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Mark Odland
EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry

Adult; Poetry; (Market)

This is a book of artwork and poetry inspired by EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy, a research-proven approach that has helped millions heal from PTSD and experiences trauma. Drawing on all his experiences as an award-winning artist, poet, and Certified EMDR therapist, Mark Odland reflects on hope and pain during these troubled times. Each poem is paired with an illustration, and is inspired by his experiences on the frontlines of treating trauma.
Odland, an artist, author (Taming the Tiger: How to Heal Your Past with EMDR Therapy) and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapist offers this original collection, a “meditation” in verse on “the trauma therapy taking the world by storm.” A nontraditional psychotheraputic method of treating PTSD and other trauma, EMDR has boomed in popularity in recent years, winning adherents (as Odland’s introduction points out) like Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey. Odland dubs the treatment “Emotional Surgery” in the collection’s first poem, and considers, over some 200 pages of verse and illustrations, the similarities between trauma and gravity, the responsibility of the EMDR therapist (“What if I rush/ To heal their pain/ And send them out raw”), the objections some express when first learning about the treatment (“There’s nothing I’m over sensitive about/ My emotional responses are/ Perfectly proportional in every situation”), and other concerns of the EMDR therapist, all in addition to paeans to the treatment’s efficacy.

Some of those are witty: “EMDR Would Wreck Movies” imagines Anakin Skywalker’s darkness “lightened” by treatment. Other celebrations of EMDR are more straightforward (“Eyes move rapidly left to right/As the walking wounded and wounded dreamers/ Stumble towards healing.”) Elsewhere, Odland faces the stress and tension of contemporary life, including some pandemic-themed poems, making the case that the urge to seek relief from stress and trauma is deeply normal.

What’s perhaps most surprising are the poems addressing the anxieties of an EMDR therapist, from the fear of not being taken seriously (“Twenty hours of wondering/ If they’ll see that I’m a fraud”), to pieces on burnout and conventions. Others concern Odland’s poetry and art: “Why the Art?” is self-explanatory, though its defense of Odland’s expressive, unpredictable sketches is persuasive, while “I Almost Stopped,” a poem about the temptation to abandon writing, links the act of creation to health and healing with incisive power.

Takeaway: A searching, self-examining collection of poetry from the perspective of an EMDR therapist.

Great for fans of: Tricia Williams’s The EMDR Years, Barb Maiberger’s EMDR Essentials.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B+
Illustrations: A-
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A