Trauma and EMDR
Trauma is a big “buzz word” these days. Lots of people talk about trauma and about providing trauma informed care in schools, at work, and even in the court system. While it’s great to have more people understand trauma and best ways to help others with it, it is still not very well understood and we are learning more about it all the time. Most people understand trauma as being the BIG things like assault (physical or sexual), war, natural disasters and so on; but there is another type of trauma where experiences that we have personally are traumatic for us and change how we see the world. This could be as simple as a parent telling us we didn’t try our best at something, it could be being bullied in grade school, it could be someone we were close to betraying us, it could even be a parent being unresponsive to us emotionally at a critical time we needed them. These often have a way of impacting our relationships and how we function in them, which in turn also impacts how we function in the world around us.
“I have had depression since I was a child and just thought that's who I was. Now I am free from depression and anxiety for the first time in my life. EMDR is an amazing resource.”
One of the best ways to work through trauma is with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). When we experience a trauma, whether big or little, sometimes it gets locked in our brain and we stay in the fight, flight, or freeze response. With EMDR we can go back into the memory and let the brain process it and put it away. This allows people to move out of the trauma reactivity and back into a more normal emotional response.
The process of EMDR is quite simple on the outside but more complex on the inside. Not everyone who is trained to do EMDR is good at it. It takes a lot of experience and a depth of understanding about the brain to really have success at it. I use EMDR not only for trauma and PTSD but also for places where people feel stuck and unable to progress. It may be that we are repeating the same dating relationship over and over with different people, it may be the anxiety we feel, it may the depression that consumes us or the compulsive behaviors that we engage in to soothe ourselves. EMDR is also used by athletes and in the business world for performance enhancement and higher functioning. If you would like to learn more about EMDR, please visit EMDRIA.org.
I have done a lot of training with various experts in the field of trauma treatment but my favorite is Bessel van der Kolk. I also like the work of Dan Siegel, Stephen Porges and Peter Levine. I utilize Internal Family Systems as a base intervention for all trauma work and love the narrative lens that it brings to this work. If you have any questions about trauma or how I work with trauma, please reach out and ask.