Episode 32: How EMDR Can Help You Heal with Melissa Parks, LCSW
Episode 32: How EMDR Can Help You Heal with Melissa Parks, LCSW
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy can sound overwhelming at first, but Melissa Parks, LCSW, breaks everything down on this week’s episode. She talks about the benefits of EMDR, expectations during the treatment process, and why she has developed such a passion for this type of therapy.
Find out more about Melissa:
Alyssa Scolari: [00:00:23]
Hey all what’s up. Welcome to another episode of the Light After Trauma podcast. I’m your host, Alyssa Scolari. And we have here with us today, Melissa Parks. So you have Melissa and Alyssa, so it’s going to be a good time. Melissa is an EMDR therapist, as well as a couples therapist. She is devoted to helping you stop the cycle of conflict in your relationships and to understand your nervous system in order to experience more joy, she has been using her expertise and her humor on social media to de-stigmatize mental health, you will often hear her use the phrase you make sense.
So just a quick side note, I found Melissa on Tik-Tok. She is a bomb Tik-Tok maker. I thoroughly enjoy watching all of your Tik-Tok. So when she says that she uses humor as part of her therapy, she is not kidding.
Her Tik-Toks are really funny and I really appreciate them. So, hi, Melissa. Welcome. And thank you for all that you do.
Melissa Parks: [00:01:56]
Hey, I’m so glad to be here. Thank you so much for having me. It’s a true honor. I’m excited.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:02:01]
I’m so excited for you to be here and to talk about a topic that quite honestly, I don’t really know a whole lot about. So this is going to be a major learning experience for me as well as a lot of the listeners. So would you be able to share a little bit more on like what you do, who you are and could you break down that like gigantic acronym?
That is EMDR.
Melissa Parks: [00:02:26]
Yes. Yes, absolutely. Well, like you so beautifully said, I am a therapist, a couples therapists, EMDR therapist. I do coaching. I do consultation. I do lots of things, but I treat clients in the state of South Carolina and I am so passionate about that. I came into the field and have been licensed for 17 years, and I still feel just as passionate, if not, even more passionate than I was when I first started, I really am on fire for all this stuff.
In terms of EMDR trauma-focused stuff, attachment focused stuff. It’s just my favorite. It’s just one of my favorite things. So I’m excited to be able to talk about this today to maybe help bridge the understanding for folks because you know, it can be kind of, you know, intimidating when you just, the acronym, like you said, is a little intimidating: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
That’s a mouthful.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:03:26]
Yes, it is.
Melissa Parks: [00:03:27]
It’s like what is Well I’d love to take some time to explain some about it and then. Open up for questions. Definitely. But Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is an evidence-based treatment model, which just means that it has extensive research and it’s been proven .It has proven outcomes and way back when it was only used to treat trauma, but now we know that it can treat trauma, it can treat complex trauma, it can treat a myriad of issues, including distressing symptoms, like chronic depression, anxiety, just a whole host of things. So it’s not just trauma.
And it’s based on a model that theorizes that our current symptoms are a result of unprocessed memories from our past that are showing up in our present. So for example, the brain may have had an experience from the past and it was unable to integrate all the components of that experience. And so what happens is our amazing nervous system comes up for us to protect us, to keep us sane and it fragments that experience into pieces.
And that’s what we see in our current day are those fragments of the experience as our symptoms. Overwhelming feelings, body sensations, whatever they are. That’s what our symptoms are. That’s what this EMDR model is based on. It’s basically saying our past is in our present.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:05:04]
I gotcha. And when you say just to, and I don’t mean to interrupt, I just had a quick thought, when you say unprocessed memories, do you mean repressed memories that are stored in our subconscious that haven’t come to conscious, or could it be both, both repressed memories and suppressed memory. So things that we can recall, but just haven’t really digested or integrated.
Melissa Parks: [00:05:29]
Right, right, right. I would say all the above, I would say all the above and when we’re talking, you know, cause I would say all of us have unprocessed memories. So, I mean, we all do, but when it comes to trauma, that’s a different story. When it comes to trauma, that’s a little bit more in depth, a little bit more intense because with a trauma experience we have an experience that’s too much, too soon, too much for too long or too little, for too long.
So think like neglect. And in those situations, the signals from the amygdala, the fear center of the brain are so much, are so intense that the top part of our brain, which usually down-regulates and helps soothe that fear is gone. And this experience causes the integrative functions in the brain to fail.
And so that’s where we have that fragmenting that happens. So this is more of what, where I’m talking about the fragmented pieces as it relates to trauma. But yes, I think we all have unprocessed memories. The research talks about this and we learn about this when we’re initially being trained in EMDR.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:06:43]
Wow. So, so what does that look like in practice? From what I understand, there’s lots of, and this could just be one of my own myths or beliefs, there’s lots of tapping that happens. Am I right on that one?
Melissa Parks: [00:07:01]
Yes, that’s what EMDR is known for. But so before I go into that, which is really helpful. So with all that, I just said that, you know, we have these fragmented parts, these assimilated parts of a memory that are showing up in our present. This is why EMDR is so awesome because EMDR is a bottom up brain approach.
It’s a treatment of association. So it helps us associate those dissociated parts. And when, I mean, by bottom up, so a lot of treatments out there spend a lot of time in that top part of our brain, which is our more sophisticated part of our brain, which holds more of our thinking stuff, the way that we rationalize.
And we think about things and those are helpful too. But if we have trauma. And if we have all these fragmented pieces that are coming up from our past, we can’t think those away. Our body is taking over. And so EMDR comes to help us from the bottom part of the brain to help us associate those things and assimilate those things.
And this is why, you know, it’s really important to just put that out there and recognize the impact of EMDR from that perspective, how it treats the brain and how we integrate in that way. But that’s what EMDR is known for is the tapping, right. Or the eye movements.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:08:21]
That’s what I’ve always heard. Yeah, I’m sure that’s only part of it. Yeah. I do want to just say for the listeners out there, you all won’t be able to see this, but as Melissa was saying that, you know, talking about bringing these essentially disassociated or disconnected parts and connecting them, she was almost interlacing her fingers, which I think is a really great portrayal of what you’re trying to say, which is we’re taking all of these pieces and we’re integrating them. It is like the full integration of the brain from a bottom up approach instead of surface level down approach. If I’m understanding that correctly.
Melissa Parks: [00:09:01]
Yes, you are 100%. And I think it’s important to also note here is that EMDR is like a resilience model, which means it believes that we have everything that we need to heal. The clinician is just sort of the conductor and whatnot, but it believes that we are all wired with resilience and that something got in the way, right.
Trauma, for example, got in the way and sort of rewired ourselves towards self protection instead of connection or these other things. But EMDR really operates out of this stance that you have what you need, and that resiliency is there and you are adaptive and we’re going to work with all that, which is beautiful.
And why I particularly love this model and that it’s so trauma-informed and resilience based.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:09:52]
Yeah, that’s very empowering. Very empowering.
Melissa Parks: [00:09:55]
It is very much though. So with the bilateral stimulation is what you’re talking about. So the tapping or the eye movements, that’s only, you know, that’s not an all eight phases of EMDR because this is an eight phase model. So we’re doing. Yes. Yes. And some clients come in, when are we going to do EMDR? And I’ll say, well, we’ve been doing it ever since you came in because you know, part of EMDR also involves case conceptualization, taking a history, doing a treatment plan, which we’re not doing tapping or bilateral stimulation through that.
But that is typically what people think EMDR is moving the eyes and the tapping. And so I’m happy to talk about that piece because it is a pretty important piece. And it’s probably what sort of separates EMDR from many of these other therapies,
Alyssa Scolari: [00:10:45]
Right, right. Because another therapies it’s just primarily talk therapy unless you were doing, you know, neurofeedback or something of that sort. But…
Melissa Parks: [00:10:53]
Alyssa Scolari: [00:10:54]
is more of like a, I don’t know, it’s like tapping into the brain. It sounds like.
Melissa Parks: [00:11:03]
No pun intended, right?
Alyssa Scolari: [00:11:05]
Right. I was going to say no pun intended, but pun fully intended, definitely tapping into the brain.
Melissa Parks: [00:11:11]
Yes. So treatment of EMDR really involves some procedures where number one, we are activating these old memories. By way of sensations, images, beliefs, feelings. So we want to activate that. And part of that involves this dual attention because we don’t want to activate something like that and retraumatize you. We don’t want to activate that and get you back into the memory where you’re fully immersed in it, and it is overwhelming and it takes you outside of your window of tolerance.
That is not what we want to happen, but we want to activate that where we have one foot in that past issue. And then we also have one foot in the present day where you’re in the office with the client and or with the clinician. So one foot in the past one foot in the present. So we’re activating the memory with all of those components.
And then this is where we bring in the bilateral stimulation. And this is rhythmic side to side stimulation. Left ,right, left, right. And this is, by way of eye movements. So the clinician can wave their fingers in front of the eyes of the client that the eyes will pass the midline. We can use hand tapping.
I have little buzzers where they hold the little buzzers and it kind of buzzes back and forth. You can do tones in the ears, but either way it’s stimulating left, right, left, right. And this activates and integrates information from both sides of the brain. And so we have full brain integration. So we’re setting up a state for the system to do what we wanted it to do.
Back during the trauma, we’re setting up a state for the system to bring those dissociated pieces together, associate them again in a safe way, and sometimes in a titrated way. Meaning we only take a little bit at a time because we don’t want to overwhelm the client. And as a result, the old memory ends up being stored properly.
The components of the memory are now timestamped appropriately. Cause remember I said, our symptoms are the past and the present. Well now when we set up this state and we help the brain integrate. Those parts can say: “Oh, we belong back here when I was 10, we don’t belong here when I’m 30 anymore.”
So those old parts are now integrated (and) oriented to the correct time. And our distress is reduced about the whole situation. And we also take what is useful in terms of our thoughts about a memory, for example, It’s over or unsafe now, or I am good ,or something. And then we can take that into our future and move forward.
The results of this are just quite amazing, but ultimately we set up this state and we let the nervous system do its thing.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:14:24]
That is absolutely fascinating.
Melissa Parks: [00:14:27]
I know I got chills when I talk about it, even though I’ve done it so many times. Cause it’s just so cool.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:14:33]
Yes, your passion for it is palpable. And just, as I’m listening to you talk, I think it’s such a beautiful description. I have had it explained to me so many times, and I have to be honest. I still am, like, after somebody explains it to me and I’m still like, okay, but I don’t get it. The way that you’re putting it is incredible because there are so many times that I will say to not only my patients who I treat, but also to myself when I’m triggered is “Okay, are these feelings about the past, or are these feelings about the present?” And what EMDR does is it sounds like it gives your brain and your nervous system, the ability to be like,”Nope, this belongs, you know, for the time that we were enduring the abuse. This is what belongs in the present. This is what we’re going to take into the future.”
Melissa Parks: [00:15:23]
That’s right. That’s right.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:15:26]
That is incredible.
Melissa Parks: [00:15:28]
Yes. Yes. And this is what our brain wanted to do at that time. Right. It really did, but it couldn’t. It’s wired to, because that’s part of what the hippocampus does. The hippocampus is the integrating function of the brain, but it couldn’t. Because things were too much, too soon, too fast, too little for too long.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:15:48]
Way too much to process.
Melissa Parks: [00:15:48]
All those too Yes Yes yes yes And so but how beautiful is it that for our survival and for our sanity it knew something else to do, to fragment these pieces. It’s beautiful Like my gosh.
Our brains are incredible.
That’s the part where I love too, is like, You know, instead of looking at it from the pathological lens, it’s like, no, this is amazing that our nervous system protected us in this way. Just amazing.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:16:22]
I love that you are saying this because I have been on such a soap box lately about pathology and how much I loathe it entirely, which I understand, you know, we need the DSM for some things, which for the listeners out there, the DSM is the book with all of the mental health disorders. But I’m just right on board with you where so much of what we experience is a result of our brain, trying to protect us, which is actually so normal and not pathological.
Melissa Parks: [00:16:55]
That’s right. Agreed. 100%.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:16:57]
I am so passionate, so passionate about that. I’ll get off my soap box now. But I have to ask. So what sparked your passion to get into this field and specifically like the EMDR niche?
Melissa Parks: [00:17:16]
Well, I feel like, so I, you know, I’m thinking like way back when I, you know, went into school, but I feel like for a lot of us clinicians out there, there’s some clinicians that go into it because it’s in the family or that kind of thing. Like we know somebody close to us that is a therapist or…
I went in it to become more self-aware and to search for healing, because of my own childhood experiences and my own difficulties and my own trauma. And so that’s probably, if I were to go right back to the brass tacks of it, of why I even started my journey towards becoming a therapist, that’s where I would say it began.
And I can’t discount….I feel like there’s a spiritual component there because I went into college when I was an itty-bitty, you know, teenager. And so it’s hard to imagine that my teenage brain was like, Oh, let’s do all of this. And, you know, cause that’s just not the case. My prefrontal cortex wasn’t even completely developed.
So I feel like there’s a spiritual component there for me, at least that there was a pathway for this for me, but I definitely had that passion to want to learn about myself and why I was the way I was and what was happening there. And then turning that around to:I want to help others.
I want to help others see, like we just said, this non-pathological lens that there is nothing wrong with you. In fact, you have done the best that you can. And so that’s where a lot of my passion comes. And then probably in terms of, EMDR where I was first introduced to that. I was almost fresh out of grad school and my supervisor did EMDR.
Now, of course, this was like almost 20 years ago and EMDR has changed a little bit over the years. And so back then it was kind of like this like woo-woo sorta thing, but she just amazed me and the way that she saw these results with her clients. And so my interest was sparked way back then and I started learning little bits and pieces along the way.
And of course, once I had my own training and my certification and all that stuff, like, that was it. But I also have a love for attachment. So I’d also do couples therapy too. And that is why I also make attachment a huge part of my EMDR treatment as well. So I do a lot of attachment focused EMDR too.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:19:51]
You can incorporate EMDR in couples work as well?
Melissa Parks: [00:19:56]
Okay. I’ve not treated couples with both of them in the room with EMDR. I think there’s probably, maybe some people that do that. But there have been times where I’m working with a couple and we realized that there are some things that are at play here that trace back to trauma that are really impeding our progress in order to create a secure bond.
And so in that case, we may branch off and do a little bit of EMDR for each or one of the components of the couple and then return.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:20:27]
Okay, that makes a lot of sense.
Melissa Parks: [00:20:31]
But when I say attachment focused EMDR, I’m talking a lot about people that have PTSD, so childhood trauma or developmental trauma, and we really need to bring in that attachment perspective to the EMDR work.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:20:46]
Yes, because it’s almost, you know, if you do have complex PTSD, it is almost impossible. Nothing’s impossible, but it is extremely, extremely difficult to be able to have a functional relationship when you have not worked through…
Melissa Parks: [00:21:02]
Alyssa Scolari: [00:21:03]
…the attachment. You know, even having been in my own treatment for… how many years now?
I don’t know. Well, multiple years at this point, I still have those triggers that come up about abandonment. And so I can only imagine.
Melissa Parks: [00:21:20]
Rection. Yeah absolutely. Yes.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:21:26]
Rejection in what I think other people might feel are just like the silliest ways. That’s like, well, what do you mean you’re going to go play video games with your friends?
Melissa Parks: [00:21:35]
And there it is the past and the present. Right? There it is.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:21:43]
So EMDR I have heard, and maybe you can speak a little bit on this. Somebody had mentioned it in one of my previous podcasts, and then I’ve had a couple of colleagues talk about this, that it can be a very, very exhausting process.
So can you speak a little bit on that? Like how is it draining? Why so draining? What are your thoughts on that?
Melissa Parks: [00:22:10]
Yeah, I have plenty of clients that will say to me, I have to clear my schedule after our session and or creating our next appointment time, I want to make sure that I’m doing it where I have nothing for the rest of the day. I mean, this can be a common experience. And then often, you know, if I have somebody that comes in that has something to do in that afternoon, we might really talk about whether or not we want to go into that…
…Phase Four, which is the desensitization using the bilateral stimulation because yeah, it can be draining. I mean, I think just the thought of going back into an experience and going back into an experience that our body and our system tries so hard not to, I mean, that alone kind of like speaks to probably the reasons why you might feel so drained afterward.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:23:03]
Yes cause you are having to actively revisit your trauma. So I suppose that speaks to the importance that like the decision to pursue EMDR is not a decision that one should make sort of like Willy nilly. Like I have 95 other thousand things going on in my life right now. But I’m going to jump into EMDR.
Like not a good idea.
Melissa Parks: [00:23:30]
Yes. Yes. And I would also say that sometimes can be par for the course, but also knowing that if we’ve spent a lot of time in Phase Two, which is the preparation phase, this is where we’re setting ourselves up for how do we deal with the aftermath of this so that we’re not pushed out of our window of tolerance after our session.
We know. Okay,, I know some things that I can do to help regulate my nervous system. If I start to feel myself kind of getting amped up again or things I can do to help contain it, if I feel triggered and, or sort of distract myself in a healthy way, that’s not dissociative or we’re working with the parts that might come up and we have identified things that we can do in the event that afterward we do feel really drained or we do fear feel really triggered.
And so that can make a huge difference.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:24:27]
Yes, setting up a before plan and after plan, making sure that the safety and all of the tools are put in place.
Melissa Parks: [00:24:40]
That’s right. That’s right. Cause you know, we really have to, we really have to recognize the importance of, and the nature of this work. We are treating very vulnerable parts within the client and we want to really focus on the importance of that and the sensitivity of that. We do not want to re-traumatize or we don’t want to you know, so it’s really important for the clinician to, you know, take a really good history to really assess the client for all of these things that could potentially be problematic and to empower the client to set up skills if needed, like all of this stuff should be done on the forefront.
So it’s not all up to the client to say, “Oh, well, I shouldn’t choose this” because there are things that we can do together to make sure that in the event it is draining or it is triggering. You can still feel like you have agency over yourself and over the situation.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:25:41]
I think that what you’re saying is so important because it also speaks to I think the significance of finding a therapist who is well equipped to be able to see you through this process. You know, this is not something that you want to walk in. Unfortunately, I do have two clients now who I’ve ended up seeing after walking into a therapist’s office who is certified in EMDR and during the first session, they went into the bilateral stimulation,
Melissa Parks: [00:26:19]
That’s Yeah. Yep. You got it.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:26:21]
They did that the first session, the first time meeting this person, and as a result, were really, really unraveled is the word I’m lookin for.
Melissa Parks: [00:26:30]
Oh, sure. For sure. It’s concerning to say the least. I’m so sorry that that happened for your client because essentially what that also does too, is the client is not sort of, I don’t want to say shutdown, but if the session isn’t closed down properly and or if they are pushed outside of their window of tolerance, It’s not repaired.
It’s not corrected. What does that do? That confirms that old experience that you are not safe. And as a result, like I said, kind of an experience of retraumatization and that is really unfortunate. That’s really unfortunate.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:27:07]
Yeah, I think that is very unfortunate and that is not the norm. You know, that is what I’m hearing you say.
Melissa Parks: [00:27:15]
I would hope so. I would hope so.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:27:18]
Right. We hope and pray that that’s not the norm. It is important, what I hear you say, to be able to establish that rapport with the client, to be able to do a full assessment, to be able to create a sense of safety so that the vulnerability can be there so that the healing process and the integration can begin.
Melissa Parks: [00:27:41]
So there’s things that the client can do, certainly. And when I’m hearing you kind of talk about…the client can ask the questions upfront. When searching for a therapist, the client can find someone that they feel comfortable with. Do like a consultation maybe, and ask the questions. What kind of clients do you treat?
What is your specialty? I’m not going to go if I have attachment trauma and I’m an adult and I’m struggling with my current relationships. I might not go to somebody who does EMDR, specially only with maybe children. For example, I would want to know that they’ve worked with adults with PTSD. So, you know, finding out what are you specialize in.
What are your advanced trainings? How long have you been doing this? Are you trained or are you certified? Asking those questions, but ultimately, you know, a lot of this lies on the clinician. And their expertise and their ability to, like I said, get a good assessment. Conceptualize the client’s case, attunement t is huge because…
Alyssa Scolari: [00:28:47]
What do you mean by that?
Melissa Parks: [00:28:48]
I might come in as a client, gung-ho, saying, “I want to do this EMDR stuff.”
“I love it so much. I’m ready.” And yet the next session, another part of them comes out that is terrified. And sort of step in the presence of the room and is terrified. And yet, instead of asserting, “Hey, I’m scared about this,” sort of just uses people-pleasing behaviors with the therapist and the therapist is not attuned to these little shifts of maybe a client’s presentation or body movements or tone of voice or anything like that, and just runs with it.
Again, we’re at the risk of retraumatization or creating an unsafe experience. The clinician’s level of attunement is so key and being able to, like I said, taking that full history, Oh, you know what? This client has used fawning, for example, which is like extreme people-pleasing in their relationships in the past.
I want to note that for myself, I want to make sure that I’m watching for this in our sessions in the future. Because even if I ask a question, “Would you like to talk about this? “They’re going to say “Yeah” all the time, because they fawn and so attunement is so huge, huge, huge, and that’s on the clinician and their ability to do that.
That’s not the client’s responsibility because a client who fawns is never going to say,”I’m feeling like I want to people-please, you right now.” They’re never going to say that.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:30:22]
No, they’re just going to do it. That’s part of their trauma response, especially when they’re activated.
Melissa Parks: [00:30:27]
Alyssa Scolari: [00:30:29]
So this is a lot in a very heavy process for both the client and the clinician.
Melissa Parks: [00:30:38]
Yes. It’s a dance.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:30:41]
Do you ever find that it’s exhausting for you as the clinician?
Melissa Parks: [00:30:48]
It could potentially be, but I have good supervision. I think the best clinicians, even the ones that are, you know, have all the certifications in the world get supervision. And so I get supervision and so I have a place to bring my stuff and I have pretty good self care. I also, you know, do things behind the scenes, like structure my day appropriately.
I do not have a huge caseload because of not only the nature of the clients that I see, the majority I’m doing EMDR or couples work, couples work is also very intense because you would have two nervous systems in the room with you.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:31:24]
Melissa Parks: [00:31:25]
You’re trying to navigate that. So I do not see a ton of people.
All of that really, I have learned, sets me up to not feel that burnout or that exhaustion.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:31:36]
You’ve learned how to take really good care of yourself.
Melissa Parks: [00:31:39]
Yeah. But there’s days, you know, cause I’m a human
Alyssa Scolari: [00:31:42]
Of course, therapists are human too.
Melissa Parks: [00:31:45]
Alyssa Scolari: [00:31:47]
Absolutely. But I love the comment that you said about having supervision, because my supervisor says this all the time, which is every good clinician has a great mentor, therapist, et cetera.
Melissa Parks: [00:32:05]
Good. Yes. You need to go to therapy too. I’m a believer in that.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:32:09]
Yes. I love my therapist.
Yup. Yep. Now there’s also been some myths, I think about EMDR that it’s sort of this like, cure all. So could you speak on that? Like, and I guess maybe this is different for every person, but what is the length of the process and then like, how do you know that you’ve gotten to a point where like EMDR is no longer needed or is it a lifelong process?
Melissa Parks: [00:32:42]
I wouldn’t say lifelong, but I think it’s not a magic thing. It’s not magic or a cure-all fix-all kind of thing. No, no, no, no, no, definitely not. But I do think that it can be helpful. Like I said almost all of my individuals that I see I’m doing EMDR with because we have to remember EMDR is not just about the Phase Four desensitization piece.
Sometimes with some clients I’m just using resource tapping, which is basically strengthening positive things that they bring into session. To strengthen a positive neural network in their brain. So if someone comes in and says, “Oh, I was a good mom this week, I had such good interactions with my kids.”
I’ll say “You want to tap that in? That sounds like it’s really important. Like we really want to strengthen that.”
Alyssa Scolari: [00:33:32]
I saw you make a Tik-Tok about that.
Melissa Parks: [00:33:34]
That’s right. That’s part of EMDR too. That’s resource tapping and that’s a component of EMDR too. And so if we’re not doing all eight phases, it’s still EMDR. And so I look at it from that perspective.
In terms of really targeting a trauma or a series of traumas, if it’s complex PTSD, it could take a long time. The research says that EMDR is more of a shorter model than say some other like traditional talk therapies, but I’d hate to put a timeline on it. I mean, I’ve, I’ve seen people that have single incident traumas and we’ve done maybe eight sessions, ten sessions, twelve sessions, and they actually feel like this is so helpful. I’m good now. Thank you. Bye. And that’s been great, but typically I’m working with people with complex trauma and we’re in it for the long haul.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:34:32]
Okay. I was just going to say, it sounds more to me like EMDR is a treatment approach, like in its entirety and not something that you decide like…
Melissa Parks: [00:34:47]
Yes, you get it.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:34:49]
Does that make sense?
Melissa Parks: [00:34:50]
Yes. That is exactly how I use it. And how I don’t look at it as just an intervention.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:34:57]
Right? Like it’s not a supplement therapy. It is a treatment modality.
Melissa Parks: [00:35:02]
That is exactly how I approach it and how I incorporate it into my practice. And not everybody is like this. I mean, some clinicians are just trained in it and they just use it here or there occasionally, but that’s not how I roll. And maybe it’s just because I’m in love with it all, but yeah. I really use it as how a lens that I see my clients through because of all the components of it that we talked about in the beginning, based on the model that the past is in the present, the resiliency aspect of it, the bottom up approach.
That’s how I see my clients through that lens. And this is why this works for me in terms of a modality. So yes, that’s right. It’s not just an intervention to me.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:35:46]
Yeah, this is a treatment lens for you. Which I think is potentially why I bet you have so much success because the treatment of trauma really is recovery is a lifelong process, especially when it comes to trauma survivors. So I would imagine that if we’re coining anything in some like eight week or twelve week intervention, it’s not going to be as effective.
Melissa Parks: [00:36:09]
Right. Right. Agreed.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:36:12]
I love it. I learned so much about EMDR. This actually makes me want to, I don’t know. This makes me definitely want to explore more.
Melissa Parks: [00:36:21]
Alyssa Scolari: [00:36:22]
And so I have to ask because your Tik-Toks are amazing. How did you…
Melissa Parks: [00:36:31]
I get a little…I’m laughing cause I can get my sense of humor can come out there. I can have a little too much fun on there.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:36:38]
They’re sofunny. I love them. I show them to my husband.
Melissa Parks: [00:36:43]
Give me an Office audio, and I will roll with it. I will make it into something. I just love The Office. And if there’s any audio on The Office, it’s happening, it’s going down.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:36:53]
It’s going down. I love it so much. How did you get into, like, how did you decide like, Oh, this is what I’m going to do.
Melissa Parks: [00:37:03]
well, I’ve been on Instagram a few years probably, and I just decided to take the leap.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:37:09]
Making those Tik-Toks at the rate that you put them out has got to be a second full-time job for you. I feel like they’re hard.
Melissa Parks: [00:37:16]
Well, they are, I’m pretty, I’m slightly, not slightly. I’m pretty aware of like, not aware, but I can work my phone pretty good. And I’m not doing like major edits, so they don’t take me too long. But I think it’s just my, I think it’s my imagination. I hear something like a sound or, and I’m like, Oh my gosh, this fits so perfectly with this.
Or this is how a couple would react or this is what would happen in the brain and how the brain would talk to each other like that. It just comes to me with hearing these sounds.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:37:47]
Yeah. It’s like, it seems looking at your profile and your content, very much of a creative outlet for you. And I would guess a way to also spread awareness.
Melissa Parks: [00:38:01]
That’s right. And I cannot tell you how many emails or messages I’ve received saying “Because of you. I decided to find a therapist” or “Because of you. I feel like I make sense. And I’m going to talk more about what’s happening with my therapist” or” just because of you…” and that gives me fire and motivation to just keep going for sure.
You know, I’m going to kind of change up how we see ourselves, how we see mental health and that’s important.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:38:32]
and you are doing that and you very much send the message on your content, on all of your platforms. Cause I believe I also follow you on Instagram that it’s not what’s wrong with you. It’s what happened to you.
Melissa Parks: [00:38:48]
Alyssa Scolari: [00:38:50]
And I love that you put that vibe out there.
Melissa Parks: [00:38:52]
Yeah. Yeah. Thank you.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:38:54]
Melissa Parks: [00:38:56]
Yeah, thank you.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:38:57]
So your Tik-Tok is…what’s your Tik-Tok username?
It’s melissa_parks_says, right.
Melissa Parks: [00:39:06]
No, just melissaparkssays, all one (word) and it’s the same for my Instagram: melissaparkssays
Alyssa Scolari: [00:39:12]
and then you have a website as well, right?
Melissa Parks: [00:39:15]
Yeah, the website, it is for my therapy practice. That’s melissaparkstherapy.com. And yeah, I’ll be doing some things in terms of more of that coaching piece, probably more towards summertime, and I’ll be opening up some opportunities for EMDR therapists that want to be certified to do some consultation under me if they want to.
So that would be important to maybe find me on social media for that. And I’m looking at some potentially courses or some kind of like membership sites so that people can work with me outside of that therapy treatment perspective. And of course, that’s only for those that do not need the structure of therapy.
That’s very important to make sure that we delineate that.
Alyssa Scolari: [00:40:08]
Ooo, you have some exciting things coming up in your future.
Melissa Parks: [00:40:12]
Alyssa Scolari: [00:40:14]
I’m excited for you. Oh, that’s so fun. Well, I will link all of your socials on the show notes. So to all the listeners out there, you will know exactly where it should go to find more of Melissa’s amazing content. Thank you for breaking down the scary beast that is EMDR, because it has really been quite frightening to me, but I feel like I have a really good grasp on it now.
And it’s not so scary.
Melissa Parks: [00:40:46]
I’m so glad. I’m so glad. And of course I’d be open to any and all questions for clarifying anything further. I’d be happy to come on again or whatever. It’s been such a joy. So thank you for having me.