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    Trauma & EMDR

    Trauma is ubiquitous in all of our clinical practices – from accidents and domestic violence to the aftereffects of early childhood abuse, instability and neglect (Developmental Trauma). Trauma changes people’s orientation to their self-worth and efficacy, their capacity to deal with conflict and intimacy, as well as emotion regulation and long-term planning. Trauma at different developmental levels changes brain circuitry differently, and thus: perception, self-regulation and reciprocity.

    Not everyone responds to trauma in exactly the same way, but here are some common signs:

    • Cognitive Changes: Intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks of the event, confusion, difficulty with memory and concentration, and mood swings
    • Altered Behavioral Patterns: Avoiding people and places that remind you of the experience, and withdrawing from family, friends, and activities you once enjoyed
    • Psychological Concerns: Anxiety and panic attacks, fear, anger, irritability, obsessions and compulsions, shock and disbelief, emotional numbing and detachment, depression, shame and guilt (especially if the person dealing with the trauma survived while others didn’t)
    • Physical Problems: Difficulty falling or staying asleep, becoming easily started, hypervigilance and edginess, rapid heartbeat, unexplained aches and pains, sexual dysfunction, altered eating patterns, muscle tension, and extreme exhaustion

    What is EMDR? (Taken from the EMDR Institute):

    “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories (Shapiro, 1989a, 1989b). Shapiro’s (2001) Adaptive Information Processing model posits that EMDR therapy facilitates the accessing and processing of traumatic memories and other adverse life experience to bring these to an adaptive resolution. After successful treatment with EMDR therapy, affective distress is relieved, negative beliefs are reformulated, and physiological arousal is reduced. During EMDR therapy the client attends to emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Therapist directed lateral eye movements are the most commonly used external stimulus but a variety of other stimuli including hand-tapping and audio stimulation are often used (Shapiro, 1991). Shapiro (1995, 2001) hypothesizes that EMDR therapy facilitates the accessing of the traumatic memory network, so that information processing is enhanced, with new associations forged between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories or information. These new associations are thought to result in complete information processing, new learning, elimination of emotional distress, and development of cognitive insights. EMDR therapy uses a three pronged protocol: (1) the past events that have laid the groundwork for dysfunction are processed, forging new associative links with adaptive information; (2) the current circumstances that elicit distress are targeted, and internal and external triggers are desensitized; (3) imaginal templates of future events are incorporated, to assist the client in acquiring the skills needed for adaptive functioning.”

    https://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/