For many people, their early years didn't go as they would have liked. For example, they might have had caregivers who neglected meeting their needs or as they grew up, they received messages from relationships that they were somehow defective or wrong.
Experiencing physical and/or emotional wounds in your in your formative years poses 2 challenges: it will impact your ability to form healthy attachments to other people and it will likely leave you without ways to cope with feeling as if the world is unsafe.
Addiction can be a way of regulating difficult emotions that can arise from trauma and mental health.
As helpful as it is to engage in talk therapy, when it comes to trauma, the more you talk doesn't make it better.
Trauma is remembered both in memory as well as the body. Difficult memories need to be integrated instead of existing in compartments that get opened and make someone feel as if they are under immediate threat all over again.
There are many modalities of treating trauma. I use EMDR as a modality to help resolve trauma.
WHAT IS EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic approach that helps to
treat troubling issues including:
- Panic Attacks
EMDR is an empirically validated treatment for PTSD and adverse life events
For more information on the efficacy of EMDR, visit http://www.emdr.com/efficacy/
HOW DOES IT WORK?
This is not a form of talk therapy. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation (e.g. eye movements or tapping) to help your brain heal from troubling or traumatic experiences including accidents, addiction, anxiety and abuse.
Think of your brain as a filing cabinet that holds all memories relating to your life experiences. Memories that are positive or not so eventful are stored neatly in their own file folder. However when you experience things that you don't feel you have the ability to deal with (e.g. loss, threat, abuse), the memory is not properly stored. What makes this problematic is that you can be easily triggered in your day to day life so that you feel like you are experiencing the distressing situation over again.
EMDR helps your brain process the memory so that it can be filed properly. This means that you'll feel less troubled by the same thing that previously caused so much distress.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A SESSION?
As in any therapy, an EMDR session will vary for everyone because the healing process is guided from within each person.
Some people recall memories or report experiencing emotional and/or physical activation while recalling painful memories. This is normal in EMDR processing. It generally passes within a few minutes.
Over time, clients most often experience that the upsetting emotion or memory seems to “lose its charge” and fade into the past.
HOW ARE SESSIONS ORGANIZED?
There are 8 phases of treatment. Generally, therapy will start with taking a client’s history, building safety/stabilization, processing the disturbing thoughts and memories as well as helping to prepare for future situations that may be triggering.
WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN SESSIONS?
You might find that you process information between sessions. This might include having vivid dreams, new insights or strong feelings. If any of these arise, it is important to contact the therapist to report your symptoms.
WHAT’S THE VALUE IN BRINGING UP PAINFUL MEMORIES?
It seems counter-intuitive to do things that bring pain. However when you avoid dealing with painful memories, (e.g. a trauma or loss) they can maintain a power over you. Without having adequate coping strategies, you will likely experience self-defeating ways of thinking and behaving such as addictive behaviour.
EMDR therapy provides an opportunity to face memories and difficult emotions in a safe place and it also helps you develop more effective coping strategies in your life.
WILL I BE IN CONTROL?
You (the client) is always in charge in a session. It is imperative that you maintain communication with the therapist throughout the session.
HOW LONG DOES EMDR THERAPY TAKE?
As with many forms of therapy, the length of time depends on the individual and the type of problem being worked on. Your life experiences as well as your ability to tolerate difficult emotion will effect the duration of therapy.
WHAT'S THE EVIDENCE THAT EMDR WORKS?
EMDR has been found to be effective in controlled studies to reduce PTSD related symptoms and lessen feelings of anxiety. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) designates EMDR as an effective way to treat PTSD.