June 17, 2021

Healing From Emotional Abuse: EMDR Therapy: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: with Patrick Monette


Can you heal from abuse? What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute, over 28,800 people every day. And the sad fact is, we still don't talk about it enough. Healing from emotional abuse isn't a band-aid situation, but it doesn't have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the world have been impacted by their narcissist, yours doesn't have to. To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and founder of the Healing from Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F Cohen.


MARISSA: Overcoming narcissism and healing from emotional abuse are so important to your mental health and to living a life filled with freedom, confidence and peace. Today, we're going to be talking to Patrick Monet, who is a Trauma Informed Therapist, EMDR Therapist, and he's just hilarious. But before we start, I want to brainstorm ways that I can help ease your healing journey. Imagine you're standing on a cliff and on the other side of a deep, deep canyon is a life that you dream of. A partner who connects with you, supports you and empowers you, someone who makes you smile and laugh a life filled with freedom, confidence and peace. I have been where you are now, standing on the edge, dreaming of that life. And I've built the bridge between where you are now and that dream that seems so far away. Let me walk you across the bridge and literally hand you the life of your dreams. It's possible! I've walked this path with 1000s of survivors before who were in your place who now live a free, confident and peaceful life. Let's walk this path together. Don't waste any more time feeling lonely, worthless or exhausted. It's not worth it and you deserve to live a happy life. Schedule a call with me today at scheduleacallwithmarissa.com.


Welcome back to healing from emotional abuse. Today we have an awesome guest and we've been vibing for the past 10 minutes just chatting about Jewish guilt and Catholic guilt and being silly. So today we have Patrick Monette. He's a licensed mental health, addiction and certified trauma counselor, located in northern New York. He's also a certified EMDR Therapist and EMDRIA Approved Consultant and trained couples counselor. He's got a great resume. His work focuses on helping people learn healthy coping skills and resourcing as part of their trauma treatment. He has taught at local universities and maintains a private practice focusing on couples work and trauma informed treatment, as well as gender issues, anger management and co-occurring disorders. He's actively engaged in a local community drug court system as a mental health consultant and educator. Patrick is fluent in English and Spanish and offers treatment in both languages. Welcome on Patrick. Jeez your work is great.


PATRICK: Thanks Marissa, I sound so fancy. So it's so nice, thank you. I'm so honored to be on your show and to connect with you. And I can't think of a better way to end a crazy week and then hanging out together. So I'm super excited to be here.


MARISSA: Thank you, I feel the exact same way. So would you mind outside of your intro just like telling us a little bit about yourself, what you do, what you enjoy...


PATRICK: So you know, as I was saying, it's like I'm pretty low key. So I'm in private practice. I'm a mental health counselor. And I love working with a variety of people. In my private practice, especially with COVID my practice is completely online. So I've been able to modify all that where I do individual therapy, group therapy. And I also started offering online couple retreats, which has been really powerful, which I really love. So EMDR is a trauma informed treatment, so I also work with that. I assistant in trainings and I also do a lot of consultation for people who are learning EMDR, which I just love as well. So it's a really nice blend of different professional experiences.


MARISSA: That's awesome. So I have heard so many positive things about EMDR therapy, and how it's helped sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. Would you mind just giving us like the very basic about what EMDR is?


PATRICK: Sure. So EMDR stands for Eye Movement De-sensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, which is a mouthful. It was created in the 80s by Dr. Francine Shapiro. And the basic version that I can say is that it helps to identify targets or issues that you've been struggling with whether it's specific trauma or disturbing events or upsetting events, that gets stuck in certain parts of your brain. And with EMDR interventions, we're able to help the brain communicate more efficiently to be able to take those disturbing events and make them more adaptive, so they're not causing you so much pain and harm. So you can be, I don't want to say move on, but so they're not harming you and as painful as they once were.


MARISSA: Wow, that's really awesome. I'm still not entirely understanding of like the intricacies of that.


PATRICK: So basically what happens is, for example, when you go about your regular day, and then you go home, and you rest, and you go into your REM sleep, your deep sleep, your brain is able to process everything that's happened during that day. So when you get up in the next day, you're like, okay, I had breakfast, we did this, we chatted, and then there isn't any distress really. When something traumatic happens, the brain cannot process it, it's almost like too big. If you think of it like a conveyor belt, that memory, that event is too big to go down into the other parts. So it gets lodged. And then it gets stuck on that part of the brain, which then leads into a whole bunch of other issues of, you know, when we're talking about PTSD, flashbacks, nightmares, other anxiety, depression. That's why a lot of people when they can't, quote-unquote, move past a trauma, they either develop anxiety, depression, I see a lot of people who develop addiction related issues, because they're trying to eradicate the pain.


MARISSA: That makes a lot more sense. Honestly, thinking about it as like a survivor, I feel like the most common immediate response is if I just stopped thinking about it, it'll go away. I want this to go away...


PATRICK: If I wash it away. 


MARISSA: Time will make it go away, because that's not true. And so EMDR therapy breaks that down, and like allows your brain to process it. That is super cool.


PATRICK: So if you think of it, the trauma is like a giant iceberg in your brain, and then by doing what we call bilateral stimulation, which is a really natural intervention, it melts down that iceberg, and then it can go into the channel into your brain, where it doesn't make the event get erased, but you can move on with your life without being harpooned back to that pain anytime you might be potentially triggered or reminded of that event.


MARISSA: How long does it take generally, for somebody who has experienced severe domestic violence or sexual assault, to really be able to move forward using EMDR?


PATRICK: That's a great question. And it's really case by case because it depends on the severity of the attack, of the abuse, of the violence. Every person that I work with, when we say we're trauma informed care, that is, for me, it means we're taking this slow. Not because I want you to be in pain longer, but because safety has been bastardized in your life. We want to look at security, we want to do the safe and sound in the way of let's figure out what you are able to address, and what you actually need to work on. Because everyone needs different things. Sometimes it's guilt, anger, shame, it might be different aspects of their lives that are affected by the trauma. I just take my time to really see, build that strong therapeutic relationship with clients to see what is it that you actually want to work on? And let me see what I can do to support you on that. Now, when you get into the EMDR therapy itself, it's really a case by case scenario of everyone's individual brain processing. Of how how much EMDR they might need, how much time they need to process it. In addition to what I see is, are they still in the relationship? Are they still in a situation? Which is very different compared to if they're out, that freedom, it's all of those, if their basic needs are being met. So I kind of look at all these different components when I'm meeting with someone.


MARISSA: That makes a lot of sense. So in my mind, I saw it as a resource for after people leave, but people who are still in abusive relationships, they come and work with you too? 


PATRICK: Yes, yes. 


MARISSA: Do you know like, how it affects them? Or if doing EMDR has encouraged people to leave faster? Have you gotten that kind of response? 


PATRICK: See, I think a lot of times, and I'm sure you've seen this with your own experiences and other people is there's that expectation sometimes that people when they're in those situations of just leave, turn it off. If it was that easy, it would be. But there's that deep emotional and psychological component going on when you're in those abusive and destructive situations. A lot of times what I've noticed with my people is when we're doing EMDR it's kind of like they're going through a snowstorm and we're giving them some additional support to get clarity. So when you're doing some other trauma informed care treatments, you have to talk about the trauma and you desensitize, you decrease the trauma. But with EMDR, you don't actually have to talk about it as much. You identify what the target is, what the problem is, and it's more about this beautiful journey of what do you believe about yourself? So, for example, when someone stays in that relationship, I'd say, so when you think of this abusive relationship, what is the negative belief that you're telling yourself? And being able to look at the negative beliefs, and help the clients just sort of build a little bit more resilience and clarity into what's going on. Because when you're in those situations, there's usually such a high level of psychological damage going on, that you don't even know who you are sometimes.


MARISSA: That is so true. And that's something that I also identify in my coaching is that you lose yourself in abuse, because they program you to feel differently than you might actually feel and take away the aspects of your life and of your identity, that might be very personal to you. Wow, that's really, really cool. I'm so happy that that exists, and that that's getting more clout, and more attention now. 


So let's get off the EMDR topic, although I could talk about this with you all day, because I think it's awesome. We were having a separate conversation before we started about guilt, and how guilt in different religions plays a role in just how people interact. But specifically what I want to talk about, because you come from a Catholic upbringing, is how Christianity and how Catholicism view abuse, and the guilt of staying in an abusive situation.


PATRICK: It's so hard because most of us grew up to believe, you know, if we grew up in a belief system, that that's supposed to be our protection. That that's where we're supposed to be safe. But the more [audio break 12:02] there is, and a lot of these situations, and how that division of power is used. We're in a religious system.


MARISSA: That makes sense. And I can speak from Judaism. I'm not Hasidic or religious really, but in very Hasidic communities, which Catholicism in my opinion is like a more religious aspect of Christianity, and I could be very incorrect, so please correct me if I'm wrong. But in Hasidic communities, they don't go outside of their community at all. Everybody takes their questions and their problems to the Rabbi, to the head Rabbi, he's the person in charge. So in domestic violence in Hasidic communities, the Rabbi is the one who gets to say, well, what are you doing to anger your husband? Or what are you doing wrong? You, the wife, generally, are the peacemaker in the household and so you need to be the one fixing the problem.


PATRICK: I don't want to generalize, I can only speak to my experience in certain things. I grew up where about sinning and when you make that vow in the Catholic Church, it's forever and all these different things. But I've also seen where there's that abusive thing of, you're going to disappoint God by ending this marriage or by leaving it, or look at the damage, it's a lot of victim blaming. 


MARISSA: That's a good way to put it. 


PATRICK: And that shame, I mean, not even talking about guilt, let's latch on to that shame of you're letting God down. You put that on top of someone who's being abused in every aspect of abuse that there is, and it's such a deadly cocktail. I've also seen people, amazing advocates in the Catholic Church. It's hard because during the last few years if we're going to keep it real, the coming to light about all the abuse in the Catholic Church towards children. So it's really like a mushroom of different issues right?


MARISSA: Yeah. I mean, I definitely see your point. I mean, it's a person by person conversation. So there are some rabbis who'd be like, get out. And there are some rabbits would be like, no, you stay, this is your problem. And I'm sure it's the same thing with priests and pastors and everybody, it's a very person by person basis.


PATRICK: What I have seen in some experiences with clients is sometimes they get into those situations where they are blamed. You're not praying hard enough, you're not doing this. And I'm a person of faith, I love God. It's a huge part of my -- I don't identify as Catholic. I'm more spiritual, but there is a place for prayer and there's a place for action and therapy. 




PATRICK: And I think they can dance really well, too. I mean, in my life they have, but in other people, it's hard because there's such abuse in the spiritual world and or in the religious world. I always go to is like, if this doesn't feel right, it's probably not right for me.


MARISSA: That's a good way to look at it. And I think that a lot of religion is kind of just how you consume it and how you process it. Because there's different sects of every religion that read the same texts, but just observe differently. And so when it comes to trauma, and it comes to domestic violence, because it's a private issue, people don't really know how to handle it. So a lot of people turn to religion. I guess my biggest concern with that is because the text is susceptible to being --  like you can read it and understand it a different way.


PATRICK: The interpretation, and it's usually not in favor of women or anyone that's not  a like white male. In my experiences, I could be wrong of the view, but it's...


MARISSA: I tend to agree with that.


PATRICK: It's like come on, we got to keep it real. Things have to evolve. And one of the things is, whether it's religion or not, is that shame and the secrecy that is so damaging to people who are experiencing violence and abuse.


MARISSA: And then if you if you interpret the text in a way that in order for you to leave, your partner needs to have cheated on you or asked for a divorce. That's so limiting, because in my opinion, and I could be wrong, but I don't think God or Jesus or Allah, like anyone, I don't think that being wants you to be unhappy or in a dangerous position. And so by looking at the text and saying point blank, no, you can't leave until that person asks to leave or until that person leaves, that's so dangerous.


PATRICK: Right. And it also takes away freewill choice, which that's part of the human experience.


MARISSA: Right. But I think that the religion, like when people interpret it that way, it consumes their whole life and they're not able to act on freewill...


PATRICK: Agreed, that they're supposed to sacrifice for the greater good in a way. Even though that version of the greater good may not be accurate or really true or loving.


MARISSA: Right, absolutely. So let's go back to your professional experience, you don't just do EMDR, you also do Addiction Therapy and Trauma Informed Therapies and stuff like that. So how often do you see like an overlap in other areas that probably stemmed from abuse or sexual assault, especially with addiction?


PATRICK: I would say, if I even like made it a little bit broader, if we just put in terms of trauma in general, I would say, probably like 98% of people that come in my door have some aspect of trauma.




PATRICK: I think when we classify trauma it used to be 9-11, it used to be Vets. It used to be very specific populations. But the word trauma actually means a wound. So if you changed trauma for wound, how many people do we know that are wounded? 


MARISSA: Everybody. Everybody has experiences that shaped them.


PATRICK: From COVID, to sexual assaults, a physical assault, to addiction to a million different things, to losing a job, to losing a child, to losing a relationship. And I think when you're doing trauma informed care, you have that broad view of this person has strength, they have resilience, because they've survived but there's some injuries, there's some wounds there, and maybe I can help them find ways to mend it and to move forward in a healthier way.


MARISSA: If there was one thing like one routine change, or one small activity that people could add to their daily routines that might alleviate some of that, do you have any like recommendations? Or do you have like any ideas of maybe something that you've done with other people?


PATRICK: This is going to sound funny, but I have clients ask them what they're feeling. Because how many of us are disconnected from our emotions? And if I don't have a relationship with my emotions, I'm probably not going to get very far. 


MARISSA: That's very fair. 


PATRICK: So it's just a check in throughout the day of how am I feeling right now? How am I feeling? And not having to necessarily do anything, but to develop our awareness. Because when we don't deal with our emotions, when we don't have a healthy relationship with them, it's sort of like building a house on top of swamp land, it's probably not going to go very well.


MARISSA: That makes so much sense. Just like becoming more self aware allows us to recognize and work through something that we need to process in that moment.


PATRICK: Right. And it sounds simple, like oh, that's not really profound. But if we put it through the lens of someone who's gone through something traumatic, a lot of times people, all of their energy is to avoid all the emotions. Because it's not safe. It's painful. It's scary. Like you said, you just want to forget it. So you want me to talk about my feelings, that could be opening up a barrel of monkeys, that's really dangerous.


MARISSA: I think that that's something that's a really important thing to do is be able to check in. But what do you recommend starting doing that while in a therapy session, or with somebody who's licensed who might be able to help somebody through it? Because I know that right after my abuse, if I was trying to do a check-in, I probably would have like, launched myself off a bridge and I'm not saying that to be funny. Like I would have tried to attempt suicide.


PATRICK: Definitely! And when I'm working with someone, especially with EMDR there are very specific techniques that I teach clients, almost every client, of how to help improve their emotional regulations that -- going back to the brain function, that helped them sort of develop ways to ride those waves of emotion instead of being drowned by them. So definitely reaching out for help, someone that can be there for you that's objective that can give you specific skills to improve your emotional functioning.



If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.marisafayecohen.com/private-coaching. That's www.marissafayecohen.com/private-coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made for you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone and hurt and live a free, confident and peaceful life. Don't forget to subscribe to the Healing from Emotional Abuse Podcast and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen and Instagram at Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We'd love to see you there.

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