Dr. Laurel Parnell, “Tapping In: A Step-by-Step Guide to Activating Your Healing Resources Through Bilateral Stimulation”

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February 8, 2008

Monica and Caroline welcome psychologist and teacher Dr. Laurel Parnell. Together they discuss Parnell’s book, Tapping In:  A Step-by-Step Guide to Activating Your Healing Resources Through Bilateral Stimulation. This book introduces the concept of “resource tapping” and educates the reader about the development of this technique by practitioners of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitation and Reprocessing) healing therapies.

Dr. Parnell actively integrates spiritual and physiological work, teaching workshops for both the general public and professionals under the auspices of such organizations as The Esalen Institute, The Open Center in NYC, The Omega Institute, and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Parnell is the author of three previous books on EMDR.

In this interview, Monica and Caroline ask Dr. Parnell about the process of writing and finding a publisher. Parnell also describes how we can benefit from resource tapping.

0:00 “Tapping In: A step by step guide to activating your healing resources through bi-lateral stimulation.” By Dr. Laurel Parnell
1:00 History and Background of Bi-lateral stimulation
5:28 Working on various kinds of feelings
6:17 Enhancing positive experiences
7:07 Why do the same physiological motions work both to enhance positive emotions and release negative emotions?
8:28 Theories about why bi-lateral stimulation works.
10:17 Tapping Lesson – easy to learn
14:11 Application of tapping – the four main resources (inner helpers)
20:00 Tapping for difficult traumas
20:23 Bilateral stimulation for children
24:14 Bilateral stimulation helps Dr. Parnell
26:05 Cancer patients
28:20 Dr. Laurel decides to help publicize bilateral stimulation.
30:08 Therapists use EMDR to prepare clients for trauma processing work.
31:00 Learning EMDR
32:30 Tapping as a sleep aid
33:34 Dr. Parnell reads a selection from the book
41:56 Tapping for chronic pain.
44:13 Finding an EMDR therapist.
44:35 Dr. Parnell writes two books for therapists, two for general audience.
*45:38 Dr. Parnell fits writing into a busy career by going on writing retreats.
*46:42 Incorporating stories from clients into the writing.
*48:11 Editing process – finding a different voice for therapists vs. general audience.
*50:13 Dr. Parnell uses tapping to help with writing.
*50:18 Writing drops Dr. Parnell into a deep state. Retreats help.
*51:30 A book that wanted to be written — publisher solicited the book out of the blue.
*53:21 Dr. Parnell writes a book proposal and gets three offers.
*55:06 Quote from Caroline


45:28 Monica: “How do you fit writing a book into your schedule as a therapist and a trainer and a workshop leader.”

Laurel: “Well what I do is I go away for blocks of time. I have a special retreat place I go to and I’ll write for two or three weeks at a time, where I’m not having to do all the other things I’m doing. I’ll go away and I’ll get a big piece of the writing done. Then I’ll come back, and in the spaces in my schedule, that’s when I’ll do the polishing work.”

Monica: “And how many sessions away would it take to complete a book like this?”

Laurel: “Oh, gosh, probably three or four.”

Monica: “And is that like over a year’s time?”

Laurel: “Yeah, six months to a year. Probably in the first eight months most of it is written, and then the latter part becomes the polishing and the back and forth with the editor.”

Monica: “How do you incorporate stories into your writing? Are they all stories from your personal experiences with clients, or do you gather stories from other therapists?”

Laurel: “Both. As I’m working with my clients, when something really stands out as a really good example of something in my teaching I’ll write it down. I’ll get permission from the person to use it or I’ll make composites of people. I feel stories are the best way to teach. I’m very visual in that way. If I have a story I’ll remember something. If I’m just told a technique, it won’t stick with me.”

Monica: “…How do you keep these stories organized so that when you come to writing the book, you know where to find [them]? How organized are you?”

Laurel: “Not that organized. … I write things down on yellow pads… I’m teaching all the time, so I have teaching stories that I use [that are] in my mind.”

48:43 Laurel: “I had good editors at Sounds True. In particular around the organization of it. That was really helpful to have, especially to have non-therapists reading it. Most of my friends and colleagues are EMDR therapists and they’re not likely to see things as clearly as a non-therapist. … What was a little tricky with this book is I published another major book, probably my most major book the year before this, which was an EMDR text called, “A Therapist’s Guide to EMDR”. It was a huge amount of work. So it was really my EMDR trainer’s brain that had written that, and so I had to change my voice. My writers’ voice had to change for this. The first draft of this, the feedback I got was I was still writing in the wrong voice. … I had to change the voice, so I started reading other self-help books, and then I began to imagine who I was writing this for: non-therapists. And then I found my voice. Then it came really easily after that.”

50:39 Laurel: “What happens in my writing is I really drop into another state. I go into a very deep state, and it just comes out. After I’ve written I don’t even know who wrote it. … That’s why it really helps to get away from my every-day life and go on retreat, and then I’m very productive and it doesn’t feel like work.”

51:30 Laurel: “This really wanted to be written. It was actually astonishing. I had the book idea…as I was driving up the Big Sir coast, this outline for the book formed in my mind. I got home and I got the name of the person to contact at Sounds True. I wrote the email, and then I didn’t send it because I was afraid they’d say ‘yes’. I hadn’t finished my other book yet. Something was wanting to be born and I was [holding it back]. … The next day, Jennifer … from Sounds True phoned me.”

Monica: “Oh, you’re kidding!”

Laurel: “…asking me to write a book for them.”

Monica: “And had you ever worked for them before?”

Laurel: “Never. It was completely out of the blue.”

Monica: “Oh, that’s amazing.”

Laurel: “We spoke, and I told them my idea. They said yes, they wanted it. I was afraid. It was like, it’s wanting to come out of me before I was ready for it….”

Laurel: “I love the people at Sounds True. They’re just wonderful. It couldn’t have been a better experience. … I had the same experience with Norton. Norton is my other publisher… They were also wonderful. So I’ve had nothing but very very positive experiences working with these two companies.”

Monica: “When you wrote your first book, did you have the publisher lined up before you wrote it?”

Laurel: “No. That one, I was a new writer. I had taken a class on how to write a non-fiction book proposal. Again, I was so fired up, it was like it was something beyond me that wanted the book to come out of me.”

Monica: “So did you write a proposal, or did you just write the book?”

Laurel: “I wrote the proposal, which also means you write two chapters. So I wrote two chapters of the book and had the whole book outlined and the chapters described, and the woman who was giving the class was also a literary agent and she took me on and really helped me polish that book proposal and I had three offers on it. Again, it was like it took off. It was one of the very first books on EMDR that came out to the general public.”

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