Trauma and PTSD

What is Trauma?

A trauma is any overwhelming experience that exceeds one’s ability to cope. Trauma can result from a single incident such as a car accident, rape, witnessing an act of violence against another person, or a natural disaster, or it can be more complex, such as the multiple traumas that occur with child abuse or neglect. The effects of trauma can accumulate and end up interfering with a person’s ability to fully function. Some of the symptoms of trauma are as follows:

  • Easily startled
  • Extreme alertness; always on the lookout for warnings of potential danger
  • Detachment from other people and emotions
  • Emotional numbing
  • Feelings of guilt and/or shame
  • Irritable and/or angry behavior with little or no provocation
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Recurring and intrusive memories of a traumatic event
  • Nightmares related to the event
  • Avoidance of memories, thoughts or feelings associated with the event
  • Avoidance of people, places, activities, etc. that trigger memories of the event
  • Social isolation and withdrawal
  • Lack of interest in previously-enjoyable activities
  • Difficulty remembering aspects of the event
  • Negative beliefs about or expectations of oneself

 The Long Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect

Many people suffer for years with symptoms related to untreated psychological trauma. These symptoms can show up in a multitude of ways, including substance abuse, sexual problems, social withdrawal, difficulty with relationships, depression, anxiety, and problems with self-esteem. Many cases of psychological trauma result from childhood abuse and neglect. If you would like more information about the long term consequences of childhood abuse and neglect, click the link below from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/long_term_consequences.pdf

Trauma and EMDR Therapy

My experience working with trauma survivors has led me to understand just how essential it is to acquire the knowledge and skills for maintaining a trauma-informed practice. I have a passion for working with trauma survivors, and I am grateful to have been able to witness significant positive changes in the lives of my clients. As part of my services, I provide a well researched and highly effective treatment for trauma: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR therapy). EMDR therapy has been approved of and considered an effective treatment modality for psychological trauma by the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Psychiatric Association, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), amongst other international health agencies. 

How does EMDR Therapy Work and What Can You Expect?

When a person becomes highly upset and overwhelmed by an experience, the brain is unable to process information as it normally does. A traumatic experience appears to then get locked in the nervous system along with the original images, sounds, thoughts and feelings associated with that event. Since the experience is locked there, it continues to be triggered whenever a reminder comes up. Remembering or experiencing something similar to a past trauma may feel as badly now as the original trauma felt. This trauma can be the basis for a lot of discomfort and painful feelings that you may not feel you can control, and can also have lasting effects on your relationships and worldview.

Through the process of EMDR therapy, “stuck” memories, feelings and thoughts seems to become unlocked, allowing the mind and body to finally process traumatic material. The EMDR protocol consists of 8 phases. During some of these phases, eye movements, audial sounds, buzzing sensations through hand held pulsers, or physical tapping (such as on the knees) are used to bilaterally stimulate the brain. While the field of neuroscience continues to evolve and provide us with new research, it is believed that this bilateral stimulation may be similar to the biological mechanism involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.

For more information regarding EMDR therapy, visit http://www.emdria.org/