Aleana met with Irene for counselling when she was in her mid twenties. She complained of depression, crying spells, and overwhelming feelings of guilt. Aleana said that she had been depressed for many years. She’d had counselling before but it hadn’t been very helpful.
Aleana’s father had died from cancer when she was 13. One day he and Aleana argued about her wanting to stay out late. That same night he died. Since that time Aleana felt responsible for her Dad’s death. She told no one how she felt responsible because she was too frightened that she would be blamed. Besides as the days and months and years passed Aleana wanted to be strong for her mother’s sake. But inside she felt deeply guilty.
Around age 17 Aleana finally told her mother about the argument she and her father had had the night before he died and how she was sure that she was responsible for her dad’s death. Her mother was distressed Aleana had felt this way all these years and reassured Aleana, not just once but many times in the years following, that she was not responsible for her dad’s death. Even though Aleana knew it was irrational for her to feel responsible for her dad’s death she couldn’t shake the guilt and the depression.
I suggested EMDR. EMDR is a researched and proven treatment used by trained mental health professionals to help clients resolve trauma.Like many people who hear about EMDR Aleana was doubtful that EMDR could be helpful. However she agreed to give EMDR a try anyway and after two sessions of EMDR Aleana was no longer depressed. Her guilt feelings were no more and instead she was able to reflect lovingly on the memories she had of her father. But Aleana wasn’t convinced that EMDR had been helpful. Though she was symptom free she scheduled a follow-up session for six weeks later. To her delight her gains held. Instead of talking about her father Aleana spent the time talking about her up-coming wedding plans, and her career aspirations! In an email a couple of years later, Aleana wrote just to say, “Thanks, Irene, life has gone on and I’ve had some challenges, but nothing related to guilt about me causing my dad’s death. It’s still such a relief to be free from that burden.”
You may wish to read more EMDR success stories. EMDR Cananda is a resource site for the public to learn about EMDR and/or to find EMDR trained clinicians. At Couples In Step EMDR is used as an adjunct to couple’s therapy. Irene Oudyk-Suk is a trained EDMR clinician.
*The person in the above account has given permission to use her story. For reasons of confidentiality, identifying details are disguised.