"EMDR Therapy at St George's"

About: Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust / Specialist psychotherapy services

(as a service user),

I was referred to the Specialist Psychotherapy Service, following a long period of CBT at Woodseats Medical Centre and I first met with Catherine for the first time in May 2016. My work in CBT had given rise to the possibility that I was experiencing PTSD, that would benefit for EMDR therapy.

My first meetings with Catherine were around considering the most appropriate treatment pathway and I was made to feel very much part of the decision making. Having had periods of both struggles with my mental health, as well as psychiatric and psychotherapy interventions, I was immediately encouraged that our discussions around the right treatment for me at this point in time would be something that I could commit to working on in order to benefit the lives of the people around me, mainly my wife and daughter. At this time I was unable or unwilling to consider that I might be valuable enough to think about what changes might improve my quality of life.

 Catherine and I agreed that EMDR may be a helpful therapy to try and identify how my experiences had not only led to how I felt about myself and the world around me, but also, how these experiences were affecting my day to day living and impacting on my perception of self. 

 We met every 3 months or so to keep in touch, while I was on the waiting list for the service, which wouldn't start until October 2017. Although this was a long time to wait, being able to meet with Catherine throughout this time was really beneficial and starting therapy was made that bit easier, through having come to become familiar with my therapist and the environment the work would take part in. 

 Unfortunately, during the waiting time, my mental health became difficult to manage and I started to fixate on suicide, to the point where I had made specific plans for how and when. In the middle of this time, I had another appointment with Catherine, which I did attend and looking back, this was a probably one of the most important decisions I had ever made. Without having any desire to share my worst thoughts with Catherine, going into the appointment, I started to share what I was thinking about and how I had arrived at the conclusion that this would be the most beneficial thing to do for my wife and daughter as I was somehow making their lives miserable by being with me. Catherine was so empathetic, non-judgemental and calming that I realised that I really just needed some specialist help and the thoughts I had become convinced were absolute facts, might be my illness needing some support. Catherine spoke with me about how concerned she was for me and how she would like to contact the Community Mental Health Team to see me at my home. Again, this was a decision that I was involved with and having now spoken to someone about what had been happening to me, there was a small desire to see what happened next. The community team supported me over the next few months and I started to recover slowly. 

 The waiting time for my EMDR was, in the end, helpful as I would not have been able to make use of the therapy during the previous few months, due to the level of depression I was experiencing. In October 2017, Catherine and I started our work together and met weekly throughout my treatment.

 The first few sessions were about planning and allowing me to get used to what would be expected of me. We spoke about goals that I had for our work and how the work would undoubtedly be very challenging at times. I was very serious about putting as much effort in as I could and working with Catherine gave me a sense that while we were in that room, each week, I was safe to share some incredibly difficult memories from my past. At times I would wonder whether I was doing EMDR right, as I struggled with my own expectations for myself. Catherine was so amazingly reassuring that there was no clear progression, and I was encouraged to just see what came up. 

 For months I would sit in a chair at the start of each session and think that I wouldn't able to come up with anything than we had discussed previously, and every week I'd be amazed at how we were able to draw more and more out the ordered compartments of my memories. I would eventually come to look forward to our sessions and both appreciate and value the relationship that we had developed through some very difficult and challenging work. Having to be so open and honest with a person and have that person provide a consistent environment of safety, undoubtedly had a profound effect on me, especially as I have spent much of my life putting effort in to not forming close relationship. This really encouraged me to consider how I could take this experience with me and start to explore social connections, not just to benefit my wife and give her a husband to attend things with, but for the first time, myself. 

 We worked together for 18 months and as the therapy was coming to and end, I started to feel that I had been allowed to play around with ideas for what I wanted to happen next in my life, and how being now aware of some of my values would enable me to move on with a completely new confidence. 

 Our work and having been given the opportunity to spend the last 18 months with Catherine led me to looking at the type of work I would benefit from and how I was allowed to decide whether a job was right for me, based on my values. I was so please to tell Catherine about the job that I got after our work ended in April 2018 and how well it aligned with what we were discussing, when we met 6 months after our last session. I got the feeling of genuine happiness from Catherine, that I was doing so well and I cannot deny that meeting for possibly that last time was very difficult for me. I had become to consider Catherine as not only a truly gifted and accomplished professional in her field, but also a person that I would happily chat with enthusiastically had we met under other circumstance. This for me is the bitter sweet ending to my experience of my time at the Specialist Psychotherapy Service in Sheffield. However, as I said to Catherine at our last meeting, I will always keep memories of our work with me, as some kind of toolbox to help with whatever comes my way in the future.

I cannot thank or speak highly enough of Catherine. Her hard work with me has profoundly changed my life and my opinion about self. I would happily share my experience with anyone and wish nothing but the absolute best for Catherine and those who are fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to work with her.


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Response from Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust 10 months ago
Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust
Submitted on 28/11/2019 at 09:35
Published on Care Opinion at 09:35

Thank you for taking the time to provide such an open, detailed and heartfelt account of your experience in the Specialist Psychotherapy Service. From what you say both your therapist (Catherine) and the therapy (EMDR) were ideally matched to what you needed and, together with your own efforts and the support from the Community Mental Health team, helped you make important changes in your life.

I hope that your feedback will encourage and inform other people who may be unsure about what to expect when they come into therapy and reassure them that it is possible to change in a positive direction

Joe Curran

Consultant Adult Psychotherapist

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