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.

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