Working with a skilled trauma therapy team, Haggard experienced life-changing relief and new found mobility. He shares his story this way:
I was so ashamed in 2006 when my scandal broke. The therapeutic team that dug in on me insisted that I did not have a spiritual problem or a problem with cognitive ability, and that I tested in normal ranges on all of my mental health tests (MMPI, etc.). Instead, I had a physiological problem rooted in a childhood trauma, and as a result, needed trauma resolution therapy. I had been traumatized when I was 7 years old, but when Bill Bright led me to the Lord when I was 16, I learned that I had become a new creature, a new person, and that I did not need to be concerned about anything in my past, that it was all covered by the blood [of Jesus Christ's death]. I did become a new creation spiritually, but I have since learned that I needed some simple care that would have spared my family and I a great deal of loos and pain.
Contrary to popular reports, my core issue was not sexual orientation, but trauma. I went through EMDR, a trauma resolution therapy, and received some immediate relief and, as promised, that relief was progressive. When I explain that to most [of my peers], their eyes glaze over. They just don't have a grid for the complexity [that trauma presents] . . . .
In my case, I was taught that life transformation took place at salvation and the power to overcome was inherent with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. My early Christian training was given by those who did not respect the mental health profession, nor the field of neural science. So I believed the solution to my struggle was exclusively spiritual, which turned out to be counterproductive.
If I prayed and fasted, I was more tempted. If I just worked in ministry, I experienced relief and was not tempted. I thought it was spiritual warfare. It was not. My struggle was easily explained by a competent therapeutic team.
But many in the church-world had to demonize the facts . . . [Even] the lead overseer actually told me, "Brother Ted, we do not believe in this psychological mumbo-jumbo, but we need to send you to therapy for the sake of the public. Then when you get home, we'll get this demon out of you and your family and sweet Miss Gayle will be just fine." I thank God for the therapy. It answered 30 years of prayer. I became the man I had always prayed to be because of the process I went through during the crisis.
EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), for those who are not familiar with it, is a form of "psychotherapy that enables people to heal from symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences" (EMDR Institute, Inc.). It is helpful, perhaps especially, when someone has physically witnessed a trauma and experiences recurring flashbacks or other forms of recurring bodily memory. EMDR has been proven through multiple cases studies that are easily found online (including on the EMDR Institute, Inc, site and SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices) to be effective and timely.
Studies continue to be conducted to determine the effectiveness of EMDR. Ministers may consider becoming aware of EMDR therapists in their local communities, as one of multiple post-trauma resources for personal use or for the use of staff members and congregants.