Trauma is a weighted word. Some people feel that what they have experienced in life doesn’t compare to terrible things others have gone through and therefore minimize their own experiences. Trauma is lot of things, from experiences that threaten safety, bodily injury and life, all the way to small micro traumas which accumulate. A simple way to understand the mechanism of trauma is that the rug was pulled out from under what you believe to be true about yourself, others and the world.
Whatever the level of traumatic event, the associated sights, sounds, thoughts, feelings and body sensations remain unprocessed in the brain. An event that happened then is still perceived as now in the brain because it wasn’t put away into long-term memory. These leftovers are in the brain as live, active events. We unconsciously experience the unprocessed disturbances of the past, in the present. The frozen trauma pieces shape the filters we see the world through and fuel our reactions.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic tool which helps people heal from the symptoms and emotional distress resulting from disturbing life experiences. This includes “Big T” traumas - which are any situation where one’s life or safety is threatened, and “Little T” traumas - which are more minor, but still disturbing events.
Trauma counseling using EMDR helps the brain heal from psychological trauma like the body does from physical trauma. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health, but when there is a block or imbalance, the emotional wound can’t heal. EMDR activates the brain’s natural healing processes and creates a movement toward change.
EMDR therapy helps merge the leftover remnants of trauma: the associated sights, sounds, emotions and physical sensations and move them into long-term memory. The event(s) happened then and are now perceived as then in the brain. When this happens, it desensitizes the negative influence of the trauma in the present.
Counseling with EMDR also helps resolve negative beliefs. Unconscious beliefs that drive dysfunction like, “I am not safe,” “People can’t be trusted,” “I am a bad person,” etc., are reprocessed into healthy beliefs.