I can’t explain the relief I feel on a daily basis after spending 7 days with Rachael Starr doing EMDR therapy..I have been home for aprox 2 months since the retreat and I wish I had known about this program years ago, but better late than never.The unknown and anxiety before the retreat was high but Rachael had such a calm about her she set my mind at ease by checking in on me during my travel. Once I arrived and met her in person I knew I picked the right program to fit my personality and needs.The sessions were hard since they opened up traumas I had tucked away for decades. I quickly realized how work, childhood and my adult traumas were all innertwined somehow. Rachael’s ability to read me and direct the EMDR therapy was amazing.During my retreat I was able to sleep through an entire night without waking up feeling some sort of impending doom. The result of that continues to this day and I no longer walk around with bags under my eyes. The tension in my body has released and after 3 years of not being able to close my jaw completely due to tension I was finally able to.I returned home with the tools and ability to deal with stressors, make better life decisions, learned to say NO and have healthy boundaries. All which are allowing me to finally be truely HAPPY with ME…..Living my best life finally,C B(If your gonna be dumb you better be tough )
Can 30 minutes change your life?
As a strong willed individual, I never thought anything could hurt me. Nothing has ever affected me so much that I could not walk away from it and be still be just as happy. I had seen some horrific things in the military, but I separated it in my head as it’s just a job. I pressed on with my life, never had a second thought, and I certainly did not suffer from the PTSD that many others had become susceptible to. I was ignorant to the fact that everyone has their breaking point; I did not have any idea as to the true hell they were going through. For people who know me, I am a very fun loving, always joking, people person; this was about to change at the drop of a dime. I didn’t realize when I was going to work the next day what life had in store for me. It started out as any day, I showed up, joked around with the off going crew, and got ready for my day. The differences that day was the Captain was on a shift change, our medic for the day was on overtime, I was on a “debit” day, and none of us belonged to this station. We ran some errands, got things going for the day, and ran some routine medical calls. Nothing was out of the ordinary. We had been back at the station only a few minutes when the next call came out: a 40 year old male, possibly unconscious. Again, nothing too out of the ordinary. As I walked out of the living room to the front of the engine, the bay door was already opened. As I rounded the corner, within a split second, I notice a guy without a shirt and shoes running straight towards me. BOOM–from five feet away, he threw me a dead baby. No response time, no tools, nothing–this was life or death. What was I going to do? It was like a scenario straight out of EMT class when your instructors are messing with you, except this was real. Seeing as this was extremely rare scenario, I never expected what was to ensue. The next few hours I was in a blur of confusion about what had just happened. Like everything else, I expected it to simply go away; unfortunately it never did. I figured after a few days the thoughts would subside, but they never did! In fact, they only got worse. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t laugh. I could do nothing but survive. And to top it all off, I had a headache that would not go away. Knowing how to deal with stress, I went on to do what I knew–I talked to co-workers, I worked out, I ate healthy, I talked to more people, and went to my cabin to try sleeping and unwinding, but none of this was helping. No matter what I did, I could not process what had happened. The images would not leave my head. The thing that made it the hardest was not having even a 20 second response time to get my thoughts in order. I did everything I knew how to do; I did what I was trained to do, and still, it did not seem to help. While all of this was going on in my head, I took it out on my loved ones. I took it out on my girlfriend, and, within a matter of weeks, I had completely changed the person I was. I did not do it because I wanted to, but because I was in pure survival mode. But you see, I am a lucky one. I talked to my chain of command, and they sent me to the Dr. The Dr would not give me medication, because she knew this would only cover the problem but not resolve it. Instead, I received only light sleep aids to see if that helped; it helped my sleep a little bit, but did nothing for my overall condition. By this point I was walking around with a cloud in my head. I became very worried when I realized that I couldn’t even remember simple tasks, I would walk by an object that I knew I needed 6 times, and still forget it. I would think to myself, “That’s not me–I am usually very sharp and I don’t forget stuff. What in the hell is happening to me?” People would tell jokes that I knew were funny, but I could not physically laugh.
Through a chain of events 7 months prior I had reached out to try to support another firefighter who was going through a pretty rough time, never knowing in such a short time I would be in his shoes. I reached back out to him and asked if he felt the same way I was feeling now. This was important when he said yes, as at least I knew I wasn’t alone. He put me in contact with 11th Hour and I instantly felt a connection. I got into contact with Rachael, and I explained to her what was going on. I explained that I desperately needed help, and that I would do anything I could to get the help I needed. From our first conversation I knew she was going to be the one to save me. I was shocked. I thought: “wait–this person is a mental health professional, yet truly understands firefighters. How can this be?” You see, the first person I was supposed to see told me I needed to be seen immediately, only to blow me off, cancel our appointment, and refer me to someone else. The next professional I was referred to was scared he was going to hurt me, and clearly had no idea how firefighters operate. Needless to say, before talking with Rachael, I had very little confidence in a therapist helping me at all. Yet somehow she was different. She knew what it meant when I said that I had a guy “randomly code” on me in public a couple of days prior. She knew that because she goes to fire stations, and spends countless hours away from work with firefighters and police officers. Trust me- that goes a long way in helping, because she knows where we are coming from and it builds an instantaneous trust. After our initial conversation I knew I was talking to someone that cared and really wanted to help me get better. I finally had hope and I flew clear across country the very first second she had opening. I was given a place to stay and was welcomed like family. I received probably the best advice ever before starting. “Hold nothing back. Let her know everything.” That’s exactly what I did. Rachael made no judgments about what I had done or the things I had seen, which in turn makes you want to get everything out. I can tell you as a pretty non emotional person who has cried only a few times in my life, that I cried while with her and felt comfortable doing so as I felt myself healing every second. Within the first hour I felt relief. I kept asking myself: “How is this possible? Could this really be true?” Then, several more hours passed by, and the more and more was laid out on the table, again the better I felt. I kept questioning: “How long will this last? When will I go back to feeling completely miserable?” But the truth is I never did. Now, I will be the first to admit that after every session I left with a headache that you couldn’t believe. However, I knew you must feel some pain to heal. After all, they don’t call it an intensive therapy session for no reason, and so I kept pushing forward. By the time I left there, I felt happier than I probably had ever been since I was a child. I was laughing again, I was back to being sarcastic and joking–I couldn’t believe it. I was even back to laughing at the things that not everyone outside of our professions think are funny. The day I left, I hugged Rachael while crying like a baby for what seemed like hours. Realistically, I’m sure I spent at least 20 minutes thanking her for giving me my life back, thanking her for giving my girlfriend her future husband back, for giving my parents their son back, because without her, I knew I was never going to be okay. Even as I am thinking back to that journey right now I have tears in my eyes over how grateful I am to have her in my life, and for everything she taught me and did for me. I am now back to loving the career I started and am enjoying it daily. As a fellow firefighter/first responder, there is an unspoken trust between us, no matter where you’re at, or what your doing. I could pull up along side you, see a fire, and we both know we have each others back. So, I leave you with this: if you trust me with your life in a fire, trust me when I say that EMDR, guided by Rachael with all her experience, will help you to get your life back. I am available to answer any and all questions at any time and place, because I know how scary this is. I have been there and gone through the hell you are experiencing. Best of luck on your upcoming journey.
I was told about the 11th Hour Retreat from a coworker who had just come back from an “intensive” with Rachael. I had already been seeing a therapist through my department EAP and had about a year under my belt of EMDR therapy dealing with the significant amount of death and loss in my life. On New Years of 2910 I responded to a double fatality of two young adults in a vehicle accident. One of the individuals had a shocking resemblance to my nephew and for several hours, I thought it might be him. That started for me a downward spiral of trouble sleeping, anxiety, nightmares, and self harm thoughts. My Therapist suggested I look into the “intensive” programs my department offered. I reached out to my peer support and asked for more information about this program. Within a few hours I was on the phone with Rachael. What drew me to this program over others was this was the only one-on-one therapy that was offered. I knew I needed to be able to concentrate on just my own healing and for me to go into a group program would allow me to fade into the background
I had about a month between when I agreed to attend the retreat and when I flew out. As exhausted and ready as I was to make a change in my life, I was never more nervous of the “unknown”. I was scared what might be brought up and that I would lose my career at the end of this. A career that I love. I had been told PTSD what treatable but I didn’t believe it, I didn’t think these struggles would ever go away.
From the moment I walked into the office with Rachael, I had never felt more at ease with a stranger. She was so open, honest, and real. There was freedom in the day and although she pushed me when I needed it, she also honored my boundaries for how far I was willing to go in sessions. I will say that the week was some of the toughest work I’ve ever done on myself but Rachael walked me through it every step of the way. She also took the time to explain why I had the thoughts and feelings I did and it began to unlock things in my brain I didn’t know I was carrying around for years. Being able to identify my “stuff” allowed me to let it go and begin to move forward without that burden. This experience allowed me to stop reliving the past and I have now been able to say “What now?” and look forward.
It’s now about 9 months post retreat and I can say attending the 11th Hour Retreat was the BEST thing I could have done for myself at the time. If I had continued down the path I was on, I don’t think I’d still be working the job I love. Now I am growing into an effective and respected leader in my department. As first responders we take care of everyone else and would move mountains for people we love. We have to do that for ourselves too. I’m not going to lie, the work you will do in this program is hard, and vulnerable, and gritty, but it is worth every second of it. You are worth it, and there is no better place for you to realize it!
Fire Apparatus Engineer
It would be just two days prior to flying out of Sacramento International Airport that I was assigned to the Kincade Incident in LNU. After completing a 2 week stent, plus or minus a day in the Gysers, I was filled with several feelings of unstableness and on uncategorized emotions that were unbridled at best. I don’t know how long this will actually take me to write this or how the fluency will portray my story to the many readers who are in a place of disparity, brokenness and are seeking healing and restoration. I am asking God to give me the strength right now to speak through me and give me the words I need to share, as I am struggling to fight back the tears rolling down my face. It is similar to the same feeling I had when I had to say goodbye to Rachel on our last session together. She will for ever be apart of my life, because when you surround yourself with positive, inspirational, loving individuals with integrity and honesty you feel safe. I am alive and I can feel my own feelings and identify where they coming from. 40 years of baggage I have been carrying around, scared from various types of trauma an incident child who once was a victim of various forms of abuse now becomes chained with unhealthy copping mechanisms feeding the vicious cycle of my addictions. It doesn’t take long to morph into unstable, unhealthy individual who has the ability to hurt, deceive and destroy others through addiction processes. I have no doubt in my mind that God had used Rachel to restore my soul. I am healed and have the tools to walk this journey I am on and I am not alone. I don’t have to be scared anymore. I will continue to press forward fighting the good fight, equipping myself with training and skills that were bestowed upon me by the 11th Hour. Freedom does not come free, you have to fight for it, you have to work for it day and night. its the quitter, the backslider, the complacency that will cripple you and deceive you. I am on this journey and am continuously being healed, seeking healing is a choice, picking up a book is a choice, surrounding yourself with people positive people that want to build you up is a choice, being accountable for your actions and being transparent is a choice. I am on a mission to restore what was stolen from me and my vision is to stand with unwavering integrity, being a light in this corrupt and dark world. I will be that example for my kids, I can honor my wife with compassion and enduring love. I can now lead my family to prosperity and protect them from deception and destruction. Before you can heal, you must be broken, and before you are broken you must live. I have my own unique DNA, my fingerprints belong to me. I will not die living an unfulfilled life. I will leave this world on empty, because the legacy I leave is mine to leave behind.“Fight the Good Fight”
I stood what felt like a thousand miles away from my husband terrified as I watched him go through loss of a comrade on top of work trauma that had already rocked him to the very center of his core. Our marriage was already being held together with scotch tape after years of being second to his employer. I was holding all the pieces and stretched so thin trying to take care of everything and everyone. He attended some brainspotting sessions locally, thanks to ESS and EAP. Those sessions saved his life, and got him to Colorado. He had been so shattered by all of the loss he had personally experienced and the traumas he had processed, he agreed to attend the 11th hour retreat. He had no idea what he was signing up for. The mindset for me as the spouse was ‘I just have to get him by, until I can get him there’. What he learned about his coping mechanisms and behavior was that it was all linked to a time long ago. A time where children are supposed to be loved and protected but aren’t. That many moments of childhood that he had feelings and memories around were not just a life he had lived, but his very own ‘childhood trauma board’. Learning that those coping mechanisms are no longer required for survival, identifying them and building new behaviors is a journey that started at this retreat. Those traumas were responsible for a lot of the behaviors he had developed as a requirement to survive. A significant coping mechanism for him and many in the fire service is the ability to shut down emotionally. To wall off those feelings so that no one and nothing can hurt you ever again. This skill while detrimental to any actual connection in a relationship with spouses, children and family members has proved to be almost a requirement to survive being helpless amidst the hard things he was living day after day, stacked on top of his childhood trauma shift after shift, loss after loss. Experiencing traumas in childhood have a direct impact with your ability to process trauma as an adult. My husband didn’t know he had childhood trauma. He thought it was just the life he lived. EMDR was a tool used to process those memories in a way that takes away the overwhelming feelings associated with them, and the bad things you think about yourself. He worked through so many different things from his childhood and from his career. There was a lot of learning about himself, healing, and growth. My husband returned from 11th hour with a journey of healing ahead of him. He now has a solid foundation she helped him build for himself, for me his wife, and for his children. Don’t wait until you are shattered to reach out. This is an incredible opportunity for any individual. Rachael is an authentic empathetic loving straight shooting lady, that has given this family the gift of hope. For that I am eternally thankful.
Before I went to the 11 th hour I suffered from depression, anxiety, depression, and anger
management. I’m an Engineer for CAL FIRE and served in the United States Marine Corps. I had
little knowledge about mental trauma and what to expect from the week long EMDR sessions
that I was about to encounter. I spoke with Rachael and with the CAL FIRE ESS staff before I went
and got a lot of information, and with any new experience I had no Idea what to expect. I was
on sick leave from work because mentally I was in need of help. When I first got to the 11 th hour
office and I first met Rachael one of the first things I was told is this isn’t going to work unless I’m
ready for it to work. I thought hard and I needed a change in my life. The EMDR process and the
whole experience was tough, on the first day you do your wall and throughout the week as you
work on your wall you learn to let go of the past. You will learn a lot about yourself and its truly
something special, be open minded don’t hold back let it all out and the feeling you will come
out with is truly amazing. I was sleeping better my energy levels came back and I was ready to
be a dad again and come back to my job.
CALFIRE, Fire Apparatus Engineer
To Whom it May Concern,
I will honestly say that this has changed my life. Trauma can be debilitating and after trying
every effort to just get by, I went to the 11th Hour. If you are dealing with trauma, Ms. Starr is
so very compassionate and deals with every person differently, according to their personal
needs. It is a nonjudgmental environment, so you can feel free to speak your mind. If you are
thinking about it, please just go. It is so worth living a happier, more fruitful life.
Rachael is one of the most competent, professional, knowledgeable, empathetic therapists I have known in 30 years of going to therapy. Often I say I could have shaved 15-20 of those years, of money and time, and hunting for therapists had I met Rachael sooner. Trauma is not something all therapists are equal to deal with effectively. Rachael has not only helped me address the root causes of my trauma, but also begin to heal from it. Rachael is the best and last therapist I will ever need.
30 years seeking therapy to heal childhood and PTSD.
I hope that this testimonial of mine, helps the person reading this, to understand the gift that you
may receive by attending Rachael Starr’s Therapy
I am a Fire Captain with CALFIRE, with 28 seasons of fire experience. I also have severe
PTSD as a result of my long-term career, and it has affected my life greatly. I was offered the
opportunity to attend Rachael Starr’s Therapy sessions, by the Department’s Employee Support
Like you, —- I was terrified at first, when I was told of “One on one, intensive EMDR sessions”
My brain panicked—-I had anxiety: I would be by MYSELF? —- What about the “other
programs where I have “buddies” with me”? It’s in another State? Am I locked down in a prison
cell? Can I use my cell phone for emergencies? Am I treated like a prisoner?
Calm down………….RELAX. You stay in a nearby hotel which is very nice, and close to
Racheal’s office. She can pick you up and drop you off? Or—-as I chose—-to simply walk the
few blocks to her office.—It was good to get exercise, and clear my mind. There are stores /
and restaurants nearby, and you are free to leave as you desire. Your evenings are free for you
to enjoy the beautiful area. You are free to use your cell phone, send emails, etc. This is NOT
punishment, nor treating you like a criminal. This is the HELP you need, and you are treated
like an adult that you are.
I’m not going to lie to you——–the EMDR is intense. It opens up wounds you hadn’t
consciously thought of. But it opens them up for you to deal with, accept, and put in your past.
It literally re-wires your brain, and you will find yourself in a “fog” at night as your mind heals
itself. Soon you will find that what you thought was a MAJOR trauma, is/was actually an “event”
that you went through, and is now OVER. You will learn how to respond to such
events/memories that come into your mind, and be able to put them aside.
“Group therapy” is just that: a bunch of people with various traumas thrown together and
sharing their stories, their trauma, and the TIME needed to heal. TIME—–which you are now
sharing with 4-7 other individuals—–reducing the focus / treatment TIME for YOU.
If you are looking for a “dude ranch” group therapy–where you ride horses, talk in a “group”
about your PTSD, and get exposed to even MORE trauma…..this isn’t the place for you. If you
want to be watched 24/7, treated like a criminal, and sit around a campfire at night singing “Kum
Bi Ya”, that is what you will get in “group therapy”.
I attended one such “group therapy” and I can honestly say—-it screwed me up more than I was
before I attended.
Rachael’s “One on One Therapy” focuses on YOU, and YOUR problems. You don’t need to be
exposed to other people’s trauma. This is about YOU.
You’ve been thru a lot already—— and you are still here. So, you have the strength. Now is
the time to get the help you need. You can do this. I can honestly say that after 10 years of
“cognitive therapy”—- this was the FIRST time—-that Racheal’s Therapy unlocked something in
me that is allowing me to heal. Don’t be afraid, you’ve gone through tougher battles in your life.
Pick up the phone, get on an airplane, and get your life back
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