Trauma & EMDR
We often don't realize the impact of upsetting events. The first time a therapist labeled my own upsetting events as trauma it felt freeing. I suddenly realized why I experienced anxiety and other residual effects. When the effects of an upsetting event weave themselves in to your life many of us believe the effects are something we just have to deal with. This is not so. It is possible to heal from trauma.
When an unexpected upsetting event occurs, it is a shock to our nervous system. Trauma is an event that is threatening to one’s life, mind, or body. The event may be experienced firsthand by experiencing the event or secondhand by witnessing or hearing about the event. Trauma causes a mental and physiological reaction as the brain and body go in to fight, flight, or freeze mode. The mental and physical reaction that occurred during the event, or a similar reaction, may occur when sensory triggers of the traumatic event occur. These sensory triggers include sights, sounds, smells, and replaying the event in one’s head. Many don't realize that due to the body and brain trying to protect themselves from danger, the traumatic memory does not process like other memories. Instead, it gets stuck, and may cause physical and mental symptoms such as panic attacks, when triggered.
At the extreme end of the spectrum, unprocessed trauma may cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While we often hear of PTSD in relation to soldiers, any type of traumatic event may bring it on. This could include the trauma of sexual assault or a major car accident.
Though there are different interventions to reduce trauma symptoms, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, or EMDR, has been shown to be one of the most effective. This technique uses back and forth eye movements to process unresolved trauma in the brain. EMDR helps to resolve negative beliefs so you can begin living life without negative symptoms.
This technique is useful for both adults and children. I will practice EMDR with children as young as 5. In working with children, I implement play therapy along with EMDR in the form of board games, sandtray, drawing, and more.
Along with treating PTSD, EMDR has shown to be effective in treating panic attacks, complicated grief, phobias, stress, physical/mental abuse, body dysmorphic disorder, and more.
For more information on EMDR, visit EMDRIA.