I just finished 3 days of in-person training for EMDR Italy in Milan! It was a spectacular event after two and a half years of the pandemic where over 1500 people gathered to talk about helping our clients heal from trauma using EMDR! We talked about the robustness of EMDR as a model of therapy that has a broad range of applications and can be used to treat clients in various contexts. I was truly touched by the number of EMDR therapists in Italy who have volunteered to treat the Ukrainian refuges that have relocated to Italy as well as the number of humanitarian teams from Italy who have gone to Poland and other countries to help the refugees onsite using recent events protocols for individuals and groups. So we discussed the range that EMDR therapy has from a critical incident intervention to an ongoing psychotherapy approach.
We also discussed how EMDR therapy and its core elements offers us all that we need to treat even the most complex clinical presentations. The clinical challenge, of course, is about making clinical choices based on the specific client and clinical variables which goes beyond the protocol and procedural steps to understanding the client as a person with strengths as well as vulnerabilities due to the traumas they have endured.
Additionally, we talked about how we understand the nature of our clients’ problems and why they struggle in the ways that they do. While symptom relief is important, and sometimes the only goal as is the case with processing recent traumatic events, it’s not sufficient when we’re doing EMDR psychotherapy. The symptom is the tip of the iceberg. The problem is what’s underneath, which are the foundational memory networks of experiences that have not been processed. And while our clients frequently present their symptoms of anxiety and depression as their problems, we as EMDR therapists, have to dig deeper for a big picture understanding of why.
All that to say, it was a wonderful and stimulating experience to be surrounded by my fellow Italian EMDR colleagues who are passionate about helping their clients heal from their traumas, and who are devoted to doing their best to make that happen. I felt like I was home.