by Carol Boulware, Ph.D.

Couples usually break up, separate or divorce because they reach a point of seeing no hope for resolving their problems. However, most relationship issues can be improved or resolved in a relatively short time with the groundbreaking EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy. Problems with intimate partners usually stem from”protective” behavior patterns formed after a very upsetting or painful experience in the past.  EMDR addresses those patterns and helps the client heal, or release, the negative behavior.

If you can relate to any of the following situations with your current (or prior) partner, this article describes how EMDR can help you reduce your frustration and increase your satisfaction with your relationships:

  • You frequently get jealous
  • You allow your partner to treat you badly at times
  • You easily get angry with your partner
  • You often feel hurt or misunderstood by your partner
  • There is more arguing than real communicating with your partner
  • The idea of being away from your partner makes you feel anxious
  • You feel inhibited, vulnerable, or fearful during sex
  • When you are angry or hurt, you walk away, or want to be alone

We may want to blame the other person for the break-up, but usually both partners contribute to the malfunctioning of a relationship. Real solutions are possible when we learn to recognize and heal our own negative behavior patterns, so we can avoid repeating them in the future.

When partners split, they often say they want to leave their pain behind and move on with their lives In reality, though, many ex-partners stay “stuck in the past” by continuing to feel wounded, angry or emotionally vulnerable for long periods, even years, after their relationship ended. They may blame themselves, resent their ex, or the opposite sex, feel misunderstood, anxious or chronically depressed.

Some ex-partners will go on to form new relationships with fresh hope for success. However, until they begin to change the underlying causes of the behavior that broke up the relationship, that behavior pattern will sabotage their future relationships, as well. The reason has to do with how the brain handles or “processes” emotional pain.

If the emotional centers of the brain cannot make sense of a disturbing, emotionally painful event when it happens, the visual and emotional memories of it are “stored” in the nervous system. This “trapped” emotion, often from a childhood trauma, such as abuse, is the root cause of many relationship problems.  Suppressed feelings eventually cause some form of negative behavior, such as angry outbursts, abusiveness or addiction, which, of course, can create serious problems in a relationship.  In other words, the past is always in present time for that person.

Fortunately, there is hope – the revolutionary EMDR.  Major research studies and decades of therapeutic experience have shown EMDR therapy to be very successful in helping clients release old trauma pain and form life-affirming thoughts and feelings instead. One of the studies reported that EMDR was twice as effective as traditional therapy, and achieved positive results in half the therapy session time.
As an experienced EMDR Therapist, I have helped many clients reach their goal of healing their past pain and childhood trauma. We all have the ability to change our own feelings and thoughts, we just need to find a method of doing it.  When painful memories are no longer allowed to “control” our behavior, we will be free to pursue greater happiness, confidence and peace of mind.  Additional benefits that clients report from EMDR therapy are greater insights and understanding, increased physical sensation and emotional spontaneity.

EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation (BLS) to help the brain unlock and release the emotions and body sensations connected to a past disturbing experience.  It uses eye movement, tapping or sound, as part of a collaborative effort by the client and therapist. It brings rapid changes in the nervous system that quickly release trapped emotional energy in the nervous system. You do not have to continue to suffer from a past disturbing or traumatic event.  Nearly half a million people have been successfully treated with EMDR, including many who have healed, or neutralized, their past pain and resolved their relationship, separation and divorce issues.

Current relationship partners with issues, or who are in crisis, as well as ex-partners can benefit from eliminating the destructive power of their past pain with EMDR treatments. Studies show that 84 to 90 percent of people with serious emotional pain from a past trauma experienced relief after their first three EMDR sessions.

Negative thoughts and feelings damage not only relationships, but also both partners’ self-esteem, emotional balance and outlook on life.  EMDR is a fast, natural, safe therapy that can help them create healthier, more satisfying relationships, and a much happier life.


Dr. Boulware is Certified Sex Therapist, Psychotherapist, Certified EMDR Therapist, and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner practicing in Santa Monica and Redondo Beach.
She is a member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network.  You can contact Dr. Boulware at (310) 365-8717 or carolphd@psychotherapist.net.

Copyright 2017 by Dr. Carol Boulware