Author, Alice Stricklin, LMFT, MFT is a trainer for PTI, Personal Transformation Institute
Alice has a special interest in how to work with Christian clients with S.A.F.E. EMDR. She is in private practice in Lebanon, TN.
I identify myself as several things. I am a mom, a wife, a marriage and family therapist, a trauma therapist, a friend, a Christian. With each part of me a commonality among all, is relationship. I can’t seem to get away from it. It shows up in all I do, and every part of who I am. And at the center of every relationship I find me. And the me that shows up varies with each relationship. Sometimes that’s necessary sometimes it’s not….but it is what it is. The same is true for us all. The things we do in the presence of others, comes up….in the presence of others. In PTI we refer to these things that we do as The Answer. The Answer is those things we do to stay safe or stay connected in relationships. And if we use those answers over and over, we tend to get really good at them. And a pattern of relating to others begins.
In my work over the years I have seen another triadic relationship emerge with all my clients, the triadic relationship of emotion, physicality and spirituality. Some clients come in dominant in one over the others. Some come in disconnected from all three. The use of EMDR therapy is such a natural organic tool that when used, seems to balance out this triad and clients experience more connection to their whole selves.
Many Christian clients come in disconnected from their emotions, their body, and God. I could go into all kinds of theories and rants about why that is the case in this modern church age; but I wont. What I will share is when we begin to integrate their spiritual concerns, worries, blocks, into the EMDR process, more happens than what they came in for. They experience an emergence of the natural order of the triad. They begin to experience healing in their relationships. They begin to feel connected to their emotions and their body. And they begin to experience growth and authenticity in their relationship with God.
For a Christian, living out of their faith system means to learn how to Love God, love self, and love others. The EMDR process is a beautiful tool that allows this to be attainable for Christian clients.
In my practice I also see a lot of people wounded by the church or by others who have identified themselves as Christians. Sometimes these wound experiences were violent and extremely abusive. Other times it’s pervasive emotional wound experiences that confuse and overwhelm a system with doubt. These clients present extremely guarded and hurt and therapy. The slow climb to trust is tedious and often times feels insurmountable for them and me. At times it can be a struggle to even identify, “where do we begin?”.
In all scenarios though one thing remains the same; relationships. Relationship with family of origin, caregivers, present friendships, present intimate relationships, relationship in their current place of worship and relationship with God all carry patterns. As we notice the patterns emerge we begin to see the imbalance. And from there, the treatment process can begin.
In PTI one of the core principles is non-violence. This concept of non-violence in therapy means we do not impose on our clients, we are collaborative, we are patient, we ask permission. In my personal relationship with God, I find the non-violent principle as Biblical. When I can keep these principles as the foundation of how I walk with people in the therapeutic journey, healing happens. All that to say, the healing process is done in relationship. And that starts with me. Before they come in. My foundation is set. My ability to be grounded in my own trust in my relationship with God allows me to be in the present moment, in a non-violent way, with them.
My passion is to share what I have with others. On September 7 and 8, 2018 I am launching a training on ‘Working with Spirituality in EMDR: A Christian Perspective’. In this 2 day training I will share a way to conceptualize a case through the lens of relationship. I will share tools I have used with clients that help balance out the triadic system. And I offer a way to see and work with clients from the core Biblical Principles of non-violence.
Therapist will experience many of the tools I use throughout the training, because what I have learned through my own journey, is when I can authentically live out of my own spiritual connection, my relationship to clients is the starting point for change. In our relationship they experience safety, security, authenticity, and a genuine care.
My guiding principles are: Be Still and Know God, love thy neighbor, let your gentleness be evident to all, trust in the Lord with all your heart, see people as a creation of God. I hope you will join me.