What It Means to Heal from Trauma and How EMDR Can Help

Trauma occurs when a terrible event or series of events go unresolved. Traumatic events can leave a person emotionally broken. This can include a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). People with PTSD may display symptoms like:

  • Guilt and shame
  • Despair and hopelessness
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Withdrawal and social isolation
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Loss of trust
  • Substance abuse
  • Sexual problems
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Avoidance
  • Thoughts of death, dying, and suicide

Obviously, it is important to get treatment for your trauma. But it’s far easier said than done. One powerful method to bring you some healing is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR.

Examples of Traumatic Events

  • Death of a loved one
  • Exposure to domestic violence
  • Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
  • Divorce or separation
  • Loss of financial stability
  • Relocation
  • Changing jobs, getting fired, or retirement
  • Being victimized by a crime
  • Injury, accident, or disability
  • Loss of a dream or goal

In the end, trauma lies in the eye of the beholder. We are not here to judge what caused trauma. Rather, the main goal is finding a way to heal from it, e.g. EMDR.

How EMDR Can Help

EMDR practitioners view emotional wounds as most people look at physical wounds. A wound needs time and space to heal. If it is aggravated before the healing process is completed, the pain will return. With EMDR, the wound of trauma is seen as something that must be processed in the proper way. Through a series of eight phases, EMDR is designed to:

  1. Resolve a traumatic memory
  2. Replace it with a positive thought, belief, or sensation

EMDR Processing

Your EMDR therapist will perform a thorough intake and history. After that, you will be asked to choose a specific memory or belief to focus on. This could mean seeing a visual image in your mind’s eye or feeling a particular bodily sensation.

While you focus on this memory, the EMDR therapist will move their fingers from side to side in front of your eyes. They are made to get your eyes to follow the movements in the same side-to-side motion. (Note: Some practitioners may use a wand.) This combination of hand and eye movements provokes a state, not unlike that of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. In this state, it has been found that people can process unresolved trauma. The memory will no longer cause distress.

Following this procedure, you will be asked to identify the positive belief mentioned above. Focusing on this image during EMDR processing can lead to the positive belief “replacing” the negative image in your brain. The pain of the traumatic events is emotionally transformed into a state of healing.

Is EMDR Successful?

The research results have been excellent — leading to endorsements from the American Psychiatric Association and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Here is just a sampling of the studies:

  • War veterans reported a PTSD remission rate of 78 percent after just 12 sessions.
  • After only three 90-minute sessions of EMDR, victims of sexual assault showed a 90 percent PTSD remission.
  • A Kaiser Permanente study of multiple-trauma victims found 77 percent of them no longer had a diagnosis of PTSD after six 50-minute sessions. For single-trauma victims, that number was an astonishing 100 percent.
  • In other studies, EMDR was also shown to be helpful for children struggling with self-esteem issues.

How to Heal from Trauma With EMDR

This journey to recovery begins with a simple phone call. EMDR is an unusual treatment approach and that means you probably have plenty of questions. Why not read more about trauma therapy and reach out today to set up a safe and confidential consultation? We’re here to help and get you started on a healing path.

Minority Populations

As a member of a minority group, you might have very valid reasons to question whether or not therapy is right for you. You may have reservations because of certain cultural beliefs. Alternatively, you may have had bad experiences with therapy in the past. This can be particularly true if you worked with someone who didn’t understand your background or your identity, or worse if you worked with someone who minimized or didn’t care about these aspects of who you are. We understand these hesitations and want to work with you to find the therapist and therapy approach that best meets your unique needs.

Is Therapy Right for You?

There are three key reasons that members of minority groups tend to distrust therapy or wonder if it’s something that’s right for them.

The first is that certain cultures really look down upon therapy. There’s often an expressed or implied mantra in the culture or family that basically says, “we keep these things private.” You may be working against that ingrained belief, trying to figure out if you personally can break the taboo and benefit from therapy.

Second, you may have had a terrible experience with therapy in the past. If that’s the case, of course you wonder if therapy could ever be right for you. However, we believe that everyone has the right to access therapy treatment. We want to help give you a better experience than what you may have had before, whether that is here or with one of our trusted colleagues in the community.

Finally, you may question whether or not a therapist can actually understand you. Thankfully, the field of psychotherapy is more diverse now than it has been in the past. That said, it is a difficult and self-evident truth that it can still be quite challenging to find a therapist that looks like you or shares your life experience. Though we are a diversity-affirming, culturally aware group of therapists, we also acknowledge that we are also a group of predominantly white, female-identified therapists. We recognize that some clients are looking for a different experience, and we whole-heartedly support that. We are invested in helping clients find a place they can be comfortable with their therapy process. It is critically important you find a culturally competent counselor who understands that therapy for minorities must recognize the unique background you’re from.

Why Do Minorities Receive Less Mental Health Support?

Historically, and even currently, minorities have received less mental health support. The concerns listed above directly relate to that. When the predominant faces and lives in the field of therapy don’t represent certain groups of people, then those groups of people are less likely to seek treatment.

Although the demographics of the therapist community have changed significantly, there are naturally long-lasting effects from the past. As a result, minorities may not feel safe seeking out treatment. After all, why would you seek help if your culture was against it and the experiences you had or heard about only reinforced that it could not help you? Especially when there is a history of mistreatment by those in the profession who have privilege and power that clients don’t have.

We acknowledge that our field has mistreated and harmed many people in minority populations. Every therapist at Affinity is actively committed to reversing that history within our profession as a whole and within ourselves as providers.

Culturally Competent Therapy

We are a practice that affirms and celebrates diversity. We make it a priority to offer cultural therapy that provides the type of experience that will most benefit you. Culturally competent therapy means that we work to understand the culture that you come from while also fully recognizing that you are an individual. In other words, we respect your culture and offer treatment in line with your beliefs, but we don’t assume anything at all about you based on your culture.

We don’t ever expect you to educate us about your culture, whether that is a culture influenced by your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, religious beliefs, ability status, etc.

Instead, we come to the table with a deep appreciation for different cultures and backgrounds, and a strong willingness to educate ourselves. At the same time, we are genuinely curious about you as an individual and what your own culture uniquely means to you.

Individually, we also have an awareness of the forces of power and privilege that are active in our own lives and that can come into the therapy room with us. We believe that expressing and acknowledging our places of privilege are sometimes a necessary and appropriate part of the therapeutic process. We are ready and willing to talk to you about that, if needed and wanted.

We want to help you explore whatever issues, conflicts, concerns, goals, and dreams you have. If that means working within a certain cultural paradigm, we are happy to help you with that. If it means offering other insights to complement your experience, we can offer that as well. We can meet you where you are and help you get to where you want to be.

If you are struggling mental health issues such as PTSD, we can help you overcome the past. Contact us today to help you on your journey.