EMDR: Trauma & the Brain

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WHAT IS TRAUMA?

There are large “T” traumas such as rape, war, assault, sexual, physical & emotional abuse, accidents (or witnessing one), natural disasters, divorce, chronic/acute illness, etc and there are small “t” traumas such as betrayal, mild forms of bullying or negative feedback, lack of proper emotional support as a child, etc.

Events happen to you that you are unable to process and you are left feeling overwhelmed, with symptoms that just won’t go away, that’s also considered a trauma response. Memories are stored in the brain and symptoms can also be experienced and felt throughout pains or aches in the body.  There is a mind-body connection and what we think and feel reflects our pains and joys through behavioral and thought patterns.  In order to heal you have to deal with the whole person, both the body and mind.  If the trauma remains unresolved, it will, many times, cause symptoms in your present life.

Symptoms from Trauma:

  • Anxiety & panic attacks, avoiding anything anxiety provoking.

  • Inability to be assertive and insecurity

  • Depression

  • Sabotaging behaviors

  • Easily angered or frustrated

  • Addictions

  • Feelings of worthlessness or inadequacies or a need to be perfect

  • Poor body image

  • Suicidal and self-abusive tendencies

  • Physical illnesses

  • Flashbacks, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, intrusive thoughts

WHY DOES TRAUMA CAUSE SYMPTOMS LIKE THESE?

It could be that the event was too overwhelming and frightening and you didn’t know how to process it.  Maybe there were too many things going on in your life and you were on overload at the time. Or perhaps you were too young and might not have had enough support in your life to help you sort out the situation.  You might habitually push things away that seem too painful.  Whatever the reason, because you were unable to process the event, it got locked in your brain, with all the disturbing emotions and sensations that you originally experienced unchanged.  Remembering this event, or even when you try not to remember because it’s too painful, evokes trauma symptoms. You try to keep these memories at bay and might be successful for quite a while but eventually this will catch up with you. If a traumatic memory can’t be processed when other events occur that remind you of the original traumatic event, emotions begin to emerge from the past memory network and connect to the present. You might try to protect yourself by putting it behind you, but eventually it takes fewer and fewer stimuli to activate the emotions associated with the traumatic memory.  Often the feelings become so powerful that they can take over and leave you feeling out of control. When that happens it’s like you’ve been hijacked by your emotions. Your reaction is not proportional to the present stimuli; some insignificant event can trigger an explosion.

Taken from EMDR Essentials by Barb Maiberge

HOW DOES EMDR WORK?

No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. One moment becomes “frozen in time,” and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.

WHAT IS THE ACTUAL EMDR SESSION LIKE?

During EMDR, the therapist works with the client to identify a specific problem as the focus of the treatment session. The client calls to mind the disturbing issue or event, what was seen, felt, heard, thought, etc., and what thoughts and beliefs are currently held about that event. The therapist facilitates the directional movement of the eyes or other dual attention stimulation of the brain, while the client focuses on the disturbing material, and the client just notices whatever comes to mind without making any effort to control direction or content. Each person will process information uniquely, based on personal experiences and values. Sets of eye movements are continued until the memory becomes less disturbing and is associated with positive thoughts and beliefs about one’s self; for example, “I did the best I could.” During EMDR, the client may experience intense emotions, but by the end of the session, most people report a great reduction in the level of disturbance.

Suzanne Rucker, Licensed Mental Health Counselor

EMDR & ASAT Certified

www.SuzanneRucker.com

LifeCounselingSolutions@gmail.com

(407) 967-9313

Suzanne would like to help her clients find happiness in life.  Are you depressed or anxious wondering how you can get through the next day? Do you feel over-worked and under-appreciated?  Do you have a difficult maintaining your weight, managing your finances, coping with your own addiction or the addiction of someone else, or maybe you are having a hard time getting along with your spouse or a difficult teenager?  There is relief….The first step, which is the most difficult, is making the call to seek help and direction for a better life.

Suzanne Specializes In: Relationship Problems, Recovery & Strengthening, Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Management, Sexual Addiction/Love Addiction & Co-Dependency (women & men), Addictions (drugs, alcohol, shopping, etc),Trauma ,Personal/Sports/and Corporate Coaching. Clinical Training: CSAT : Suzanne is trained in sexual addictions from the prestigious IITAP institute and Patrick Carnes, EMDR (eye movement and desensitization and reprocessing):

Suzanne offers this processing technique for relief from traumas, anxiety, depression, addictions, fears, phobias, and test anxiety.  EMDR can also enhance sports and speaking/professional performances, Prepare/Enrich: Suzanne can help you learn how to build stronger relationships through communication and conflict resolution skill building.  This program is ideal for premarital counseling, marriage preparation, marriage counseling, and marriage enrichment, Suzanne earned her MS in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University.