Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Agoraphobia - potential progress

I'm quite friendly with a psychologist who lives nearby; but I have never asked her for her advice regarding treatment for Marie. Mainly, this is because when I see her she is "off duty" and I imagine she wouldn't welcome enquiries about mental health issues when she should be relaxing and following other pursuits. Marie and I are pretty well known (or possibly notorious?) in our local community, so I assumed that she knew about Marie's condition. One day, she asked me how Marie was doing. "Much the same as usual" is my stock reply, since most people simply ask this out of politeness, and any further information is usually met with a bored expression. This occasion was different.

"I know a lady who has quite a lot of success in treating people with Marie's problem," I was told. "She's a psychologist who specialises in CBT and has been very effective in treating panic/anxiety sufferers.Would you like her contact details?"

A few moments later I was clutching a small piece of paper with the lady's name (Vera) and her telephone number.

I used to ring up mental health professionals on Marie's behalf, but nowadays I let her do her own phoning up. It's my contention that if she wants her condition to improve, she'll ring up anyone who can help, entirely unaided. I gave her the piece of paper with Vera's details...and that's the last I ever saw of it. I wasn't surprised. That was about 6 months ago.

But last week, Marie bumped into my psychologist friend, and asked her if she could have the CBT specialist's contact details again. "Delighted" was the reply, and a new piece of paper was given to Marie. This time Marie acted on it, phoned Vera and after a long call, made an appointment to see her.

During the course of the long call, Vera told Marie that she thought the EMDR would be a better therapy for her than CBT on its own. She is to explain her reasons for coming to this conclusion when she meets Marie.

I am aware of EMDR, and had never previously considered it as a therapy for Marie. You can read about it here and here. It's main use is for post traumatic stress disorder. To the best of my knowledge, the only clinical trials carried out on EMDR relate to its efficacy with PTSD. I know that there are some claims that it works for many other mental health problems, but since there are no accredited reports to this effect, I am somewhat skeptical. Has anyone reading this ever tried it? I'll let you know how Marie gets on in due course; her appointment is in 2 weeks' time.

Marie is currently less anxious than a few weeks ago, and is back to driving Joseph to school, driving to nearby shops, working most days for at least a couple of hours and she even stayed at home alone for a while a couple of nights ago while I went to a business meeting ½ mile away! (Yes, Sarah, just like it is for you, the effects of Marie's agoraphobia change from day to day.) Now she has approached a new therapist...I am hoping (but experience has taught me not to be TOO optimistic) that this is another step along the road to recovery...


Anonymous said...

Hi Robert,

My new therapist also does EMDR. We haven't got to that stage yet, but I think it has possibilities for agoraphobes, too.

I'll share more as I learn more!

-HSP woman

Robert said...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that EMDR works for both you and Marie!

Good luck!

Ruby said...

Hi Robert & Marie
I haven't heard of EMDR, but its great to hear Marie took this step herself, that's awesome.
It sounds like she is doing much better now.
Good Luck


Robert said...

Ruby -

I wouldn't say that Marie is doing MUCH better now, but ANY better can only be a step in the right direction!

Now if she could just do as well as you are doing....

MrsC♥ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MrsC♥ said...


It's wonderful that Marie wants the help for herself. If its private then thats even better. I was ready as i could be Aug. 2006, but the NHS waiting lists have taken too long. I believe if i had gone done the private route there and then, i would be doing just fine now :(

Maire being left alone is FAB! Driving your son to school is wonderful and going to the shops...ALL STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION! I can't even drive 30 seconds down the bloody road.


Coffeecup said...

Tell Marie please from me that she's doing just fab! Oozing confidence at present, this is great!

EMDR. Yes I've had a session. Alas the NHS cut back the services and made the practioner redundant, so I only got the one. I did have a trauma to deal with, but couldn't face it first go. Ironcally following this guys fingers took my mind into a very similar situation that occured later, and then into the same thing in childhood. It was amazing. I felt really emotional and couldn't explain why. I think it connects these patterns of remembering, and how you will react when in real life you revist a similar situation or surroundings. It has great potential I'm sure to cut off that same emotional route.

A CMH nurse tried it out with him for practise, and used stopping smoking as her issue. She still smokes but miraculously has stopped biting her nails! There's logic in that....

No harm done trying X

Robert said...

Sarah & Steph -

Many thanks for your comments and ongoing support, girls. Marie is feeling quite good about herself at the moment - which is making me feel good, too!

lady thinker said...

Long may the improvement in Marie continue. I hope the EMDR and CBT help - never heard of EMDR before - have bookmarked it to research it.

Best wishes for you both.x

UKintheUS said...


Thanks for letting us know, she has at least made a step herself, and even though those things she can do seem minor to the rest of the world, are enormous for us to achieve! You go girl! (Marie)

Just Deb said...

This is good news but you are wise to "not hold your breath." I know when it comes to my own issues, I will take a step forward and then rewind back to the beginning.

It's very frustrating and I do wish her much success!

Deb from Caged Shadow


Robert said...

Hi ukintheus & deb -

Thnks for your comments. Any progress is good progress, but no gains are guaranted to last forever!

Robert said...

lady thinker -

The jury is out on whether EDMR is effective for the treatment of anything other than PSTD. Healthcare professionals are sceptical about many of the claims of EMDR practitioners. (I haven't told Marie this, because I want her to approach it with a positive attitude.) We're trailblazing here, and I'll let you know how we get on.