That's what my therapist said to me last night. She got started conducting EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy - with veterans, and absolutely loves doing it because it gets results. I still have no idea how it really works. But it's working like crazy whoa to bring down my anxiety so I can conquer my phobia.
My results, after just two sessions --> I drove on two highways for a round trip of 90 minutes, no tears, no shaking, no freaking out. I have a way to go but this was huge. It really feels like I'm in Driver's Ed again. I also went into a few normally nerve-wracking social situations with no problem, no Xanax, no anxiety - and one was my 30th high school reunion! I'm old.
Prior to starting the eye movement therapy, I took inventory of my body, noting where the tension was. Then I was asked to imagine a safe place to go to if it got too stressful. I then visualized an image of the problem I wanted to solve, and I rated how anxious it made me feel on a scale of 1 - 7, with 7 being most terrified. When I started, I was at a full tilt 7. When the eye movement stuff is done, you revisit all of this.
Then, the movement started. My eyes followed the therapist's moving hand and I let my mind go, first focused on my main problem. When she stopped moving her hand she would ask me, "What do you have?" what was I thinking of, what images came up? My brain unearthed all kinds of stuff, and a lot of it wasn't bad. Some was. It was very quick. There were tears. And laughter. And food. Lots of food experiences! Grandma's blueberry muffins came up more than once.
The therapist explained it to me in simple terms (because that's what I need): "sleep can process your anxieties but sometimes things are too big for sleep to process." and that EMDR gets these "things" unstuck, gets them processed and flowing.
It's surprisingly tiring. Most talk therapy is, but doing the eye movement sequences for just half an hour is almost exhausting.
I guess what I don't understand is how memories of Grandma's blueberry muffins with cold butter on them, made with blueberries that Grandpa had just picked down by the creek in upstate New York, how getting that through my brain helped me with my driving phobia. But I'll take it.