What is Trauma?
Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives. Brain research has discovered that the brain stores a traumatic event in fragments and not in a cohesive manner.
Different types of Trauma defined
PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a type of anxiety problem that develops in some people after extremely traumatic events, such as combat, crime, an accident or natural disaster. People with PTSD may relive the event via intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares. They may avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma and have anxious feelings they didn’t have before the event. Feelings that are so intense their lives are disrupted.
Relational trauma This type of trauma happens within the context of an early life relationship. Examples of this include physcial or verbal child abuse or neglect, lack of safety, inconsistent caregiving, lack of mirroring or modeling. Often, clients who experience difficulties in their adult relationships have had these experiences and may develop an attachment difficulty.
Vicarious trauma Day to day events that we are all witness to that are hard to digest. Homelessness, being a witness to a terrible event, the death of a loved one, day to day hardships. Our brain processes these images, sounds and smells associated with these images, and stores the information. Sometimes, we can develop symptoms-depression and anxiety that may be associated with this type of day to day trauma.Both the left brain functions and right brain functions should be connected. Disconnection occurs when these 2 areas of the brain are not in communication with each other. EMDR helps these parts of the brain to reconnect.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitizating and Reprocessing. EMDR is a trauma “processing” modality first discoverd in the 1980’s by psychologist Francine Shapiro. Francine discovered that eye movements, not unlike those during REM sleep, help to process and store information in the brain. While there are several phases of EMDR, phase four uses bi lateral stimulation to reprocess the event or emotion. In my practice, I use sound and vibrations to administer the bi lateral stimulation. EMDR is considered an accelerated information processing modality (AIP). Accelerated information processing is the general theoretical model of which EMDR is a specific method. This term refers to an innate tendency of the brain to process disturbing life experiences to an adaptive resolution. The AIP model states that the brain’s information processing system can be blocked as a result of trauma on a psychological level and that specific methods, such as EMDR, can catalyze effective information processing at an accelerated rate leading to an adaptive resolution of the trauma.
EMDR for Eating Disorders in remission and Relapse Prevention/Fend off Addictive Behaviors
EMDR is now being used as a modality to “adjust” the feeling state associated with particular compulsions, cravings, routines, dependencies and fixations. Read more under Feeling State Protocol.
Robert Norgaard is a certified EMDR clinician, certified by emdria international.
EMDR links and resources