Can EMDR Help Identify Toxic Relationships?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. After EMDR therapy: I was diagnosed with PTSD a couple of years ago due to the abuse of a bipolar father. I went through EMDR therapy and it was like a cloud lifted and I saw items in vivid colors.

I am finding that my husband and I are not compatible. We married 6 years prior to my treatment. I have seen some of his reactions to items that I just feel are wrong. My 5 year old son has been recently diagnosed with a mood disorder with sensory issues. I’m starting to think that maybe my husband might have some sensory issues also. For example, my son may get overly excited and hit my husband and my husband acts back and might go in a tantrum and say off the wall stuff or call him a jerk. It reflects a lot of the same which I see from my son.

Besides seeing that behavior, I have found that my husband just doesn’t do anything for me. I really want a life full of laughter. My husband is quiet and at that time seemed like what I was looking for in a mate. But I just don’t feel anything anymore in this relationship.

Could EMDR have helped me see that this relationship is over? Is it normal that after EMDR you might identify toxic relationships easier?

A. EMDR could explain your change of heart but it is also possible that now that your post traumatic stress symptoms have improved, so too has your clarity and judgment. You mentioned that with treatment “a cloud was lifted.” This may mean that your thinking before the EMDR may not have been accurate. You are seeing a different reality and seem be to experiencing a new way of thinking about yourself and your life.

When an individual psychologically improves or is better able to see reality clearly it’s not uncommon for them to question their old ways of behaving and their relationships. Maybe the relationship used to be acceptable to you but now you can see why it is not.

If the relationship is in fact toxic then it’s good that you are finally coming to this realization. But be sure that you are correctly assessing your situation before you decide to end the relationship.

Because your marriage is at stake it is extremely important that you determine the truth in this matter. It may be helpful to consult an outside, objective source such as a therapist, to assist you in making this judgment regarding your marriage. If you are considering dissolving your marriage you must be adamant about finding the absolute truth regarding this relationship.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Apr 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Can EMDR Help Identify Toxic Relationships?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/04/13/can-emdr-help-identify-toxic-relationships/