Throughout our lives, we all experience traumatic events; for example, the death of a loved one or a pet, loss of a job, car accidents, and painful medical procedures. Other, more intense traumas, like childhood sexual/physical/emotional abuse, major accidents, or witnessing extremely violent or horrifying events, can lead to feelings of overwhelm or make it difficult to function in our daily lives. Symptoms we may encounter include:
- Avoiding any potentially stressful situation
- Avoiding people and places that remind you of the trauma
- Panicking in social situations you cannot escape
- Hiding your feelings of anxiety and fear
- Smiling or laughing so others think you’re happy
- Withdrawing from relationships with loved ones
- Struggling to fall asleep and/or stay asleep
- Reliving the trauma in dreams and flashbacks
- Suffering in your performance at work
- Drinking or abusing drugs to mask your problems
- Avoiding plans for the future
- Thinking about suicide
- Feeling like you’re facing everything alone
If you sense that you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from the effects of trauma. Among our techniques is a highly effective tool in helping people to return to healthy functioning after experiencing a traumatic event is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). EMDR has been used with combat veterans, firefighters, policemen, survivors of natural disasters, emergency service workers, missionaries, and others.
EMDR is significantly different from what most people think therapy or counseling is; talking about a problem. One key aspect of EMDR is that you do not have to talk in detail about a trauma for it to be digested by your own information processing system. Basically this involves what some have called bottom up instead of a top down processing. In other words, rather than trying to talk through the problem, the processing occurs on a physiological level and allows new associations, insights, and emotions to emerge spontaneously. EMDR involves a very specific set of procedures to help this digestive function in the brain, which neurobiologists refer to as information processing.
Major traumas and other disturbing life experiences are stored in a memory system that holds the emotions and body sensations that were part of the event. This often prevents the brain from being able to access other more helpful information that clarifies and comforts us and therefore the memory is unable to resolve the negative feelings and sensations associated with it and remains active in our bodies and minds. The process of EMDR allows that memory to access the other parts of the mind that contain the information that will provide relief for the traumatized person.
For more information about EMDR visit www.EMDRIA.org