Trauma occurs when three things happen: 1) a person experiences an unexpected event 2) the person was unprepared for the event and 3) there was nothing the person could do to prevent it from happening. Trauma is not measured by the event itself but rather how the person experienced the event. There are three responses to trauma – fight, flight or freeze. If a person cannot fight or fly, then the last ditch effort to protect oneself is to freeze. The freeze response causes the nervous system to develop trauma symptoms long after the danger has passed. When you become triggered your body sends a message to your brain that you are not safe and thus, your body keeps fighting the danger. Your heart rate increases, blood pressure rises and your body is flooded with stress hormones including cortisol and adrenaline. Living in this hyper-aroused state can be physically and emotionally exhausting.
Because trauma has so many physical effects, talk therapy doesn’t always cut it when working to make your mind and body feel safe again. With the help of science and brain scans, we now know that to fully treat the effects of trauma we have to reset physiology. When a traumatic experience occurs, usual cognitive responses are overwhelmed. Memories of the event are improperly stored and inadequately processed by the brain.
I employ a process called Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) to help clients process traumatic experience so that recovery can begin. EMDR is a proven technique that has won the approval of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Veteran’s Administration, and most insurance companies as an effective treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences. As a client recalls a traumatic event, gentle tapping or eye movements activate opposite sides of the brain allowing emotional experiences that are trapped in the nervous system to be released and exchanged for more peaceful, loving and resolved feelings. To learn more visit www.emdr.com.