Treatment for Trauma
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) is a very effective treatment for trauma. We typically associate trauma with horrific abuse, neglect or violence. But, it actually encompasses much more. Events such as divorce, illness, hospitalization; or abandonment by parents, caretakers or significant others can very often be traumatic. Also, what may not be traumatic for an adult can be very traumatic for a child; and what’s traumatic for one adult may not be traumatic for other adults. Trauma is not so much about the nature of the actual event as one’s ability to make sense of the event at the time it occurs and the ability to process the often overwhelming or debilitating emotions associated with the event.
At the time of the traumatic event, if no one is available or able to help us identify and feel the emotions, those emotions—because they’re too painful to feel—are typically buried and “frozen” in our minds and bodies. The feelings associated with the trauma can remain buried within us for years or decades. As time passes, we may even “forget” the traumatic event. But our bodies don’t forget.
We may find that actions, words or situations can trigger those emotions and throw us into an emotional tailspin that we can’t explain or understand on our own. We feel the often debilitating emotions all over again, but don’t know what they’re related to. Others may urge us to get over it, forget it, or move on. Our minds may tell us to just relax; but we can’t because it feels like we’ve been thrown into alarm mode. Feeling those old emotions can even trigger a fight-or-flight reaction.
That’s where EMDR comes in. It is a very simple, but effective, treatment to identify and release trauma-related emotions that that have remained frozen or stuck in the neural pathways of the body. The process allows the brain to process information related to the original traumatic event. Memory of the traumatic event—along with all of the associated emotions—is felt and released from the body so that the fight-or-flight reaction is no longer needed. Those innocuous situations that once triggered crippling emotions no longer have the same power. In essence, EMDR allows a person to feel safe in mind and body.
Situations that once triggered crippling emotions no longer have the same power.