Approaching CHRONIC PAIN, and Phantom Limb Pain –
Find Hope Through EMDR
Sometimes pain seems to have no useful purpose. It is not telling us the very useful message: “I’m getting damaged – Watch Out!” It is droning on with a frequent (or constant) and, apparently meaningless message.
You may have visited many doctors or alternative health care providers and not found a solution. You may be feeling frustration, anger, rage, despair, depression, or all of the above! All this is understandable when your body is telling you something is wrong, you feel powerless to do anything about it, and apparently everyone else is equally powerless.
This situation is very tragic. Out of the hopelessness, some people become severely addicted to pain-killing drugs. Some commit suicide. This issue is therefore nothing to neglect or give up on, particularly since EMDR has given hope to many.
Looking at Phantom Limb Pain (PLP) gives us the opportunity to learn a great deal, and in the case of EMDR therapy, it came through a compassionate therapist’s attempt to help an 8-year-old girl at a Cancer/AIDS orphanage in Bogota, Columbia. Her leg had been amputated due to cancer. She still had phantom limb pain. Linda Vanderlaan, An EMDR therapist from California, used EMDR to at least help reduce the trauma over the loss of her leg. Linda didn’t expect more than that. However, after the EMDR therapy, the girl reported that she no longer had the Phantom Limb Pain! Even the EMDR therapists were surprised, and then inspired to research to see if it could help others as well. Robert Tinker, PhD and Sandra Wilson, PhD were the first researchers of the Phantom Limb Protocol.
With Francine Shapiro’s discovery of EMDR and its amazing ability to help people resolve and put to rest negative and distressing experiences in their past, there is hope for pain conditions that are memory-related. Research successfully demonstrated that the PLP Protocol can eliminate Phantom Limb Pain. Other pain problems have been shown to be reduced or eliminated by EMDR therapy’s Pain Protocol and the self-help skills that EMDR therapists teach their clients.
If the cause of the pain is a known occasion, that event can be treated with EMDR. The pain itself can be desensitized to a degree with EMDR. Coping methods can be taught and strengthened with EMDR therapy.
If the cause of the pain is unknown, it may be that there was a very early experience in the person’s life that is beyond the reach of conscious memory. Usually if something happened at age 5 or later, we have clear memory and can address it with the EMDR Standard Protocol. That can resolve some pain issues, because the body remembers our trauma. The body wants to be acknowledged that it was hurt.
If that does not work, EMDR therapists have often found their clients had earlier trauma. Then we need a gentle protocol designed to access early memory, such as the EMDR Early Trauma Protocol. You may need to seek a therapist who has experience helping people with early trauma. This is especially true if you have any tendency to “leave your body” or “numb-out” to help yourself get away from distress. Under these circumstances you need a specialist in treating dissociation.
All EMDR therapists should screen for dissociation. More and more EMDR therapists are experienced in treating dissociative conditions.
One woman had chronic neck pain. When she became an Early Trauma Protocol client, the therapy helped her remember a terrifying experience — being raped orally when she was a toddler. This horrible trauma had been forgotten by her mind but not by her body. When it was processed with EMDR, the pain finally was gone. Its message was finally listened to in a meaningful way. Her past was not truly in her past. Apparently, the body does want to be respected, and when it is not, it will not shut up.
Please listen kindly to your body. We wish you well in overcoming pain. Please turn to the Certified EMDR therapists on this website who treat pain issues.
To find a therapist who can help you with chronic pain, please go to FIND A THERAPIST and choose your region. Looking at the list of cities below the Region Name, scroll down to ISSUES and click on Chronic Pain to find the specialists who treat Pain in your community. This Directory only lists the highest trained EMDR therapists of any EMDR directory we know of. We list fully EMDRIA Certified EMDR therapists.
If you don’t find a therapist near you listing a chronic pain specialty, please call our nearby therapists to ask if they are comfortable treating pain. Often they are, but simply haven’t thought to put it in their list of specialties.
If we do not yet serve your community with an EMDR Therapist directory, please go to the EMDR International Association website below:
Click on FIND A THERAPIST
Type in your zip code
Select CERTIFIED EMDR THERAPIST