Case Study

Case Study

Doing Our Own Work Differently: An EMDR Portal to Our Clients’ Healing

By Dafna Lender

September/October 2021

I’ve been in therapy, mostly psychodynamic talk therapy, for most of my adult life, including during the 24 years I’ve been a practicing therapist. We therapists know, of course, that it’s important to be active in our own therapy or supervision, and we’ve all heard the common wisdom that if we’re blocked or avoiding certain themes or feelings in our own lives, those difficulties might transfer to our clients, altering their paths of exploration and experience.

As a therapist, I knew how to do my own talk therapy, and I could recognize and discuss many of my patterns, even when I couldn’t break them. In the starkest example, I suffered for years in my marriage, but I couldn’t bring myself to separate. After I switched to a different treatment style and had two parallel breakthroughs—one of my own, and one with a client, Camron—I realized that it’s not enough just to see our own therapists and supervisors. To continuously help our clients, we have to be courageous and push ourselves beyond the treatment methods and modalities that we gravitate toward for ourselves, so that we can go deeper into our own pain. I experienced this firsthand when I went deeper into the recesses of my unresolved grief and loss of my childhood. Exploring that pain made me become less afraid to do the same with my clients.

Deflecting Underlying Issues

Camron is a vibrant, quick-witted, hilarious 24-year-old woman with whom I’ve had the privilege of working for…

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