Move Past Your Trauma and Rediscover All of the Optimism and Joy Life Has to Offer!
If you’re like many of the clients I help every day and you’ve been suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, grief, guilt, depression, insomnia, recurring nightmares, or the distressing memories caused by abuse or other traumatic events, I know just how debilitating these issues can be, both for your relationships and for your life.
You may be struggling with disturbing emotions, painful memories, or a sense of constant danger that you just can’t seem to overcome. Or, alternatively, you may feel numb, detached, or incapable of trusting others.
After a while, you may no longer feel you can even think straight … the people and things that once brought joy to your life have lost their meaning … you may even have difficulties keeping up with your day-to-day responsibilities, and find yourself wondering how you’re going to keep on… well, going.
Fortunately, you do NOT need to keep feeling this way!
I know it may be difficult to believe right now – you probably feel as if you’ve tried just about everything to break the vicious cycle you’re trapped within – but help is available. And that help doesn’t require a lifetime of prescription medications or countless sessions of traditional counseling and psychotherapy.
But, first, we need to get clear on how and why you’ve come to feel this way…
What Causes Trauma?
Emotional trauma is the anguish, suffering, and pain we feel after experiencing an extraordinarily stressful event… an event that shatters your sense of security and makes you feel vulnerable and helpless.
While traumatic experiences often involve threats to our safety (or even our very lives), any situation that leaves you feeling alone and overwhelmed can result in emotional trauma, even if the experience doesn’t involve physical harm.
For example, emotional trauma can result from a wide range of experiences, including but not limited to:
- Automobile and other accidents;
- Falls or sports injuries;
- Separation from a parent;
- Parental neglect;
- Domestic violence;
- Criminal assault;
- The breakup of a significant relationship;
- The sudden death of a loved one;
- A humiliating or deeply disappointing experience;
- Surgery or other intrusive medical procedures (especially in the first few years of life);
- Natural and man-made disasters;
- The combat experiences of soldiers and civilians;
- A disabling condition or chronic or life-threatening illness; and
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
Of course, not everyone who experiences a potentially traumatic event ends up suffering emotional and psychological damage.
Some people seem to rebound quickly from even the most shocking or tragic experiences, while others appear devastated by seemingly much less disturbing events.
We all process information and experiences differently… and we all do so in a physiological way. What do I mean by that?
Well, just as our digestive systems extract and process the vitamins and minerals we need from the food we eat, our brains process our experiences and store memories in an accessible and useful form.
When a traumatic event occurs, no matter how seemingly great or small – from being teased by peers or disparaged by parents to sexual abuse or physical violence – strong negative feelings or dissociation can interfere with our brains’ ability to process the information we receive during these experiences. The pictures, sounds, thoughts, and feelings associated with the experience often become locked in our nervous systems.
And, just as eating unhealthy or dangerous foods can result in our digestive systems’ inability to process the nutrients, minerals, and toxins and lead to physical discomfort and even disease, when we’re unable to process unhealthy or traumatic experiences, we’re more than likely to experience emotional pain and even more serious psychological issues.
When our experiences (our memories) of a traumatic experience are not fully processed, our initial perceptions, emotions, and distorted thoughts remain locked inside of us as we experienced them at the time of the event. It is this unprocessed, “trapped” distress that interrupts our normal emotional functioning.
While we may intellectually know and understand that the past is the past, our brains can’t help but continue playing back those trapped, unprocessed memories in response to our present experiences.
So, how can you process and release these trapped memories so you can begin moving forward again?!?
Efficient and Effective Trauma Treatment
While prescription medications can help treat the anxiety, depression, and other symptoms that arise from prior trauma, they do nothing to process and release the trapped memories that underlie these symptoms.
Until recently, helping people work through and reprocess traumatic experiences has been a difficult process that required long-term counseling and psychotherapy.
Thankfully, a relatively recent therapeutic technique known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has proven extremely effective at helping people just like you overcome anxiety, depression, panic attacks, stress, phobias, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress, as well as numerous other emotional issues.
EMDR treatment has been called a “breakthrough” therapy technique by many clients and mental health professionals alike, as it is a relatively short-term treatment that’s been shown to be safe, effective, and long lasting, without requiring the use of medications.
It is a simple, non-invasive process, which facilitates emotional healing quickly and effectively.
So, how does EMDR therapy work?
EMDR is based on the rapid eye movement (REM) the human brain uses during sleep that helps us process our daily emotional experiences. This back-and-forth eye movement bi-laterally stimulates the brain, allowing us to reconnect our left-brain and right-brain hemispheres, and it’s the same bi-lateral stimulation that EMDR uses to help us reprocess traumatic experiences.
That being said, while EMDR typically involves the use of rapid, bi-lateral eye movements, it may also involve tapping, tonal, or other bi-lateral stimulation. This is because it’s the bi-lateral stimulation of EMDR that allows us to re-experience previously trapped emotions in a non-threatening way so that healing can occur.
The bi-lateral stimulations of EMDR are used to engage your attention with an external stimulus while your therapist helps you simultaneously focus on distressing internal material.
You’ll be asked to non-judgmentally report on your thoughts and feelings as they arise and then create new associative links between the original traumatic memories and more positive beliefs, thereby making it possible for you to reprocess and release these trapped memories and choose your actions going forward rather than simply reacting to past experiences over and over again.
You’ll repeat this process of bi-lateral stimulation while simultaneously re-experiencing and re-processing traumatic memories numerous times over the course of each session, as it is these repeated brief exposures that provide you the practice you need to control and dismiss disturbing internal stimuli, ultimately allowing you to achieve a sense of mastery over the process so you can manage and reduce negative reactions going forward on your own.
EMDR treatment typically continues until the traumatic memories and their associated thoughts and feelings have been fully relieved.
While EMDR may sound like and even work similarly to hypnosis, they are not the same and clients remain conscious and in control throughout the EMDR treatment session.
It’s also important to note that EMDR therapy is a highly specialized treatment approach that requires supervised training in order to be safe and effective. Only licensed mental health professionals (such as marriage and family therapists, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers) can receive EMDR training, and you should request to see a copy of your therapist’s EMDR training certificate prior to beginning treatment.
Can EMDR Therapy Help You?
While a multitude of studies have shown the efficacy of EMDR and it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and PTSD by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the Department of Defense, and the World Health Organization, EMDR therapy still remains controversial among some health care professionals.
For starters, EMDR is a relatively new therapeutic technique and even the most enthusiastic supporters of EMDR have not agreed on why the treatment is as effective as it is. Even the American Psychiatric Association, which acknowledges EMDR’s efficacy in treating trauma, admits EMDR needs further study to more fully understand it.
Yet, repeated studies have shown time and time again that EMDR can help people experience many of the benefits of traditional counseling and psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. In fact, one recent study of individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress found that almost 90% of participants experienced relief from their emotional distress after only three EMDR sessions!
Another study has shown EMDR to be twice as effective at relieving trauma in half the amount of time of more traditional approaches to psychotherapy.
This all being said, while many people do experience dramatic results after using EMDR for a relatively brief period of time, each one of us is unique. Our experiences of the world are no one else’s and we all process information and respond to events in different ways.
However, in the last two decades alone more than half a million people around the world have experienced the immediate and long-term benefits of EMDR treatment.
EMDR treatment usually lasts from 4-12 sessions, and is designed specifically to help you reprocess all of your dysfunctional memories, relieve current incidents that cause distress, and prepare you for future scenarios that may require different responses.
The overall goal is for you to experience the most positive, comprehensive, and profound treatment effects possible in the shortest amount of time, while simultaneously maintaining your stability and functionality.
I’ve seen firsthand the fast and effective results EMDR offers, and I’ve integrated EMDR into the broader treatment approach I offer clients.
Of course, like any psychotherapy technique, EMDR is not a “one-size-fits-all” trauma treatment solution. In the end, only you can decide whether or not EMDR treatment is right for you…
But, if you’re looking to cope with and overcome emotional distress and the debilitating effects of past traumatic experiences, EMDR offers faster relief than other treatments available.
Given the worldwide recognition and use of EMDR as an efficient and effective trauma treatment, as well as its usefulness in helping people cope with and overcome the “everyday” situations and memories that lead to people’s feelings of powerlessness, low self-esteem, and the myriad other issues that bring them into a psychotherapist’s office, EMDR is definitely a therapeutic treatment that’s worth more than just a quick sideways or passing glance!
If you’ve suffered a traumatic event and your symptoms aren’t decreasing… If you’re feeling especially overwhelmed or find you’re lacking a support network… Whether the traumatic events you’ve experienced happened yesterday or years ago, you CAN heal, move past your trauma, and rediscover all of the optimism and joy life has to offer… and I can help.