Therapy. It plays a huge part in people’s recovery. As you’ll know from my previous posts, I gave CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) a go last year. Admitting to myself that I needed help was the hardest part, but an essential step nonetheless. I had to stop my therapy as we moved house and out of the area so I had to be referred again to my new and local service. I’m now back on the waiting list and hope to start therapy again in the summer.
I’ve made some amazing friends through Twitter, and two of my friends have recently started their therapy journeys. They’ve kindly allowed me to ask them some questions about the types of therapies they’ve started.
Humanistic Integrative Therapy – Beth’s Story
Beth lives in Nottingham with her fiance, Phil and chihuahua, Pandora. Like me, Beth struggles with emetophobia and anxiety and has done for as long as she can remember.
Beth has tried CBT therapy, but unfortunately the results from it were short lived. Recently, she was advised to try Humanistic Integrative Therapy and here, I ask her questions about what it is and how she’s finding it.
What is Humanistic Integrative Therapy?
Humanistic Integrative Therapy is a therapy that considers the “whole person” – mind, body & spirit. It takes into account that we are people first and foremost. The aim is to treat all aspects of ourselves – like seeing & treating the much bigger picture.
Have you tried any other therapies? If so, how did you find them in comparison?
Yes, I have! I was in and out of therapy as a child. I am no stranger to CBT. I’ve had it on 3 occasions now. I did find it helpful – especially as a child – I found it was very logic based which helped me to grasp some affirmations to use when emetophobia was playing up. But unfortunately, for me, it was short lived. It was almost as if the phobia worked its way around the affirmation barriers and there I was back at square 1!
I loved the “talking” aspect of CBT – that was super. I have always found it easy to talk & express myself that way so this side of the therapy suited me down to the ground. But unfortunately it just didn’t get deep enough to the root of the problem & shortly after finishing I felt I’d failed in my recovery as the old thoughts came crawling back.
Was there anything that worried you about the therapy?
YES! I was absolutely terrified of opening those metaphorical doors to old memories & traumas that had caused my phobia & anxiety. The idea of voluntarily “going there” & poking those feelings with a stick almost made me cancel my first appointment. But I was pleasantly surprised – it is such a calm process within the session. It’s all about the energy of you & your therapist. If the energy doesn’t feel right – we don’t dig deeper. We wait until I am ready & that was the most wonderful thing. To be much more in control helped me to confront those memories head on – stronger.
How well do you think the therapy is working for your phobia?
It’s changed my life. This is a really interesting question, actually! I never thought that “energy” & “spirit therapy” would help something as clinical as a phobia. But during my therapy sessions my therapist & I slowly uncovered that my phobia is attached to emotional memories & a fear of being left alone should I be ill. Let me dissect this a bit; I know it sounds strange! Whenever I have a panic attack I ALWAYS tap my throat – it’s a subconscious reaction I’ve done since being a child. The throat is the spiritual link to communication & after doing some “inner child” work (where you visualise yourself as a child & become friends with yourself to re-awaken those memories – cool, huh?!) I found that I had been suppressing A LOT of feelings from my childhood. It was the fear of these feelings coming to the surface & being out of control of their release that has been contributing MASSIVELY to the emetophobia! After having a very teary session sharing these once forgotten feelings, the emetophobia has subsided. It’s incredible. I still have a long way to go in continuing this habit that getting ill is not anywhere near as scary as I remember – but it’s a start. That’s what matters!
Have you experienced any side effects/adverse effects during or after your therapy sessions?
Gosh, yes. After doing “inner-child work” my therapist mentioned that I may have spontaneous emotional releases…I thought she was just saying that I may feel a bit down now and then. Bloody hell was I wrong! I got home on a high & felt amazing & the next day I was a blubbering mess. I cried for the whole day. But the interesting thing was that I wasn’t sad! I felt no feelings of sadness – just these huge tears rolling down my face. It was the most healing experience I’ve ever had. Since that point I’ve felt so light. It’s incredible how much I had been holding in & had never noticed. We are really complex beings & of course we hold things in to “protect” ourselves. If only we knew how damaging that can be in reality!
What’s the hardest part of humanistic integrative therapy?
This is such a hard question – I love all aspects of the therapy! I think the one thing I find difficult is the unpredictability of it all. I think everyone feels that way in therapy. But I’ve found with the humanistic type that I can go into a session wanting to talk about one thing & end up talking about something I didn’t even realise I was emotional about. But this is important. Our minds know what we need to share. It’s just being patient & expressing that when it comes to the surface.
Does the therapy give you the ability to practice techniques in your own time when you’re not in a session?
Definitely. It’s the same as other therapies in that respect. Since starting my sessions I’ve started journalling, meditating, language-watching (a really good one if you’re super hard on yourself!) & all sorts! There are many visualisation techniques in this therapy. I honestly used to feel they were a waste of time but as I’ve gotten more in touch with myself I am so open to them! My particular favourite has to be the dolls house. If you’re going through old memories…picture them happening within a dolls house as you’re looking in. You can choose to open and shut the door. You can choose the colour of the door, wallpaper, floor ANYTHING! It’s so immersive & it gives you an ability to close the door on memories that distress you until you feel in the right head space to experience them & heal.
Do you have any words of advice for people considering starting therapy?
You deserve to be the best you. If you are in anyway unhappy with your mental health, your attitude to yourself or even just want to better yourself as you are – DO IT! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s changed my life for sure. I never thought it possible to feel the way that I do now. It is possible. Don’t lead a mediocre existence. We are here to be GREAT.
You can follow Beth on Twitter and also watch her YouTube videos that she uploads every Friday.
EMDR Therapy – Katie’s Story
Katie is 28, lives in Leicester and has a gorgeous little daughter, Sienna. Katie also suffers with emetophobia and has done for the last 5 years. The therapy that was recommended to her was EMDR and so I’ve asked her questions about what it is and how she’s found it so far.
What is EMDR therapy?
EMDR is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. It uses eye movements to assist trauma victims in processing distressing memories.
Have you tried other therapies? If so, what?
I have previously tried talking to a therapist, but I felt that it didn’t help me in any way. With EMDR, I already feel a lot more relaxed than I did with my previous sessions.
Was there anything that worried you about EMDR therapy? If so, what?
I was worried it wouldn’t work and would be a complete waste of time, not just for me but for everyone involved. I was also worried that it would make me nauseous.
How well do you think EMDR is working for your emetophobia?
So far, I think it is working well. I have been able to attend children’s party’s without having a panic attack. I have also been able to be in the room with my daughter, Sienna, whilst she has been poorly – usually I’d have to leave the room and go and sit in my bedroom.
Have you experienced any side effects/adverse effects during or after EMDR therapy?
No, I have had zero side effects during my EMDR therapy sessions.
When I first became aware of EMDR therapy, it made me think of hypnotherapy – is it similar in any way?
I’m not entirely sure. However my therapist has said that EMDR therapy is more effective that hypnotherapy.
Does EMDR give you the ability to practice techniques in your own time when you’re not in a session?
No. My therapist has said to never try to do it at home.
Do you have any words of advice for someone either considering EMDR therapy or starting soon?
My advice to people considering EMDR therapy would be to go ahead and go for it. It’s so much more relaxed than other therapies.