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1 Positive psychology and EMDR: An obvious combination? David C. Blore PhD EMDR Consultant, Facilitator Private Practice, York Visiting lecturer Teesside.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Positive psychology and EMDR: An obvious combination? David C. Blore PhD EMDR Consultant, Facilitator Private Practice, York Visiting lecturer Teesside."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Positive psychology and EMDR: An obvious combination? David C. Blore PhD EMDR Consultant, Facilitator Private Practice, York Visiting lecturer Teesside University Lillian Moore Dip Counselling, Cert ED (FE) EMDR therapist St. Aidan’s Academy, Darlington 1

2 2 Aims of workshop To encourage delegates to think of psychological change as more than just the reduction of negative change To question ourselves as to our roles as EMDR therapists To launch the new EMDR UK & Ireland, SIG on Positive psychology & EMDR

3 3 Agenda Introduction What is Positive Psychology and how does it manifest itself in EMDR? Two case studies Small group work Feedback and ideas Joining the new SIG?

4 4 "Our English language is deficient in some respects. We have the word 'trauma' to denote an unfortunate blow that injures the personality, but as yet we have no word that describes an experience that is fortunate, that strengthens the personality. The closest we come to this is to say it is a blessing, but counting our blessings does not really meet our need for a word directly opposite in meaning to 'trauma'." Margaret Mead 1901-78 Cultural Anthropologist

5 5 19 names for ‘positive change’ Stren conversion (Finkel 1974, 1975) Drawing strength from adversity (McCrae 1984) Positive reinterpretation (Scheier et al 1986) Positive psychological changes (Yalom & Lieberman 1991) Perceived benefits and Construing benefits (e.g. Calhoun & Tedeschi 1991) Transformational coping (e.g. Aldwin 1994) Thriving (O’Leary & Ickovics 1995) Post Traumatic Growth (Tedeschi & Calhoun 1995) Stress related growth (Park et al 1996) Discovery of meaning (Bower et al 1998) Flourishing (Ryff & Singer 1998) Positive illusions (Taylor & Brown 1998) Positive emotions (Folkman & Moskowitz 2000) Adversarial growth (Linley & Joseph 2004) who also use: Blessings Positive by-products Positive adjustment Positive adaptation

6 6 A lesson from history… The approach to psychological trauma in the Western world is overwhelmingly based on negative symptomatology This is understandable because of the priority of healthcare to reduce painful suffering and stems directly from the medical model Historically this negative perspective is atypical. For most of recorded history, the Aristotelian philosophy of positiveness dominated

7 7 We have the English Civil War philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) to thank for psychological egoism a deeply negative view of human nature… …supremely negative ! Hobbes believed that men in a state of nature, that is a state without civil government, are in a war of all against all, in which life is hardly worth living

8 8 Within a 100 years of Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was supporting the Aristotelian position by espousing that humans were born moral and with the potential for good In psychology, McDougall (1820-1903) tried to oppose the negative position by declaring that humans had an empathic instinct

9 9 However, and unfortunately because of the power he wielded, Freud belonged to the Hobbesian school when in 1918 he declared: “I have found little that is good in human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash…” But was this human negativity the artefact of our view of humans? Scheff (1966) warned that a categorisation such as mental illness becomes an identity, thus stabilising the role and reinforcing adoption of the negative human view.

10 10 Maslow’s criticism of the ‘negative only’ view of mental health: “The science of psychology has been far more successful on the negative than on the positive side. It has revealed to us much about man’s shortcomings, his illness, his sins, but little about his potentialities, his virtues, his achievable aspirations, or his full psychological height. It is as if psychology has voluntarily restricted itself to only half its rightful jurisdiction, and that, the darker, meaner half.” (Maslow 1954 p.354)


12 12 Case study 1 16 year old male with anxiety symptoms, Withdrew from peers two year ago, felt he did not ‘fit in’ Struggling to come to school, it was only weeks before his GCSE exams 14 sessions mainly using EMDR Treatment goals were to achieve a reduction in anxiety, to get to school and complete exams To attend bridging week at college and do well there in future His goals were met

13 13 Positive Psychological Change Going out and making more friends A complete transformation when dressed in a suit at his prom, he had achieved self pride and confidence more than he had ever imagined prior to our work I recently saw client in town, he is enjoying college, has more self- assurance and confidently working towards A levels and University Has new friends at college and looking forward to a more positive future He was more able to express himself Eye contact dramatically improved, used to hide behind his hair Body language changed, holding head up, looking confident Continued using self help strategies and other confidence building materials

14 14 Case study 2 45 year old female driving instructor > RTA Lots of trauma symptoms 70 sessions of counselling for travel phobia - to no avail 6 sessions of EMDR, and was able to appreciate that she had really had "therapy" before and after each counselling session because she had to travel 8 miles each way, but it hadn't worked Travel phobia disappeared with EMDR Able to drive again At this point the symptoms had reduced to zero > discharged

15 15 Positive Psychological Change only discovered by virtue of an interview 3 years later Reasoned that if she could train to be a therapist she could visit people in their homes and give them therapy there to combat any travel phobia Changed career over a period of about a year Trained to be a therapist (evening classes) and set up a business Started taking clients from insurers At the point at which I interviewed her she reported being referred clients from the insurance firm she had originally claimed off Now a well respected businesswoman who has helped many others less fortunate than her Considered to be an innovative figure in rehabilitation

16 16 A working definition of PPC “…there is something positively new that signifies a kind of surplus compared to precrisis level…” (Zöellner & Maercker 2006 p.334) Note PPC is not a positive reduction in NPC

17 17 Small group work Divide into groups Pool stories of clients who have a “precrisis surplus” Answer the following questions: What themes of positive change are evident? Research (Blore 2011) suggests the following categories may be identifiable: Wisdom, development of a new direction in life, expansion of skills and social contacts, development in personal philosophy, appreciation of life, aspirations for the future etc. Was EMDR responsible? If no then what? If yes what part of EMDR? Consider therapeutic relationship, integral use of PCs, future templates, float forward targets, EMDR +/- personality factors etc.

18 18 Special Interest Group The following are the outline objectives of the SIG: To bring together members of EMDR UK & Ireland who share a common interest in Positive psychology as applied to EMDR To foster awareness of a 'total adaptive outcome' of EMDR i.e. not just the ability of EMDR to reduce negative psychological symptomatology, but to additionally examine Positive Psychological Change including Post Traumatic Growth, Performance Enhancement and the development of the Maslowvian principle of an individual's full 'psychological height'

19 19 Special Interest Group These objectives would be achieved by: Encouraging members to contribute to EMDR conferences, (a symposium is planned for EABCT Conference in Edinburgh in 2014), other related presentations, writing of papers for publication Acting as a resource/ support for EMDR researchers as well as fostering links to other appropriate organisations e.g. members of other National and International EMDR Associations as well as other Positive Psychology Associations e.g. the UK Centre for Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP)

20 20 Thank you for listening and taking part David Blore SIG temporary chairperson Lillian Moore SIG temporary secretary

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