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A person disabled with PTSD worries that she is losing hope, and asks what options are open to her f

26 Sep
A person disabled with PTSD worries that she is losing hope, and asks what options are open to her for viable help, now that EMDR and talk therapy haven’t helped..
Dear BR,
I am disabled with PTSD and losing hope. Some treatments are helpful and some not at all. EMDR was so bad, it turned out to be a trauma instead of a treatment - it was by far the worst.

Talk therapy isn''t bad, but I’ve lost my verbal skills and can''t put words to anything.

What helped the most was imagery, but I can''t find this treatment in my current location. One example is someone put me into almost a hypnosis state (which wasn''t very difficult) and created a safe place, an image for me to go to.

Do you have any tapes that can help create a safe place? Progressive relaxation also helped. Do you have any tapes like that? And nothing helps with sleep. I did fall asleep with imagery before, but nightmares always woke me up, so I don’t know how long it would last. Do you have any tapes that can help prevent nightmares?

Thanks, Alanis



Dear Alanis,
Yes, there is plenty of imagery and other helpful, effective techniques available for you to use. Just a side-note: EMDR sometimes activates symptoms in a way that Thought Field Therapy, Somatic Experiencing and other "alphabet" techniques don''t. I''m not sure why this is so, but it''s been reported over and over again by therapists and their survivor-clients. That''s not to say EMDR doesn''t help some trauma survivors - it really does, sometimes very efficiently. But there''s less built-in cushioning in it for some. And it''s not unusual for a trauma survivor to temporarily lose verbal skills, so don''t worry about that right now. And you''re on the right track, so don’t give up.

Here is what I suggest:

For imagery, try our General Wellness or our Relieve Stress imagery. Both have ''safe place'' imagery on it, among other things. Once you''re used to settling yourself down with one of those, you may want to try our Healing Trauma imagery. But wait til you''ve established some relaxation skills first, because the trauma imagery is more evocative, and you need to be able to handle feelings before you''re ready for it. It''s very helpful when the time is right. Our Healthful Sleep imagery should be a help for sleep; likewise a wonderful CD program by Jean-Luc Mommaerts called ''Sleeping Better''. It''s so fabulous we''ve begun to carry it in our catalog. If his voice doesn''t send you some sweet, nourishing dreams, I don''t know what will!!

If you want to try a good "alphabet therapy", there''s a terrific VHS and DVD out by a social worker named Mary Sise, that has a lot of built-in cushioning and symptom relief. It''s called Thought Field Therapy - it''s really her version of a combination of Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and you can work with it safely and easily, as you would with a live therapist, if you can''t find one in your area. She''s a terrific guide. You can order it on her site, at http://www.integrativepsy.com.

And finally, Dr. Beverly Donovan, a psychologist at the VA hospital in Brecksville, Ohio, taught me an stunningly effective technique for nightmares - Imagery Reheasal Therapy. According to her, if you follow the protocol for 3 weeks, those suckers are gone (and often sooner). I actually tried this method out on a dear friend of 84, who was having a sudden emergence of a trauma nightmare from a foxhole in Anzio during WWII, and, much to our mutual amazement, this horrid nightmare which had been plagueing him for weeks, up and left after one session. Yikes! I wish I had known about this years ago. You can find it described in my book, Invisible Heroes, on pages 308-311.

I hope this information helps. Let me know.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award