This follow on to last month’s WoW is being published while the author of The EMDR Revolution: Change Your Life One Memory at a Time – The Client’s Guide, continues her work on healing trauma under siren sounds that alert Israeli citizens of incoming missiles.
Today’s Words on Wednesdays, notes what compelled and motivated Tal Croitoru, clinical therapist and researcher, to share the trauma healing methods she codified in her book. Her process as author is of interest to writers. The therapy itself, is ever more of interest to Military service members emerging from duty in conflict zones and to civilians also battling their own wars, within.
A guide and checklist on “How to know if one is receiving successfult therapy” in included in this post with the generous permission of our featured WoW author.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), discussed in part 1, is a therapeutic psychotherapy that has reported results of 77-90% recovery from PTSD in 5-12 hours. Clearly it offers benefit to warriors wounded in conflict zones and struggling throughout their transition phases on coming home. It has been applied to diplomatic staff, contractors and aid workers impacted in those same situations.
On the home front it serves as a guide to civilian clients, caregivers or the practitioner exploring EMDR with an eye to certification.
Readers can benefit through increased understanding of self. They gain insight through the engaging human stories shared in Croitoru’s easy and jargon free style.
These case histories allow readers to check into a wide spectrum of distressing personal problems and situations that can result in a traumatic event. A reader may have suffered a shaming, abusive, painful or debilitating incident in their lives. They may also find information on how to find a break from frustrating or life-destroying anxieties.
Croitoru’s interesting description for us covers these unprocessed traumas – whether they originate from military service or from life challenges such as childbirth, divorce or a death in the family. “It’s like a small capsule from the past that can be triggered to activate its contents in the present. These can be negative feelings, sensations and thoughts that are enclosed in the capsule. So, in that sense the past is still present.”
Finding the right therapies can be a challenge, especially in times of turmoil. Checklists in the book’s appendix provide guide posts and then assessments for assurance in the search.
This quick assessment, and assurance, was an instant favorite when the MilSuccessNet team read EMDR Revolution just ahead of its first launch outside of Israel and on Amazon, in English.
In a final instalment we’ll also hear what criteria Tal Croitoru recommends for selecting an EMDR therapist, and we’ll look at what “hope” and improvement looks like.
Now in her own words…… and some of ours as we checked in with Tal Croitoru under rocket fire both answered and initiated, to ask about her process in creating the first Client Guide to EMDR.
Is your daily life affected during the conflict?
“Yes, I live in the center of Israel, and while Herzlia is less of a target or symbol compared to Tel Aviv that suffers more, we still do live by some sirens each day. They are far less than other areas. I do live in a newer building, so we have a missile proof room inside the apartment and I don’t need to run to outside to find shelter. However, I hardly leave my house as when you are caught outside when alert sirens go off, you need to lay down on the road and cover your head, braced protectively. I try to avoid that…
What inspired you to write this book on EMDR when others are already on the shelves?
The reason I wrote the book is because I heard so much from clients such as, “How come we never heard about it before”, and many times even worse – crying hard while saying “if only I knew about it before, I wasted so much of my life going to ineffective therapies. Thinking that nothing can help me. Thinking I have no choice but to suffer like that.” All this needless suffering breaks my heart. (more on this in part 1)
I know that most people didn’t go to EMDR, not because they knew about it and chose not to, rather that they never heard about it.
I feel that one of the reasons that a lot still never heard about it is that although there are dozens on dozens of EMDR books – they are from clinicians to clinicians. I felt that what was missing was “The Client’s Guide”- the one aiming and talking straight to the clients, not above their heads to other therapists.
I didn’t see one, so I created one.
This problem of having professional materials that neglect directing the clients with helpful specifics is not a local problem but an international one. My book answers a need that doesn’t get fulfilled at the moment in a lot of countries.
Your book is now in translation. It seems that publishers have understood your message and the need to bring a book to their readers with answers they won’t find elsewhere.
Yes, it’s the reason that it is picked for translation time after time. Right now it is being translated into Dutch, French and Romanian. It was already published in Spanish. Before the end of this year the Portuguese version will be ready.
More languages and countries are in negotiation.
Croitoru wanted the book to answer as many questions as possible for readers and for those considering EMDR. On the direct service side, she has founded a nationwide chain of EMDR clinics in her country.
The book comes out of the thousands and thousands of therapy hours in her clinical practice as well as all the many kinds of questions about EMDR that clients have.
“I wanted the book to answer as much as possible for them. I also wanted to give clients useful tools for choosing professional help wisely, as there are many myths and hyperboles. I wanted to add clarity to all that.
Individual stories are also included. I prefer stories over case studies.
Can you talk a bit about your actual writing and organizing process? The book is incredibly detailed.
I looked for stories that have something in common with a lot of people – so that a lot of people could relate and gain something from reading them. I began to document unusual and recurring instances in my clinics.
The documentation was done as recordings after and not during sessions.
It took me about a year and a half of recording notes, messages, information and details that I wrote and reviewed for several hours each week, always with the reader in mind.
Then it went to transcription.
The next step required a great deal of focus. So, I would block about 10 days, generally during holidays. I cancelled all my meetings – and did nothing but editing. In this time I concentrated on what needs to go next to what for maximum understanding. What compliments what for clarity and of course to look closely at what might be missing.
I gave it to people to read.
The manuscript didn’t go to colleagues. It went to regular people, strangers I collected on Facebook to be my reader panel. It was important to know what the general reading audience thought about it, not what my family, friends and colleagues think about it.
You seem to have welcomed what came back.
Yes, the pages were marked up with questions and requests for clarifications etc. Only after a few more rounds of that kind of ‘user tested’ reading did it go to a professional editor.
End of part 2 of 3: While the book contains some academic research, it is mostly based on her thousands of hours of clinical work.
“I wanted the book to be the source of clarity, and not only of information but also of wisdom learned from other people’s experiences, too.”
Publisher’s notes: File Size: 383 KB, 196 pages, Published by Morgan James Publishing (October 1, 2013) Available on Amazon Digital Services, Inc. Purchase it here and support the work of MilSuccessNet
About the Author
Tal Croitoru, M.S.W, M.B.A., is a certified EMDR consultant and therapist and CEO of EMDR Experts Israel, a chain of EMDR clinics throughout Israel. She is also CEO of EMDR Experts International for psycho-education resources about EMDR and premium EMDR therapy online. She is a doctoral researcher and external lecturer for social work at University of Haifa.
(Published here with permission) APPENDIX F
How to know if one is receiving a successful therapy?
You have decided to seek treatment, you have chosen a therapist. Some time passes, perhaps even a few months and you attend a few sessions. The question arises: How do I know if therapy is working?
I would like to offer a few criteria to weigh the situation. I will split them in two: within the therapy session, and out in the world at large. Within the confines of the therapy session:
• Confidence in the ability of the therapist to help you.
• Does the therapist display understanding and empathy?
• Is there a sense of openness and trust?
• A sense that if there is a disagreement or even an insult, it is not malicious and can be addressed and dealt with.
Outside the confines of the therapy session: Here the criteria changes in relation to the reason for seeking treatment.
Weakening or disappearing symptoms like: fewer tantrums, nightmares, less of an inferiority complex, and less anxiety. Or,
A rise in:
• Self-esteem — a feeling of competence and personal ability
• An understanding of the self and the environment around you
• A rise in the tools we utilize to deal with and improve our day to day life
• Improvement in life functions: employment, interpersonal relationships, family relationships, finding meaning in life and more
• Positive change in our approach to the world and how we view it
If we doubt we are getting the right treatment, it is important to look to the reasons we searched out treatment to begin with and to check how the treatment is affecting them. Make sure you are not judging the therapy based on criteria that are not relevant. The common mistakes in this context are:
• The depth of connection to the therapist. As I wrote before, the relationship with the therapist is the means, not the end. Trust, comfort, and security in the treatment room are all important to successful treatment, but the ends should not shift. The central aim should be improvement outside the treatment room.
• Depth of self-awareness. The level of self understanding that the client acquires regarding the source of his suffering and problematic behavior patterns is only the first stage.
Awareness is usually not enough to initiate change; the client needs to acquire the ability as well. Ability is built through two main processes:
1. Removing the shackles — the memories of traumatic events that tend to continue haunting us and adversely affect our present behavior. The best way I know to process disturbing memories is by utilizing the EMDR therapeutic method.
2. Providing new tools (for thinking, analysis of situations, coping and emotional processing) and encouragement to engage in new experiences.
YOUR COMMENTS AND EXPERIENCES are wanted, please leave a note below on what has worked for you or people in your unit – QUESTIONS you might have for Tal or other therapy practitioners in your work to transition at work, home, your community, school or place of work.