Freeing Ourselves From Toxic Ties With the Past – Part 2


The first step in severing your toxic ties with the past is to become aware of some of the possible negative historical influences in your life. You will recall from last month’s column that these influences can be of three types: state dependent recall that floods us with memories sharing the same emotional tone; regression that causes us to approach problems the way we did as a child; and introjects that influence us to display attitudes and values borrowed from our caregivers. Pick up a copy of last month’s Platinum Magazine, or refer to this article online at

The next step is to find a clinical counsellor, social worker or psychologist who specializes in working with “family of origin” and other historical issues. The task of resolving your toxic ties involves integrating these historical influences with your adult skills and experiences. Traditionally, this has been with talking therapy designed to develop insight into the relationship between present-day coping difficulties with formative past experiences. While this time-honoured approach is still in common usage today, there are additional therapies available today, generally referred to as “power therapies”, because they accelerate the healing process.

One of these “power therapies” is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR. It was discovered in 1987 by Dr. Francine Shapiro who noticed by chance that moving one’s eyes back and forth reduced the intensity of negative, upsetting thoughts. The proofing ground for EMDR was Vietnam war combat veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but it has also been shown to be effective with civilian PTSD such as that experienced by victims of sexual assault. The EMDR Association of Canada lists 12 members in Victoria on its Web site at

Although a very powerful healing tool, EMDR can sometimes cause the client to have an overwhelming emotional experience. Recognizing the need of many clients for a more gradual approach to dealing with their feelings, Vancouver-area clinicians Audrey Cook (no relation) and Dr. Rick Bradshaw developed an experimental offshoot to EMDR called One Eye Integration or OEI. OEI has in common with EMDR the client visually tracking the therapist’s fingers, and the fact that they both operate on the root of the problem rather than just provide symptomatic relief.

Unlike EMDR, OEI uses a procedure called “switching” that involves covering and uncovering one eye at a time. This procedure takes advantage of the fact that we often experience strong negative emotion differently when one eye is open, compared to when the other eye is open. Try this by covering one eye and then the other with the inside corner of your palm, next time you feel upset. If you do notice more intensity in one eye than the other, quickly switch away to the calmer eye, and stay there as long as you need to calm down before switching back.

There are currently only two clinicians practising OEI on Vancouver Island at the present time. Contact either me (881-1206) or clinical counsellor, Tanya Bedford (213-1455) for more information.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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