Comprehensive EMDR Session Debrief

Kelly O'Horo, EMDR Facilitator and Approved Consultant and Founder of Infinite Healing and Wellness, and Jaime Castillo, EMDR Approved Consultant in Training, Founder of Find Your Shine Therapy, discuss the Comprehensive EMDR Therapy Session demonstrated in their first video.


Jaime describes her experience as the client regarding EMDR 2.0 strategies used. Kelly describes her experience as the therapist in this session. The purpose of this video is to share for both clients and therapists how an EMDR Therapy session might be experienced from both perspectives.


Kelly O'Horo:


Hi there. I'm Kelly O'Horo. I'm the founder of Infinite Healing and Wellness. I am an EMDR facilitator, approved consultant, and certified EMDR therapist. I'm also a Daring Way facilitator for Brene Brown's research and content. And I'm sitting here with Jamie Castillo.


Jaime Castillo:


Hi there, I'm Jamie, and I'm the founder and clinical director of Find Your Shine Therapy in Tempe. I'm also an EMDR certified therapist, and an approved consultant in training. And Kelly and I are here today to debrief our EMDR video that we've recorded.


Kelly O'Horo:


So the purpose of this video is to debrief the EMDR therapy session that Jamie and I recorded, because we want clients who want to pursue EMDR therapy, to have something they can look at and have an experience of, so that they're not going in so cold. It's such a nerve wracking experience anyway, to go to therapy, and EMDR therapy is super different and weird. So we wanted to make sure we have a good illustration of what it should look like, and we could talk a little bit to you about what it also feels like. So we're just going to jump right in.


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah.


Kelly O'Horo:


So Jamie, how was your experience as the client for this EMDR therapy session that we recorded?


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah. So I have to be honest, it was super weird.


Kelly O'Horo:


It really is. It really is.


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah. My background is as a therapist, as I mentioned. I have been an EMDR client before, so that wasn't new to me, but this was the first time you and I have worked in this kind of context before.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. Right.


Jaime Castillo:


I worked on something that's real in my life, and has some real emotion tied to it. It was a great experience, everything. I was totally genuine throughout the entire thing, so everything that you saw was real, and it was pretty vulnerable for me.


Kelly O'Horo:


Yeah.


Jaime Castillo:


Especially, it brings up a lot of painful stuff, and experiencing that with somebody else in the room can feel vulnerable, but also, being filmed and knowing that others are going to see it, feels a little bit vulnerable, as well.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. We're all our own greatest critics, all people are so critical of themselves, and coming at this from a professional lens typically, to see that kind of vulnerability that you showed us, I just thought it was so incredibly brave, and so awesome of you to do that, because there's just not a lot of good videos out there that really show the truth about what it looks like. I just really commend you. Our clients are going to see this, and it's really brave to get in the arena like that. I can't, come on, she's awesome. It's just really awesome.


Kelly O'Horo:


As a therapist, I found that I'm so much more natural in the flow when I'm with a client. But again, with that video component, as we re-watched, we both were like, "Oh my gosh, I did this wrong, and I said that wrong." It definitely, I think, is an interesting lens to look at, this really authentic, natural experience, but with that learning lens, and that maybe critical eye I looked at my position as a critical position, like here's where I could have improved.


Kelly O'Horo:


But I just thought you were, I mean, such a... A perfect training video, if it goes well, this is what it should look like.


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah. I really appreciate that. And I have to say Kelly, that while you may have saw things in there that you would've done differently, it really, it brings home the importance of client and therapist attunement.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right.


Jaime Castillo:


Because none of that stuff mattered to me.


Kelly O'Horo:


Okay.


Jaime Castillo:


What mattered the most as the client, was that I could feel you with me.


Kelly O'Horo:


Yeah.


Jaime Castillo:


Right? So I could feel that Kelly was attuned to me. And what I mean by that is, that she was just tuned into me. She was almost feeling what I was feeling a little bit, but in a boundaried way, and just helped me lean into that feeling and feel safe to do that. That's one takeaway that I think is really important for clients as they pursue an EMDR therapist, is finding somebody that they feel comfortable in the room with.


Kelly O'Horo:


Yeah.


Jaime Castillo:


And finding a therapist that can really attune to them, and really make them feel safe to go there.


Kelly O'Horo:


Yeah. We have another video coming your way about that very topic. So stay tuned for kind of how to choose a therapist, because that's another video coming soon.


Kelly O'Horo:


Something I wanted to bring to the attention... For those who had EMDR therapy before, you might have noticed that I did some different things that were not as standard with the standard bilateral stimulation that we see in other videos, and that we see from a lot of therapists, because in the last few years, some new research has come out. We're learning that there's some real benefits to changing the way we do bilateral stimulation to decrease the distress for the client, and help you get through hard stuff faster. But also it's because it's a little bit tricky to keep up with the things that I asked you to do, it's less emotionally dysregulating, while not really compromising the processing itself, and the completion of the processing. So can you talk a little bit about what that was like for you?


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah, for sure. So I noticed that I was experiencing the memory, and experiencing the emotions, which were really intense, really sharp. And at the same time, doing things, like naming things in the ocean, for example. That really helps. It feels really a lot like dipping in and dipping out.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right.


Jaime Castillo:


Right? Because I don't think that we are very good at truly doing two things at once, and having our attention in two places at once. So it feels a little bit like toggling, so.


Kelly O'Horo:


Yeah.


Jaime Castillo:


Experiencing the emotion and then saying, turtle.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. Right.


Jaime Castillo:


And then like feeling the emotion again, and then thinking of another.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right.


Jaime Castillo:


That is helpful for not becoming flooded or lost in the emotional experience. I think that it was really helpful.


Kelly O'Horo:


Good, but we do, make no mistake, we do have to feel it to heal it. And so it's not effective if we don't have arousal up, or that emotion up. Part of that attunement that you were talking about was really... I mean, I very much care about clients that I work with, and I really do lean into that transference, connected energy so that people feel me present. I'm really glad that you said that, because I knew that it was going to be overwhelming to do this on film, and I wanted to make sure you knew I'm right here with you, so that you could feel safe enough to go there, in spite of the camera being on us.


Kelly O'Horo:


But at the same time, once she got up there with that emotion and it was there, then it's like, we got to grab it while it's hot. And that's why that looked a little bit different than you might see in other EMDR therapy videos. And there's a time and a place. So that's important to know also, for a clinician who might be watching this, that it's not a one size fits all adjustment to that bilateral stimulation.


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right, right. Let's talk a little bit about the target that you chose. Can you tell us a little bit about how you chose that?


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah. That was something that was a recent-ish experience that I felt like was causing present triggers. Right? So I'd be out in the world and see a pregnant lady, and feel that sharpness of that memory. Because it was, I guess you could say, impacting my functioning, it was intrusive. It was showing up day to day. I knew that it was something that I needed to do some work on.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. And it was older than three months, so it was appropriate that we used the standard protocol, as opposed to a more recent incident protocol. And we wanted to make sure illustrate that for this as well. But like you said, you wanted to do something that could potentially be impacting now, and also, as you saw in the video, something in the future.


Kelly O'Horo:


I was curious though, I wanted to demonstrate the full flow back, so a client knows that most things do get rooted in old things ,as we have plenty of unprocessed emotional distress in our stories. When I had you do that flow back, I was wondering if you thought it would go to something old, or if you had it set in your mind, as the client, I want to work on this thing, this is what feels safe, this is what feels comfortable. And just what that was like for you? Because clients come in all the time and they have at it, they know, this is what I want to work on. And then we have to, as clinicians, help them decide, but also still giving them agency, but at the same time, knowing there's something older. I hope that I illustrated for clients, there are decisions, but it doesn't mean the old stuff doesn't come up. So what was that like for you?


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah, yeah. I definitely didn't expect that it would go to something older, just because it felt like the pregnancy loss, in my cognitive brain, felt like its own thing.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right.


Jaime Castillo:


And I guess I should say, I did imagine that it would go to my first miscarriage, because those are very connected. But you had me float back even further. And it was really interesting that my parents' divorce came up, when I was sort of embodying this feeling of defectiveness.


Kelly O'Horo:


But also, loss.


Jaime Castillo:


And loss.


Kelly O'Horo:


The grief of loss.


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah. So, and then, yeah, I think I quickly was like, well, that's old, right? I don't want to go there.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. Which is a common thing we find in sessions. Like, that's all, I'm over that, I've already processed it. For the sake of this training, and then also for your most current need and benefit, I think I discussed, we want to be thorough, and we want to know where things are connected, so that you just have options. Right?


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah.


Kelly O'Horo:


I think that it was a great choice. I don't know what would have happened if we went old, it might've generalized up through the current stuff. It might've opened up other memory networks that you didn't really want to do on camera. Which I mean, hey, who wants to do that on camera? That hopefully you guys could see that even something she didn't think, as an EMDR therapist, was going to go to something old in her childhood about her parents' divorce. Here it goes, the body knows all roads lead to home.


Kelly O'Horo:


One thing I just really encourage you to do as the client is trust the process. When someone does this protocol correctly, the body will take us exactly where we need to go, and we really can trust that, and that's why I love this protocol, and this theory so much, is we really don't have to be the best detectives, our client's bodies and our client's emotional availability really will tell us what we need to know about what needs work. So I really appreciated that you were able to drop in, and use that and get there, because it did model what we're trying to show that EMDR can do. So I was really glad that that happened for you. And hopefully you'll add that to the list.


Kelly O'Horo:


I always make jokes as an EMDR client, when something triggers me, add it to the list of things I need to continue to work on, because it's not all gone yet.


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah. Yeah. And if we were working in the context of an ongoing client-therapist relationship, that would be something that we would address.


Kelly O'Horo:


For sure. It would have been next on the list. We've got this cleared, I'd go back and check to make sure it was still clear, and then I say, "That thing that you floated back to, could we check in on that and make sure that it's fully clear and help out?" I think you said you were about five?


Jaime Castillo:


Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Kelly O'Horo:


So, can we go help out that five-year-old and the memories there that need the respect. And there's a new book out actually even about, Every Memory Deserves Respect and Time. So I think that that would be a good thing to do moving forward.


Kelly O'Horo:


So let's see. How did you know which target you wanted to work on when I had you do the float back? So on that same topic, what made you choose that?


Jaime Castillo:


So that's a really important question, and it brings up the difference between what we know to be true, or what we think cognitively, versus what our body is telling us.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right.


Jaime Castillo:


And sometimes those can be very different, and our thoughts, and our cognitions, and our logic, can sometimes stifle what body knows intuitively. I certainly had lots of thoughts that came up right away about like, this is what we're doing, this is what I'm here for, this is what we're targeting.


Jaime Castillo:


And at the same time, when Kelly, I think you prompted me to - don't think about it.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right.


Jaime Castillo:


Tune in and listen or feel for it. I think that's a really important thing, that it's really useful for clients to trust their therapist, to honor their own bodies and what their bodies are telling them, even if it conflicts with what you know to be true cognitively.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. Right.


Jaime Castillo:


As I was floating back, I could feel the sensation associated with certain memories, and my body would literally do things, like it would jerk, or a strong sensation would come up when I was thinking about certain memories. So I really tuned into what my body was telling me I needed to do.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. Yeah. And you even, I think you may even made mention of like, "Oh, something just happened there." And I said, "The body is the truth." Right?


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah.


Kelly O'Horo:


And your eyes welled up at different points when there were connections there. As the clinician, I was paying a lot of attention to that, so that I could find affectively, emotionally, what was super important to pay attention to, and make sure I could help guide her there, even if it felt scary. So I thought you did a beautiful job at listening to your body, which can be really hard, because sometimes our body tells us something we don't really want to address.


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah.


Kelly O'Horo:


And that can be really scary doing trauma therapy. But we can't ignore it either, because we walk out the door, and it still will be there. It's not going to be resolved until we pay full attention to that experience, that memory.


Jaime Castillo:


Absolutely. Yeah.


Kelly O'Horo:


Yeah. So what were some of the things that you found helpful during the experience as a client?


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah. Most helpful was just your presence and your energy. It felt very nurturing, very, almost motherly. I could tell you cared about my pain. You were almost in it with me, and that made it safe to go there.


Kelly O'Horo:


Okay, good. That was what I was going for. Even though we don't have a super long relationship, I already have a lot of respect and care for you. And so that you didn't make it very hard for me to kind of drop into what that might feel like and be like, so, you make it easy to care about you.


Jaime Castillo:


Thank you.


Kelly O'Horo:


So that is something to kind of note. Were there any distinct moments that you were uncomfortable? Because, I think this is something that clients are really scared of. They don't want to do this weird work with us. They don't want to go there. They don't want to go into the unknown, especially when we don't really know what's going to come up. And that happens, things can come up that we don't know about. So were there any things that you noticed were not great?


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah. I think with EMDR, especially if you've never done it before, it does feel like a sea of unknown. Right? You don't know what connections are going to be made. You don't know what you're going to remember. You don't know what memories are going to come up. I think anytime you do EMDR as the client, I'll speak for myself, there does have to be a willingness to be vulnerable.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right.


Jaime Castillo:


It's just a prerequisite to doing the work. And if you have a safe person, a therapist that you trust, who's in it with you, it makes it doable. It makes it possible.


Jaime Castillo:


But I will say for me, it did feel vulnerable. I didn't know what associations would be made, or what memories would come up.


Jaime Castillo:


And again, it felt really vulnerable to be on display.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right.


Jaime Castillo:


To be filmed with something that was so personal and real to me that honestly, I haven't really shared with a lot of people in my life, even, so.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. It's such a personal topic.


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah.


Kelly O'Horo:


Yeah. Good, and thanks for sharing that.