Trauma. A shock to the body and mind that can have serious and lasting damage. It takes on different forms and comes in varying degrees.
At times, your body and mind can overcome trauma easily, at others times, you struggle. You may even develop a psychological condition called PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder).
Trauma and PTSD are inexorably linked because PTSD is provoked by traumatic experience or events.
Connecting the Dots Between Trauma and PTSD
PTSD occurs when a traumatic experience is so upsetting that it disrupts the information processing system of your brain and it cannot resolve the memory on its own. Normally, during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, your brain transfers episodic memory into semantic memory networks. This processing extracts the meaning of an event and eliminates certain aspects of it, such as any associated negative thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
However, when an experience is deeply unsettling, your brain may become unable to perform this natural function. Subsequently, it fails to eliminate the negative aspects of the event. Instead, it stores them along with the rest of the information.
This unprocessed memory can be triggered by various things – situations, objects, sensory input. When that happens, not only is the memory of the trauma retrieved, but the negative thoughts, emotions, and sensations connected to the trauma also resurface.
Why Those Suffering from Trauma and PTSD Can Benefit Greatly from EMDR Therapy
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is one of the best evidenced-based treatments for PTSD. It increases recognition of true memory information, without the negative association to thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
Consider five major reasons why you may benefit from EMDR therapy:
1. EMDR therapy benefits all types of trauma victims
EMDR therapy helps people of all ages (including children) and backgrounds suffering from all types of trauma – severe or not. Trauma and PTSD don’t just occur as a result of major, horrible events, such as rape, accidents, natural disasters, or battlefield experiences. Trauma also results from less severe events, like hurtful childhood experiences, dysfunctional family dynamics, anxiety, depression, or the loss of a loved one to death.
2. EMDR therapy may be used to address chronic and multiple traumas
Whether you suffered childhood trauma and lived with the anxiety brought on by the memories for a long time, endured multiple traumatic experiences, or don’t exactly remember what happened so long ago, EMDR can help. Over time, EMDR therapy assists you in systematically processing the pain and symptoms connected to your traumatic, and at times, unclear, or incorrect memories.
3. EMDR therapy does not require divulging deeply private or classified information
There’s no need for you to talk extensively about your trauma aloud nor spill classified data (a reason why EMDR is so useful for combat veterans). For example, prolonged exposure therapy and cognitive processing therapy require a patient to describe their traumatic memory in great detail. In contrast, EMDR sessions require only that you focus briefly on the disturbing memory while you’re during the processing phase. Your brain handles the rest of the work.
4. EMDR therapy carries a low risk of side-effects and discomfort
Unlike some medications, EMDR lacks negative side-effects. When focusing on trauma-related memories, you will probably experience some feelings of discomfort. However, those are usually brief. Also, the possibility of creating false memories, which can happen during talk therapy (due to an inadvertent suggestion by the therapist) is unlikely.
5. EMDR therapy does not just relieve trauma and PTSD symptoms
Of course, through processing, EMDR helps you get relief from symptoms, but it does more. During the body scan phase of the therapy, it lets you experience a feeling of physical recovery alongside your psychological recovery. In fact, EMDR aims to restore you to full emotional health and fulfillment.
There are myriad ways in which a Clinician might treat trauma symptoms and all have varying degrees of efficacy. In EMDR, the client may address not just the presenting symptoms of an issue, but could wind up with a range of other positive changes that affect all areas of his life such as relationships, jobs, self-esteem etc…
We all have experienced distressing and disturbing events in our lives. But it’s not necessary to still have pain in the present long after the experience has passed.