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  • Bill Petrie

A Couple of Extremely Valuable Blows to My Prejudices as a Psychotherapist

Updated: May 9, 2020

As is the case for most psychotherapists I know, I had a fairly troubled childhood requiring several years of psychotherapy before embarking on a training as a clinical psychologist.

My psychotherapy happened to be a Jungian one.

I found a Jungian approach to be profoundly helpful and, as a result, I became convinced that a Jungian oriented psychotherapy was superior to all others.

This was a highly prejudiced position.

I didn't know it at the time but I was soon to find out.

Four years after qualifying, I found myself in the British National Health Service as a Principal Clinical Psychologist.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) was the approach of preference at that time and I had little training in CBT so, somewhat reluctantly, I went and trained in method at Oxford University.

I was in for a shock.

Although I could still see the great value in a Jungian approach, I quickly saw how much more beneficial CBT is for treating issues such as social phobias, OCD and panic attacks.

I could no longer believe that a Jungian approach was the treatment of choice for all psychological ills and it threw my world as a therapist upside down.

In that same year, my then boss - John Spector - showed me a paper that had been given to him by a predecessor of mine - Henk Eichhorn.

The paper was on a radical new treatment for trauma called EMDR.

I’d never heard of EMDR but the treatment of PTSD was notoriously difficult at the time and the paper claimed a high success rate in a relatively short period of time.

I was interested but sceptical and, indeed, there was much to be sceptical about.

EMDR utilised eye movements as part of the protocol and no one had any idea how the method worked.

None the less, the paper appeared to be solid as a pilot study and it had been published in a respectable peer-reviewed journal.

So, we decided to try it out.

Much to our surprise, we got very impressive results.

In fact, the results were so positive that we decided to get properly trained and so we undertook training with the originator of EMDR - Francine Shapiro.

Following her training, our results continued to improve and this inspired us to form EMDR (UK) - later to be renamed EMDR (UK & Ireland).

I was the first chair and we set about the task of getting as many professionals trained in the UK as possible.

It was an exciting time and, since I was still studying at Oxford University, I offered to give the staff a lecture and demonstration of EMDR.

I was met with considerable disinterest.

What followed, then, was a diatribe by the editor of the top CBT journal in the UK - at the time an Oxford University staff member. In his editorial, he criticised EMDR from every angle he appeared to be able to think of - without he himself having experienced it personally or having tried it professionally.

It was clear that he was just as blinkered in his adherence to CBT as I had been to Jungian Psychotherapy.

Fortunately, truth was on our side and, as time went on, the body of research that supported the efficacy of EMDR could no longer be ignored by the professionals and within a matter of years, EMDR became one of the two evidence-based Psychotherapy methods recommended by the British Government for the treatment of PTSD. (National Institute for Health and Care Guidelines).

To this day, I continue to use EMDR and am deeply grateful to Francine for developing the method and John and Henk for introducing me to it.

In my professional and personal life, I continued to explore far and wide became confidant as a therapist. I considered myself to be pragmatic and open-minded but yet another shock to own prejudices was deftly delivered.

In 2013, a client of mine said that she had heard of something called Matrix Reimprinting and she wanted to experience it.

I asked her what Matrix Reimprinting was about and she reported that the originator - Karl Dawson - believed that memories were held in an energetic matrix and could be changed very quickly through tapping on acupuncture points and a few other things.

I was more than a little sceptical and told her it sounded a bit 'woo-woo' but she decided to give it a go and the results were astoundingly positive.

In fact, the results were so good that I decided to train with Karl Dawson himself in both EFT and Matrix Reimprinting.

And, again, I am very grateful for these methods.

Today, EMDR, EFT and Matrix Reimprinting are amongst the most highly valued of my therapeutic tools. They are all so astoundingly effective and produce positive changes in relatively short periods of time - something I could only have dreamed of when I first trained.

I am very grateful for the blows to my prejudices along the way.

May there be many more!

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