Riding Roller Coasters | The Center for Excellence in EMDR Therapy

Riding Roller Coasters

Roller coaster ride

Riding Roller Coasters

By
Robin Richardson, LCSW-C, Center Faculty

It’s a predictable cycle.

I’ve always considered myself to be brave overriding my insecurities while practicing new skills in front of other people. It’s a predictable cycle. I start a new training feeling skilled. I learn something new and experience confusion.  I finally integrate what I learned and have new skills. As a newbie therapist, I first trained behind a one-way mirror at the Marianne Walter’s Family Therapy Practice Center where you’re being watched by a team of people…seriously???  Who in their right mind would subject themselves to all that scrutiny? And then while you’re in there the phone rings.  Are they going to cheer you on, or offer you direction because you did something wrong? That was intimidating.

From skilled to deskilled and re-skilled.

Every professional training I’ve taken from that point on required practice sessions where I was being observed. I thought it would get easier the more I did it, but that never happened. The same cycle prevailed: skilled, deskilled, and re-skilled. Over the years, I managed to muscle through Imago Relationship Therapy, EMDR therapy and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, all of which required me to be observed while secretly feeling terrified…ugh.

Am I brave or a masochist?

My passion for EMDR began in 2001 so naturally, I joined one of Deany’s consultation groups where I brought in taped sessions for Deany and the group to watch. That, too, was terrifying. More recently, becoming an EMDRIA-approved Consultant and later a Facilitator-in-Training (FIT) for The Center, I don’t seem to be learning my lesson. Instead, I am repeating the cycle of skilled, deskilled, and re-skilled. One might wonder, am I being brave or am I just being a masochist?

Feeling raw and vulnerable.

While in the FIT program, now as a seasoned therapist, it felt even more threatening to be behind the proverbial one-way mirror. I was being tormented in a different way. “I’m supposed to already know all this stuff,” even though being a facilitator is very different than being a consultant or a therapist. I felt so raw and vulnerable that I reached out to my own EMDR therapist for help.  What an idea!

A revelation…

Hmmm….do you think there’s a past-present connection here? Maybe my current anxieties have something to do with my past, especially since I’ve been in this movie before.  As the youngest of three children, I always felt like I had to prove myself to everybody.  With two older siblings who are highly accomplished – getting a doctorate, or being an entrepreneur and owning two beach houses, I didn’t stand a chance. I was always in their shadow. Finally, while reprocessing, I got it! All this time, mentors and peers, family, and friends, have always supported me, not judged me! They were actually on my side!  They all wanted me to succeed which is why they offered guidance and direction. When my wiring got upgraded, as EMDR can do, from feeling really small and out of my depths, to feeling like a competent, capable adult who is supported and cared for, it was truly an “ah ha” moment…one of those EMDR revelations that lands in the center of your being.

Riding roller coasters

So – to our colleagues, our trainees and consultees out there, whether experienced in EMDR or not, take it from me – it's part of being a growing, thriving human and therapist.  And, we’re here for you as you feel de-skilled. It’s more than learning EMDR. It's about continuing to learn and grow, and we just want to support you in your learning. It’s organic and we all go through it (some of us more than others). But here’s what else I learned. When I get to feeling re-skilled, I am always better than I was before I went through all that. That was the secret! It’s never about going back to feeling skilled in the first place. It was about coming to a greater truth: that if we’re going to be our best selves, we have to keep riding that roller coaster.  After all, it’s supposed to be scary and take us out of our comfort zone…isn’t that the point?