wounds of feeling unloved or unworthy is crucial to feeling secure and not succumbing to jealousy, at least on a grand scale and to the extent that it hurts your relationships. This takes a while, I know, and it can be pretty painful. But trust me: it’s worth it!

Second, strengthen your relationship with the person by focusing on what you like and appreciate about the person you’ve chosen as your spouse or lover. It’s easy to find fault with other people, especially when you think they have let you down. Yet the real challenge, and the real sign of love, is acknowledging and finding the good in them. What are you grateful for in this person? What do you find attractive/sexy/compelling about him or her? What would your life be like without this person? Tell the person that. Even if you’re fighting. ESPECIALLY if you’re fighting! Keep doing it. You are “winning” not by hurling insults (the easy, obvious choice), but by softening the walls between you and that person.

Third, strengthen your self esteem by acknowledging and appreciating your own gifts and attributes. If someone else has an ability or quality you like, ask yourself two things. Is that a quality that I can aspire to have myself? If I worked on it, could I be congenial and sociable like Bill over there? Or is it something, like being 6’7″ tall and a pro athlete, that I’m not likely to accomplish in this lifetime? If it’s the former, then you can put your energy into developing that skill or ability. If it’s the latter, you can accept that you’re not a pro basketball player and appreciate the skills and size of your favorite NBA star. Which brings me to my forth idea.

Fourth, be happy — yes, genuinely HAPPY — for people you envy. Wish them well. Enjoy their success vicariously. Believe it or not, it makes you happier and more attractive. You’re not always resenting other people for what they have and you don’t. Instead, you are gracious and generous with your joy. What a concept!

The Stigma of Mental Illness


I’ve heard many stories of people feeling ashamed of themselves for having a mental health condition that makes it hard for them to relate to others and/or cope with stress. I am saddened by this because I don’t think there is any need to feel ashamed of having a mental disorder. In fact, 9% of American adults have felt depressed at some point of their lives and 3.4% of Americans suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, according to CDC. The CDC also states that Forty million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, many people use the term “crazy”, “insane”, “wacko”, “psycho” and “bipolar” to describe people’s undesirable behavior. This adds to the stigma and if you find yourself using such derogatory language, I recommend your using other words to say that the behavior is strange or upsetting. Of course, we have all probably said something unkind like that, and we can’t do anything about the past other than to decide that it wasn’t helpful behavior and that we can change it starting now.

If you suffer from a mental disorder, I hope that you consider that these people are often speaking out of hate and/or ignorance. Sometimes people are not necessarily hateful, but misguided in their statements. If someone who is not your psychotherapist or psychiatrist advises you to quit taking medication and/or psychotherapy, I hope you discuss it with your qualified medical professional first before taking the word of someone who may not know from whence they speak. Also, realize that most psychiatric medication is not something you get “hooked on” (aside from a class of anti-anxiety drugs called benzodiazepines), and that taking it doesn’t make a person “weak” or “a druggie.” Religious leaders who say that all you need is God, not medical treatment for your disorder, are also to be regarded with suspicion (in my opinion).

If you think the person who is saying unwise, unkind things to you will listen to you and take responsibility for what they’re doing, you can point out to them that their behavior is hurtful and that you’d prefer that they stop. Or, if you think they can’t be influenced in a positive direction or you’ve tried numerous times to let them know you don’t find their comments helpful, you can avoid contact with them or change the subject. The bottom line is that it’s your life, your decision, and your wellness that are most important to you. I hope that you don’t care so much what other people think about you that you avoid having a rich, full life with socialization and enjoyment among other people because of this stigma. You deserve to enjoy your life just as much as anyone else, regardless of what diagnostic label may have been assigned to you. I want you to feel comfortable knowing that we all have our unique challenges in life, and no one challenge is better or more important than any other challenge.

One organization that has done tremendous good in educating and advocating for people with mental illness is National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI). I encourage you to contact them for more information and to see what programs they have that could be of use to you. There are also support groups for family members of mental illness, because mental illness can affect the whole family. NAMI’s website is http://www.nami.org/Find-Your-Local-NAMI.

If you need help healing from the stigma of mental illness, I hope you contact me at 661-233-6771. We can get through this, and many other difficult situations, together.

Yoga as Trauma Care?


As I become more acquainted with the pioneering work of Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, I am impressed with the variety of approaches that he takes to trauma treatment. He is innovative in his thinking about how trauma affects the body and one of the main messages that I take away from his research is that trauma survivors need a way to be comfortable in their own skin. The challenge is how to help people achieve this, and traditional talk therapy is just one of the ways (although not entirely sufficient) to achieve this comfort.

Dr. van der Kolk developed a study on how yoga can help people affected by PTSD and trauma gain a greater sense of safety with their own physical bodies. He explains that traumatic memories can be stored in the body and that yoga helps people change their automatic physical responses to trauma triggers. Yoga is also helpful for affect regulation, a fancy way of saying that it helps us cope with our emotional and uncomfortable sensations. It also helps calm the mind and assists participants in observing themselves as they experience their bodies and thoughts. Through use of the breath, we can learn to change our autonomic nervous system. He cautions that for people who are sensitive to traumatic stimuli, it’s important to study with yoga instructors who know how to deal with trauma survivors. For instance, he recommends that yoga instructors check in with participants before making physical adjustments to their poses, or being aware that certain poses (asanas) are more vulnerable for trauma survivors than others.

I found it exciting that an ancient spiritual and physical practice that is often-touted as stress reduction in general, can be helpful for healing trauma as well.

More information about this can be found here:
http://www.traumacenter.org/research/research_overview.php

More about EMDR


I recently found this article to be interesting and informative for people who are contemplating EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy. I like that it explains the benefits even-handedly, and it’s a good little synopsis of what EMDR could do for someone with complex trauma (multiple traumas that affect the way people relate to themselves and the world). I share the author’s appreciation for how EMDR therapy emphasizes the importance of focusing on the somatic experience of trauma and re-processing. So much of what we experience in our lives is stored in the body, both pleasurable and painful experiences. I have also seen unresolved grief be stored in the body. The impact of these emotional and physical experiences become patterns that can become automatic, ingrained conditioned tendencies (to borrow a term from the great Somatic Coach, Richard Strozzi-Heckler).

What’s So Great About EMDR

While we’re on the topic of how body and mind respond to trauma, I would like to  recommend highly two wonderful books:

Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine, and

The Body Remembers by Babette Rothschild. Both are sensitive, highly experienced clinicians who write beautifully about how we can learn from our bodies to heal from trauma.

If you have more questions about EMDR therapy and how it could be helpful to you, I urge you to call me at 661-233-6771.