Do images, feelings or body sensations of the past continue to revisit you, negativly impacting your life?
Have you experienced some difficult events in the past, thought you have moved past them, but later realize that they keep popping up? Sometimes you might be reminded of the event, or you have a dream about it, or other times the feelings of the past just overwhelm you like a title wave that came out of no where. Does this seem to happen at inopportune times like when you’re trying to go to sleep at night? When you’re intimate with your partner? Or when a need isn’t being met you feel like you overreact or completely shut down?
Trauma affects our memories in weird ways. If you sit back and think about it, you are probably never overwhelmed with a memory if brusing your teeth, or taking our the garbage, or putting your shoes on. So why is it that some memories seem to affect us grately, where as others are just memories?
When something happens in our lives, that is outside the “window of tolerance of emotion” or you might say, super overwhelming, our brains do not adequately process the experience. This can be true of “Big T’s” because they are so intense, tragic and even life threatening. Another reason some memories might not be adequately processed is if multiple negative events pile on top of each other and you don’t have either the time, or especially, adequate support in processing through the events. Therefore the “trauma” doesn’t necessarily have to be big and life threatening, but could be small things that add up over time, or as I call them, “litttle t’s”
There is no event TOO BIG that cannot be healed, and there is no event TOO LITTLE that is insignificant
My clients fall on two ends of a spectrum when it comes to trauma, they either believe that their trauma is too big and they won’t be able to handle healing it, or they see their pain as insignificant and don’t recognize that they have trauma and believe their life wasn’t that bad, so, “why am I struggling so much when I shouldn’t be.”
So what exactly is EMDR and how can it help me?
EMDR stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.” It is built under the “adaptive information processing model” and believes that our brains can naturally heal given the right environment, skills and opportunity to do so. EMDR has a way to unlock the nervous system so that the traumas can be healed – the emotions, beliefs, and sensations associated with them move from maladaptive to adaptive and our past just becomes a moment in history vs. an experience that we relive.
Single Event Trauma vs. Complex Trauma
Single Event Trauma
A single event trauma is exactly what it sounds like. It is one traumatic event – such as a car accident that could potentially result in PTSD (or rather acute stress disorder) symptoms that could involve nightmares about the event, flashbacks, avoidance of the site of the accident, anxiety or panic attacks while driving or thinking about the event, anxiety or panic when you hear about an accident on the news etc. If you experience something like this and had a stable upbringing without prior traumas, then EMDR would likely be a “quick fix” and could potentially gain remission within a short few sessions.
Complex trauma, however, usually involves a multitude of traumas, likely beginning in early childhood. Some clients may say “nothing bad happened to me when I was younger” but there are many other factors that may indicate the need for complex trauma focused treatment. Parents who practiced poor boundaries, were absent, emotionally unavailable, or emotionally abusive could also create issues when working with a trauma later in life. So you may be coming in for treatment for a resent sexual assault, but complex trauma treatment may be indicated due to the presence of these issues that occurred earlier in life that could be blocking the brain to heal from the recent event. It is my job to do a thorough assessment to determine your treatment plan so that we can solve your issues without suffering from relapse later in life.
I became trained in EMDR due to feeling stuck with clients I was working with using other modalities of treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. These therapies have been shown to be effective and they are great, my clients learned a lot of skills most got better, some completed treatment, but some only “went so far” and others had a difficult time moving anywhere. CBT focuses on changing negative thoughts. Often times in therapy a client might say I know I’m NOT worthless but I FEEL worthless. I learned that knowledge was different than feelings causing a rut in the therapy process. Since treating clients with EMDR psychotherapy not only do clients learn they are worthwhile but the also FEEL worthwhile. Since my goal is to help people FEEL better I incorporate a psychotherapy practice that is highly successful in doing so.
Say you have been going to your therapist for a while an realized that EMDR therapy may be helpful but you do not want to end with your current therapist who is not trained in EMDR. I am able to set up a consultation appointment regarding your readiness for EMDR psychotherapy and we can all work together to help you over a hurdle. We would set up a contract as to what I would be treating vs. you current therapist and a plan of action as we move forward as well as ongoing collateral. Therefore EMDR therapy can be available to you if you want to continue with your current therapist to continue to work on other goals.
If you’re still having questions about EMDR and you’re thinking it might be a good fit for you, or someone recommended it to you and you’re not quite sure if it will be helpful for you, I invite you to give me a call or send an e-mail. I offer a free 15 minute phone consult where you can ask me a bunch of questions and then determine if you want to set up an appointment. If you’ve read through this page and are thinking, “wow, this is me and I’d love to not feel this way anymore,” then I invite you to reach out today and we can start your path toward healing.