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Yesterday a mother came to see me. She was worried about her son.

She and his father had divorced years ago and now the boy was 7-years-old. The mother had remarried. The boy loved his father and anticipated his visits, but his father had disappointed him many times in his short life. Recently, his father introduced him to his fiancé and her 3-year-old boy who “he paid more attention to than me,” the birth son reported.

His mother explained that on her son’s 7th birthday he enjoyed his party and was surrounded by family who loved him. He enjoyed his cake and presents, but as the evening came he asked his mother, “Do you think Dad will call? If he loved me, he would.”

Her son played with his new toys, but when it grew later his mother told him that it was bedtime. He whined but finally got into bed and cried. He sobbed. He asked if she would lay with him until he fell asleep, so she did.

The next morning, “he was a different child,” the mother shared.

He was angry and raging. When he returned from school he went to his room and lost interest in his friends. He slept during the day, instead of playing outside.

“He’s not the boy I know,” his mother told me. “I am concerned.”

Soon after, her son announced that he no longer wanted to have a relationship with or see his father.

Something changed that night after his birthday party. He was faced with an adult reality that hurt him, and he didn’t want to be hurt anymore. I asked his mother to recount the night of his birthday, to tell the story in detail, every small detail that she could remember, so that I could write it down in third person and next week when I planned to see her son I would tell him the story.

The next week he arrived with his mother, a cute, smart young boy who was eager to try EMDR therapy. I explained that after the session he would feel better and possibly be less angry. His mother left the room.

He lay on the couch and listened to the beeping sound and felt the tactile tappers that he held during our EMDR session. I read the detailed story about a little boy who had a birthday party with the people who loved him. The boy was happy. He had a monster truck birthday cake. The little boy sat up and said, “I had a monster truck birthday cake too!”

We finished the story, ending with how sad the boy felt that his father didn’t call and added that the little boy had so many other people who loved him. When the session was finished, he sat up and said, “I liked that story and I feel better!”

We finished by talking about the match cars that he brought with him. We talked about all of the people who love him and how they show they love him. He was able to see that when you love someone, you spend time with them, make sure they are cared for, and give them what they love, if you can.

His eyes moved back and forth, registering information and then he said, “My dad just doesn’t know how to do that, but my other dad (his stepdad) takes me fishing with him.”He loves me and I have my mom, my aunts, my grandpa and grandmas. I know they love me.”

He smiled and agreed to come in again next week. His mother joined us and saw a change in him. As they were leaving, she whispered to me, “Thank you.”

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