If you scan Psychology Today or search Google for therapists in your area, you are likely to see many are certified in something called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or “EMDR.” One might wonder what does that actually mean?
WHAT IS EMDR?
According to the EMDRIA, negative emotions, feelings and behaviors are generally caused by unresolved earlier experiences that are pushing you in the wrong directions.The goals of EMDR therapy is to leave you with the emotions, understanding, and perspectives that will lead to healthy and useful behaviors and interactions. As well as to process completely the experiences that are causing problems, and to include new ones that are needed for full health. Inappropriate emotions, beliefs, and body sensations will be discarded.
Literally speaking, EMDR accesses your eye movements to aid in processing negative events or memories. In session, this feels different than typical “talk therapy.” Instead, EMDR focuses on a patient’s own rapid, rhythmic eye movements to dampen the power of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events.
WHAT IS TRAUMA?
When using EMDR, therapists often use “trauma” language. We often like to differentiate between “Big T” and “Little T” trauma. The DSM-5 defines PTSD trauma as, “any situation where one’s life or bodily integrity is threatened” – these are typically Big T traumas. Typically, Little T trauma does not lead to the development of pure PTSD symptoms, although it is possible for a person to develop certain trauma response symptoms. In other words, Little T trauma can cause a person to experience increased distress and decreased quality of life.
Whether you identify as experiencing Big T or Little T traumas, both can make you a potential candidate for EMDR treatment. It is important to note that this is a generic list used to simply divide the two trauma “types” for purposes of this article. Each of these traumas can be Big T or Little T traumas depending on the circumstances, how the experience is perceived, and its impact on the person experiencing them.
Examples of Little T trauma:
- Conflict with significant others or children
- Conflict with supervisor/boss or colleagues
- Abrupt or extended relocation/move
- Losing a new job
- Having or adopting a child
- Legal trouble
- Financial worries or difficulty
Examples of Big T Trauma:
- Natural disaster
- Domestic violence
- Severe illness or injury
- Death of a loved one
- Sexual assault
- Combat/war zone
- Car accident
- Witnessing an act of violence
EFFECTS OF TRAUMA:
Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA)as the emotional response someone has to an extremely negative event. While trauma is a normal reaction to a horrible event, the effects can be so severe that they interfere with an individual’s ability to live a normal life. In a case such as this, help may be needed to treat the stress and dysfunction caused by the traumatic event and to restore the individual to a state of emotional well-being.
Emotion is one of the most common ways in which trauma manifests. Some common emotional symptoms of trauma include denial, anger, sadness and emotional outbursts. Victims of trauma may redirect the overwhelming emotions they experience toward other sources, such as friends or family members. This is one of the reasons why trauma is difficult for loved ones as well.
Some common physical signs of trauma include lethargy, fatigue, poor concentration and a racing heartbeat. The victim may have anxiety or panic attacks and be unable to cope in certain circumstances. The physical symptoms of trauma can be as real and alarming as those of physical injury or illness, and care should be taken to manage stress levels after a traumatic event.
Symptoms pulled from psychguides.com.
WHAT DOES EMDR TREAT
In terms of diagnosis, EMDR has been known to treat:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Panic attacks
- Disturbing memories
- Pain disorders
- Performance anxiety
- Stress reduction
- Sexual and/or Physical abuse
- Body dysmorphic disorders
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
Although EMDR may produce results more rapidly than previous forms of therapy, but it is important to remember that every client has different needs.
This article is just a jumping off point in terms of EMDR. Curious about EMDR and how it may be in session? For more information one EMDR visit EMDRIA’s website. Curious about trauma and it’s possible effects? Click Here
Think you might want to try EMDR? We have therapists trained here in EMDR, as well as other trauma effective treatment modalities, give us a call 502-414-1301!