Trauma can mean different things to different people, and there are many ways that individuals experience and reexperience traumatic incidents. Trauma can be defined as a negative event or series of events that have caused psychological injury and which still have an effect on you. The good news is that there is help and research shows that there are ways to heal from trauma.
Trauma can be big - a significant, shocking, life changing experience. You may have been the victim of a criminal act, or you were in a bad car accident, or you experienced abuse as a child. It is easy to see these as being traumatic and understanding the impact that they have on you. However, there are subtler types of trauma as well. While one incident may not cause psychological injury, an ongoing series of events can. Perhaps you were continuously bullied as a teenager, or you grew up with an alcoholic parent, or you experienced a natural disaster and the resulting aftermath.
Trauma is intrusive and has a direct effect on your mood and how you live your life. You may have thoughts, dreams or feelings that feel like you are right back in the horrible experience. You may avoid situations that could trigger the traumatic memories and feelings. Perhaps you become vigilant, waiting for the traumatic experience to return. All of these things have a significant impact on your life, preventing you from having the relationships you want, or experiencing life in a way that feels healthy and whole.
You may have struggled with trauma for many weeks or many years. Perhaps you have tried to control the symptoms of anxiety and depression that often accompany trauma but not experienced much change. In therapy, we work together to identify and strengthen internal resources to help you take care of yourself, address the symptoms you are experiencing, and most importantly, work to heal the psychological injury that has occured.
EMDR is a primary tool that I use with clients to heal trauma, as well as to treat anxiety and other issues. Years of research has shown it to be highly effective in dealing with trauma, disturbing memories, and other emotionally charged experiences.
EMDR uses bilateral stimulation (BLS) in the form of taps, tones or lights to stimulate your brain to reprocess traumatic memories. BLS, which happens naturally during dream sleep, speeds up your brain's ability to process and heal from troubling memories. This healing process allows you to feel more calm, integrated and to live a richer, fuller life.
After EMDR, many clients report that while they have not forgotten the original traumatic incident or any of the details, the memories no longer seem as intense or painful and there is less distress about them.