What is trauma?
Trauma is the impact of any experience that causes a breaking of our sense of self, others, and the world. Any experience that shatters our sense of worthiness, safety, and control can be considered traumatic.
For example, consider a person who has always lived in a safe environment, but one day out of the blue is subjected to a terrifying mugging incident. As a result she doesn’t feel safe to leave the house and can’t resume her daily living. The mugging incident is considered a traumatic event.
Or consider a child, who grows up in an abusive home, subjected to physical violence and verbal humiliation. The child interprets this as “I am unlovable”. A child is inherently lovable. When the child’s view of themselves shifts from innocence and wholeness to “I am unlovable”, this shift is considered a trauma.
What is the impact of trauma?
Not every event that is scary or unjust becomes automatically traumatic. In other words, it’s the impact of the event rather than the event itself that determines whether you have been traumatized or not.
Individuals who have significant traumas in their life history, are at higher risk for mental and physical health problems. This ranges from depression, anxiety, substance use issues to compromised immune systems, chronic pain, and gastrointestinal problems.
Trauma is not just psychological. It is also stored in the body as the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk so beautifully explains.
What is the treatment for trauma?
There are many types of evidence based trauma therapies available. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is one trauma therapy modality.
Francine Shapiro at Columbia University created this approach in the 1990s. She went on to publish hundreds of articles and a world renowned book and training program for mental health professionals by the same name.
Who can offer EMDR therapy?
Only mental health professionals who have undergone EMDRIA approved training are qualified to provide EMDR therapy. You can search for the keyword EMDR on Hoopfull.com to find local EMDR practitioners.
How does EMDR work?
EMDR therapy is a therapy journey. Like any good therapy, you would meet with the therapist and go over what you want to work on and what past traumas currently impact your life. Just like any other kind of therapy, the rapport and comfort with your therapist is very important. Then together with your therapist, you will create a treatment plan and a journey to process the traumas one experience at a time.
I have so much trauma in my past, where would I begin?
EMDR therapists work with what you can tolerate and will not want to overwhelm you. Many people worry that they may have too many incidents or too much to process. Don’t worry, your EMDR therapist will help you prioritize based on what is currently going on in your life, and based on what you want to gain from therapy.
For example, if you had a traumatic birth experience and you feel anxious as a new parent, your therapist will most likely prioritize helping you find some stable ground and calm to begin with. Once you feel stable enough, the therapist will work with you to reprocess the past event and trauma. They will work with you to clear the disturbances related to your birth experience.
There will be a relatively clear treatment plan and path which you can visit periodically. You won’t be working on all things at once. For example, if you are working on resolving a trauma related to a recent nearly fatal car accident, you may not necessarily start working on your childhood experience with bullying if it doesn’t feel relevant or impact you today.
Can I get EMDR online? The short answer is Yes! But to read more we have the perfect blog post for you!