It’s become a bit of a joke these days that everyone has trauma. Some people have a hard time believing that is the case, especially when reflecting on combat veterans or children with sexual abuse—in other words, who really has trauma?
In a world wrought with unpredictability, violence, broken families, emotionally-manipulative entertainment, and addictive social media, it doesn’t take much to realize quickly that nobody escapes life without some type of disorientation that affects their identity and place in the world.
In fact, more and more research studies show that trauma isn’t the horrible stuff that happened to you, but it is being alone in the aftermath of such experiences. Founder of EFT, Sue Johnson, writes, “Trauma is an attachment injury…and, the best defense of all is to have a loved one stand beside you in the dark.” Attachment science is rooted in evidence-based research that demonstrates all human beings are wired for secure attachment, and when that secure attachment is threatened, the body will go into a primal panic. Moreover, when we have no one to share the pain of disturbing life experience with, our bodies are unable to process—and release—the underlying terror and fear. Underneath trauma is a healthy person who is no longer able to give full expression of themselves; sadly, life is now run by unconscious dynamics of avoidance. Understanding those unconscious dynamics is key to treatment.
THERE ARE THREE HALLMARKS TO TRAUMA
#1: Fragmentation—The body fragments the experience as a way of keeping you from the horror of the whole story so that you can survive. This is why it can be easy to dismiss harmless life experiences as “not a big deal” because we can’t really perceive the fullness of what happened to us. Creating purposeful meaning in life can become difficult.
#2: Dissociation—Your life and/or the world around you feel less real. Your consciousness must go somewhere else to keep you functioning in other ways. An ability to regulate emotions and stay present in the moment becomes extremely compromised, making confident life decisions nearly impossible.
#3: Isolation—Safety with others is now coded as threatening in your body, so it’s better to physically and emotionally isolate. Shame, self-blame, and an inability to trust oneself and people color interactions with others.
Again, trauma research is unequivocal that the human brain will continue to retraumatize itself unless healthier strategies for survival are found. If all trauma is an attachment injury, the best chance for releasing those unconscious dynamics is through attachment-based trauma reprocessing. At Therapy With Heart, each and every therapist is trained in attachment theory. Attachment-based EMDR addresses all the hallmarks of therapy—so, got trauma? Then, get EMDR.
EMDR is NOT pseudo-science.
EMDR is NOT woo-woo.
EMDR is certainly NOT retraumatizing.
EMDR, or eye movement desensitization reprocessing, is an evidence-based, highly-researched, and effective psychotherapy modality proven to help people recover from symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.
The mind can, in fact, heal from psychological trauma, the way a body heals from physical trauma. EMDR employs bi-lateral stimulation (can be through physical touch of the left and right side of the body, audio sounds that play from one side of the ear to the other, or movement of eyes from left to right). This bi-lateral stimulation is what accesses the memory neural network associated with disturbing experiences, body sensations, and emotions to reconsolidate—addressing the three hallmarks of trauma: fragmentation, dissociation, and avoidance.
What was thought to take years to heal is no longer the case through EMDR, and Therapy With Heart is proud to introduce EMDR intensives.
EMDR is typically administered in a traditional 50-minute therapeutic session. However, we found clients are served best when they have more time to reprocess disturbing symptoms. As a client-centered practice, we feel it is important to give clients options for the treatment that is most conducive to their healing. Therefore, EMDR intensives are now offered in 3-hour or 6-hour blocks and include a treatment plan focused on addressing client’s most distressing and immediate needs first.
If your past is getting in the way of living the life you feel truly called to lead, then please know that there are therapists ready and able to work with you in a professional and emotionally-safe environment. To close, the Buddha wrote, “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” EMDR works to restore your mind so that you can become more whole, present, and engaged in your life.
If you have any questions about Therapy With Heart’s EMDR intensives, please click here.