Most people have dealt with challenging situations. Sometimes this continues to affect them later resulting in them feeling unsafe, angry, like withdrawing from relationships and themselves, or becoming frozen in their lives and their bodies. I use mindfulness trauma therapy and the resources of your body to help you complete these experiences in a way that they can settle and to discover new and more creative resources with which to move forward in your life more effectively.
Treatment for psychological and emotional trauma
In order to heal from psychological and emotional trauma, it may be necessary to re-experience and work through the challenging feelings and memories you’ve tried to keep at a distance. Unless it is worked through, trauma has a habit of reentering your world again and again, leaving you with that same uncontrollable experience. When people come to see me, they often think, at an emotional level, that the trauma symptoms are evidence that there is something defective about them. My belief is that symptoms are actually a sign your body is working because it’s letting you know that something needs to be attended to. I believe that without these symptoms, people would be less likely to know that something was wrong and consequently be less likely to reach out to get the support they need.
Trauma therapy and healing involves:
- Processing trauma-related memories and feelings
- Releasing bottled “fight, flight, freeze” energy
- Learning to regulate strong emotions
- Learning or relearning how to trust others, and/or yourself
In addition to a variety of practices I use in my every day sessions with clients, I primarily use two particular approaches, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and EMDR Therapy, when working with traumatic-stress disorders in individual psychotherapy:
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is body-based talk therapy. It integrates the latest neuroscience findings to transform traumatic memories into strengths and resources for the client. Current research indicates that when a disturbing experience occurs it disrupts the communication and the integration of the two sides of the brain. This causes the individual to relive the experience over and over again because of unfinished processing that is no longer able to complete. Joined by a skilled therapist who you feel safe with, you can learn to track how your body’s emotions, thoughts, and impulses live inside your nervous system. This leads to re-wiring between the two hemispheres of the brain. This rewiring is essential to the healing of deeply ingrained experiential patterns.
You start this healing process to learn how to soothe, center and calm yourself. As you continue to do this work, a deep, inner knowing develops within you, and your relationship with yourself and others improves. Eventually, it becomes possible for your true self to emerge, so that you may live your life more fully in present moment.
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy has been proven to be helpful in treating a number of different issues including traumatic stress, attachment issues, Developmental problems, and addictions.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation. These back-and-forth eye movements are thought to work by “unfreezing” traumatic memories, allowing you to resolve them.
In a typical EMDR session, a disturbing image, body sensations and emotions are identified, along with the current belief held about that event. Then bilateral stimulation of the brain is used (this is achieved by holding vibrating paddles, listening to sound with ear phones, or watching a light or object move back and forth) while you focus on the disturbing experience. Each person will process whatever comes up in their own unique way depending on their values and personal experiences. Processing continues until the impact of the disturbing event lessens and is associated with a positive thought about one’s self; “It wasn’t my fault”, or “I’m safe now”. Often, in an EMDR session intense emotions may arise, but at the end of a session most people experience a substantial reduction in the level of disturbance. Millions of people have used EMDR. Scientific studies have demonstrated that EMDR is an effective treatment for posttraumatic stress. This powerful method can also help relieve a variety of psychological stress problems including; panic attacks, phobias, anxiety disorders, attachment issues, post-traumatic stress, sexual or physical abuse and complicated grief.