April 23rd, 2009
I am writing this to you in the hopes that perhaps you can somehow use my story to help other clients or potential clients. You have my permission to share any additional information about my treatment that will help illustrate the effectiveness of EMDR. I know it works. I am hopeful that through these words and your work, EMDR will be more widely utilized to save and change lives as it has mine.
There is so much about what has transpired since June 23rd that I am unable to explain…but I will begin where it began.
I came to South Carolina with a rental car filled with nothing of value, especially me. Broken hearted, abused, sick and afraid, my shift in geography proved only that I had chosen a new nowhere, and was still not dead. You were a face on a website with a quote about EMDR that said, “Most profound results in the shortest amount of time.” Well I needed profound results and I was out of time so I came to you on that first day, sick with fear, giving a history that repulsed me: Age 61, one failed marriage, a second divorce pending, 5 children (1 stillborn), 2 cancers, insomnia, synesthesia, a paralyzing fear of men, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, a victim of MBP as a child, and “leaving,” my code word for dissociation…all revealed while Susan, my other self, stood crying outside your office window.
What you didn’t know was that while you were busy taking notes and playing “silence chicken” (that annoying game that therapists invented to illicit information during those terminally long gaps in conversation) I was spending the last 45 minutes of my life with you; a therapist, a stranger and (of all things) a man. I was making a decision…to either find a reason to live or proceed with my plan. What was left, the other me who actually cared enough to keep living, had been reduced to a whisper that was becoming inaudible.
I was so disoriented during that first session that I could only see your eyes and hear your voice talking about “EMDR and moving in the direction of better.” For some reason hearing the word “better” sounded attainable. I had always seen wellness as black or white, crazy or normal. Now you were using the word “better” as if it were meant for me. Isn’t it incredible how one little word, well timed and softly spoken can shine hope on despair? So based on your belief I decided to return. After all, once you’ve lost yourself what does losing time mean? So I made another appointment and postponed my plan by one week…and 45 minutes.
As I started to leave you didn’t say “good bye.” Had you expressed anything that final to me I don’t know if I would have made it home. Instead you wished me a peaceful, pleasant day. To my recollection, I had never had a peaceful, pleasant day so your comment seemed ludicrous. As I backed out of the driveway, it struck me that your office, positioned so serenely in the woods, was on a cul-de-sac, something I had failed to recognize when I arrived. I should have found it ironic that you were actually the “end of the road.” Instead it was symbolic, perhaps even prophetic, that seeking your help would either be a dead end or a turn around. My contemplation, however, was interrupted by Susan who began ranting in the back seat. She was angry that I had not given up and furious about my betrayal. I had told you about “leaving”…my first admission of dissociation to anyone. Susan and I had been exposed. We were naked before a stranger. We sobbed all the way home, but for very different reasons.
When we began the following week I was suddenly and quite unexpectedly catapulted into my trauma memory network. With acute sensory awareness, I found myself gagging on flavors, choking on smells and suffering the touch of hands that had purposed to hurt me. I was re-living the terror and it was as real to me as when it first happened. But through your guidance and EMDR, the tapping and breathing, the asking and revealing, I found that the bad had become something better, something I could accept, and that a dangerous incident had been replaced by a safe reflection.
Over the course of the next few weeks, there were breakdowns where I learned to cry out loud and breakthroughs where I heard laughter…mine. I identified the initial source of trauma and dissociation which led to perspective on the abusive patterns that characterized my life path. Sometimes it got ugly and the noise of my pain was deafening but you kept me moving and I began to hear music instead of clamor resonating around me and within me. The dissociation stopped during the first month of treatment. The safety I now experience has so completely filled my life that I no longer need that escape. And the synesthesia, that you asked me to consider as a gift, now allows me to experience the beauty of my life on sensory levels that often defy description.
The mental and emotional healing has been profound but there are other significant outcomes as a result of EMDR. I experienced changes in my physiology. I lost 30 pounds without dieting or increased exercise. My body feels as if it has been re-sculpted not just in size but in shape. My muscle tone and flexibility increased as have my energy levels. My youthful appearance has been the subject of much discussion and considerable questioning by others as I am seen to be a different woman. And after wearing glasses since the age of 10, I now have perfect vision.
As I continue with EMDR, the therapy has become even more efficient. Issues get resolved quickly and the work we do now is more focused on the present than the past. I am living independently, employed in an all male environment (you still find that amusing, don’t you?), experiencing personal freedom, and embracing this rebirth with great wonder.
I wish I could say that EMDR restored me to health, but this has not been a restoration…this has been a transformation. I am walking around in a body I have never known, living a life I had never dreamed, my mind, body and spirit made alive. It has been miraculous.
You know how thankful I am. You always defer to the method and your mission when I get overwhelmed with gratitude. But I think it is important that your potential clients understand this incredible treatment…how it really can change lives. So as you lead and they follow and you ask the pivotal question, “What are you getting…” That distant voice you hear will be mine replying…”better.” That is my prayer for every client touched by the work that you do.
I gave you 45 minutes, Greg. It was all I had left to give. You gave me EMDR and a future. It doesn’t seem like a fair exchange, does it? That small bit of time for a new life? But I know that we did our best, you and I. God has done the rest.
M.K. – Greenville, SC
“Greg is an exceptional therapist, and clearly he is dedicated to helping others. His sincere approach is most welcome! I have had years of “conventional” therapy, and felt that I gained little ground and insight to the truly important issues controlling my life. In just a few sessions Greg has opened my eyes and mind to actually see what’s been in front of me for years! It was a great relief to know I won’t have to spend the next 5 years in treatment to move forward. EMDR really works! I would recommend to anyone who is truly serious about obtaining lifelong results to try EMDR. I’ve only seen Greg a short time; however, as a “veteran” of therapy, I’ve never experienced the results I have with Greg!”
– from a new client, after only 8 sessions
“My life is like a whole new experience thanks to you and your help. The goals and strategies we laid out at the beginning of therapy are truly being realized in my life. There are not enough words to express how happy, fruitful, and blessed things have been thanks to you. The summer has been truly blissful for me and I finally feel that I am no longer controlled by the issues that one haunted me. For that I am so thankful.”
– from a former client, 3 months after treatment complete
“Before I came to see Greg, I hit bottom. I felt terrible about myself and my surroundings. Very few things in my life made it worth living. Since I began seeing Greg, I have felt better about myself and learned new ways of looking at things. Greg is trustworthy & non-judgmental – he is a friend. I feel much healthier and feel that I’m a better person. Life is worth living again. Thank you!”
– from a current client
“I honestly don’t know how the experience could have been any better. It has opened a window for me to truly be able to look back where I came from, understand how it affected the way I used to look at life, and be unafraid to make the changes to be a better me. I am happier and closer to God than I have ever been – thanks again!”
– from a current client
“Before seeing Greg I was feeling the world spiral downward on me. The despair was overwhelming. In time, with some great therapy, I crawled out of my hole smelling like roses and feeling not on top of the world, but just a step away. I feel renewed, and look forward to getting back to life. Thanks Greg!”
– from a current client
“Greg Smith is a wonderful therapist! I’ve seen many therapists over the past years and in only a short time, he has helped me more than anyone else ever did.. If you are considering seeing him – you are in the right place. I thank God for helping me find him.”
– from a new client, after 10 sessions
“I definitely recommend Greg to anyone with any type of emotional problem. He is thorough, and a good listener. I was pleased that he was able to probe to the source of my emotional problem and successfully provide therapy with EMDR.”
– from a former client
“Greg made our work together very comfortable. I have never had any kind of therapy before, and what I was expecting was totally different than what I got – which was great! Greg makes the experience wonderful and rewarding.”
– from a current client
“It’s hard to believe something that has bothered me for so long could be so easy to fix – many thanks!
– from a former client, 3 months after having only 2 EMDR sessions
“He is very skilled in the areas of depression and anxiety.”
– from a former client