The reality is no one can "treat" trauma, or any terrible event or experience, but what can be dealt with are the imprints of trauma on the body, mind, and soul.
Trauma robs you of self-leadership. The challenge of recovery is to re-establish that ownership of self, which means feeling free to feel what you feel and think what you think without getting overwhelmed, scared, ashamed, or enraged.
Trauma is more than a story about something that happened. The emotions and physical sensations that were imprinted during trauma are experienced not as memories, but as disruptive reactions in the present. In order to regain control, you will need to revisit the trauma: sooner or later you need to confront and engage what happened to you, but only after you feel safe, and will not be re-traumatized by the experience.
That's where therapy comes in. As a team we are passionate about working with trauma, and it is out hope to provide you the safety and clarity to reprocess and address your experience using both our relational expertise and the most up to date processes. We can help lead you through the intricate process of regaining control, experiencing healing, and restoring hope in the enjoyment of relationships and managing emotional experience.
We practice using both EMDR & Brainspotting techniques, and have had consistent success with clients on a spectrum of traumatic experiences. Take a look below at the descriptions of each approach and recent testimonials from others like you who have decided to take this brave step in regaining control.
EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing: The following is taken directly from EMDRIA's official statement.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.
More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy. Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions. Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR therapy would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy. Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years.
EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment. Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during one part of the session. After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, he asks the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision. As this happens, for reasons believed by a Harvard researcher to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level. For instance, a rape victim shifts from feeling horror and self-disgust to holding the firm belief that, “I survived it and I am strong.” Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes. The net effect is that clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that once debased them. Their wounds have not just closed, they have transformed. As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, the clients’ thoughts, feelings and behavior are all robust indicators of emotional health and resolution—all without speaking in detail or doing homework used in other therapies.
EMDR therapy combines different elements to maximize treatment effects. A full description of the theory, sequence of treatment, and research on protocols and active mechanisms can be found in F. Shapiro (2001) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Basic principles, protocols and procedures (2nd edition) New York: Guilford Press.
EMDR therapy involves attention to three time periods: the past, present, and future. Focus is given to past disturbing memories and related events. Also, it is given to current situations that cause distress, and to developing the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions. With EMDR therapy, these items are addressed using an eight-phase treatment approach.
Phase 1: The first phase is a history-taking session(s). The therapist assesses the client’s readiness and develops a treatment plan. Client and therapist identify possible targets for EMDR processing. These include distressing memories and current situations that cause emotional distress. Other targets may include related incidents in the past. Emphasis is placed on the development of specific skills and behaviors that will be needed by the client in future situations.
Initial EMDR processing may be directed to childhood events rather than to adult onset stressors or the identified critical incident if the client had a problematic childhood. Clients generally gain insight on their situations, the emotional distress resolves and they start to change their behaviors. The length of treatment depends upon the number of traumas and the age of PTSD onset. Generally, those with single event adult onset trauma can be successfully treated in under 5 hours. Multiple trauma victims may require a longer treatment time.
Phase 2: During the second phase of treatment, the therapist ensures that the client has several different ways of handling emotional distress. The therapist may teach the client a variety of imagery and stress reduction techniques the client can use during and between sessions. A goal of EMDR therapy is to produce rapid and effective change while the client maintains equilibrium during and between sessions.
Phases 3-6: In phases three to six, a target is identified and processed using EMDR therapy procedures. These involve the client identifying three things:
The vivid visual image related to the memory
A negative belief about self
Related emotions and body sensations.
In addition, the client identifies a positive belief. The therapist helps the client rate the positive belief as well as the intensity of the negative emotions. After this, the client is instructed to focus on the image, negative thought, and body sensations while simultaneously engaging in EMDR processing using sets of bilateral stimulation. These sets may include eye movements, taps, or tones. The type and length of these sets is different for each client. At this point, the EMDR client is instructed to just notice whatever spontaneously happens.
After each set of stimulation, the clinician instructs the client to let his/her mind go blank and to notice whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind. Depending upon the client’s report, the clinician will choose the next focus of attention. These repeated sets with directed focused attention occur numerous times throughout the session. If the client becomes distressed or has difficulty in progressing, the therapist follows established procedures to help the client get back on track.
When the client reports no distress related to the targeted memory, (s)he is asked to think of the preferred positive belief that was identified at the beginning of the session. At this time, the client may adjust the positive belief if necessary, and then focus on it during the next set of distressing events.
Phase 7: In phase seven, closure, the therapist asks the client to keep a log during the week. The log should document any related material that may arise. It serves to remind the client of the self-calming activities that were mastered in phase two.
Phase 8: The next session begins with phase eight. Phase eight consists of examining the progress made thus far. The EMDR treatment processes all related historical events, current incidents that elicit distress, and future events that will require different responses
Brainspotting: The following is taken directly from David Grand, Ph.D., the developer & trainer of Brainspotting methodology and technique.
Brainspotting locates points in the client’s visual field that help to access unprocessed trauma in the subcortical brain. Brainspotting (BSP) was discovered in 2003 by David Grand, Ph.D. Over 13,001 therapists have been trained in BSP (52 internationally), in the United States, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and Africa. Dr. Grand discovered that "Where you look affects how you feel." It is the brain activity, especially in the subcortical brain that organizes itself around that eye position.
Brainspotting is a “body to body” approach. The distress is activated and located in the body which then leads to the locating of the Brainspot based on eye position. As opposed to EMDR where the traumatic memory is the “target”, in Brainspotting the Brainspot is the target or “focus or activation point”. Everything is aimed at activating, locating, and processing the Brainspot.
Brainspotting is most powerful and effective when done with the enhancement of BioLateral Sound CDs. Biolateral sound enhances the brain’s processing abilities by alternately stimulating each cerebral hemisphere. For highly dissociated or very fragile clients, Brainspotting can be initiated without any bilateral intensification, which can be added later as the client is more integrated and flexible. The healing sound directly enters the brain through the auditory nerves while the eardrums are vibrated bilaterally.
Any life event which causes significant physical and/or emotional injury and distress, in which the person powerfully experiences being overwhelmed, helpless, or trapped, can become a traumatic experience.
There is growing recognition within the healing professions that experiences of physical and/or emotional injury, acute and chronic pain, serious physical illness, dealing with difficult medical interventions, societal turmoil, environmental disaster, as well as many other problematic life events, will contribute to the development of a substantial reservoir of life trauma. That trauma is held in the body.
In most cases, the traumatized individual does not usually have the opportunity or the support to adequately process and integrate these traumatic life events. The traumatic experience then becomes a part of that individual’s trauma reservoir. The body and the psyche cannot remain unaffected by the physical, energetic and emotional costs extracted by this accumulated trauma load. The medical and psychological literature now acknowledges that approximately 75% of requests for medical care are linked to the actions or consequences of this accumulation of stress and/or trauma upon the systems of the human body.
Every health care professional encounters treatment situations in which physical symptoms cannot be separated from their emotional or psychological correlates. Traumatic life experiences, whether physical or emotional, are often significant contributing factors in the development and/or maintenance of most of the symptoms and problems encountered in health care.
Brainspotting provides a neurobiological tool for accessing, diagnosing, and treating a wide range of somatic and emotionally-based conditions. Call us to see if Brainspotting is the right treatment for you!
Check out what others have said who decided to take this brave step and address what was going on in their life below.
"I was skeptical of EMDR at first, but working through my trauma has changed my life. I was able to change career directions, feel more present and controlled, and really begin to enjoy relationship again."
- Female Survivor of Childhood Abuse