As a society, we are all increasingly faced with incidents of trauma, whether through the media or as a first-hand experience. Trauma can result from the experience of a life-or-death situation, such as abuse (physical or sexual, whether in childhood or as an adult), medical trauma, an automobile accident, or being the victim of an assault or other violent crime. Often, simply the threat of one of these events can be undeniably traumatic. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) might be a relevant diagnosis in such cases.
Even if not necessarily life-or-death, other events can leave a serious traumatic impact on a person's emotions and functioning. Trauma may result from neglect, rejection from peers or family members, difficult relationships, or even embarassing moments. Perhaps affection and/or support were needed at a point in one's life, but the need went unmet. Such incidents certainly feel traumatic and leave their mark on a person's psychology. With EMDR, I specialize in helping resolve the memories, thoughts, and feelings that often accompany the above types of trauma.
Trauma can look different from person to person, but can include:
Trauma can also be more complex, in that it affects one's ability to relate to people and have satisfying relationships.
EMDR is a form of therapy that enables an individual to heal from the distressing thoughts, feelings and memories that result from disturbing life experiences. In many cases, EMDR therapy helps to bring about psychological change that may be resistent to more traditional psychotherapy. EMDR therapy assumes that just as the physical body can heal from a trauma if given appropriate care and support, our minds and psychological selves can similarly heal if given appropriate treatment and care. In essence, the principle is that we all have an innate drive toward healing, and EMDR is a process by which that healing is encouraged to proceed.
In other words, the theory behind EMDR is that a person's brain, and the information processing therein, 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, though, one no longer feels "stuck" and healing resumes.
As with any therapy, I will work with you to gain an understanding of your history and of the events that are causing you distress. After talking about your history and evaluating what's happening to cause you pain, which might take 1-4 sessions, we can then work together to help you manage emotional distress, often with a variety of imagery or stress reduction techniques. You can also use these techniques between sessions to help care for yourself.
If EMDR is determined to be appropriate for your case, therapy then focuses on the thoughts, feelings, and body sensations related to the traumatic incident(s). EMDR uses a variety of different techniques, including "bilateral stimulation," over the course of reprocessing the trauma. For more information, please see the EMDR International Association's
More often than not, I integrate EMDR with more traditional psychotherapy as appropriate. While not all people's circumstances are clearly a good fit for EMDR, our initial evaluation clarifies the nature of your difficulty, and determines whether traditional psychotherapy, EMDR, or both, might be most beneficial.
Copyright © 2022 Daniel J Potoczniak, PhD, ABPP - All Rights Reserved.