One of my clients said to me the other day, “how do you heal without looking back?” And my answer is that you can’t totally heal without looking back.
And this is a question that sometimes comes up for people in general and clients in particular.
Sometimes people will say, I don’t want to talk about my childhood, I’m coming in to talk about my anxiety (for example).
This is a valid perspective and absolutely their choice. And what I would say is that we need to look at the past, and often the distant past to understand the present.
We need to understand where that anxiety developed. Even if the person is 40 and reports their anxiety came on in their 20s, I am going to be curious about their childhood to understand the underlying beliefs and perspectives that were formed there.
Because these beliefs and perspectives were established in childhood and set the templates for how that person thinks of themselves and the world, how they problem solve, how they form relationships, etc.
The ways I handle this dilemma in therapy is by providing the explanation for why I want to go back and how I think that will help in the healing process.
And especially when it comes up in choosing memories to target for EMDR reprocessing, my job is to help my clients understand their choices, and why I am making the recommendations that I am. It’s my job to help them make informed choices.
There is a lot of healing work that can be done focusing on the present, developing coping strategies, learning to feel their feelings, communication skills, etc.
But the roots of the problem will remain. And then those roots are capable of sprouting new growth (symptoms, problems and issues).
So that is why I want to help my clients look back, and if that is not something they want to do, then perhaps I am not a good fit for them. That’s okay, I am not for everyone and people deserve to get the help they are asking for.