Are You Stuck in the past and can't get through it?
Do you have intrusive thoughts? Do you find yourself thinking about something that happened a long time ago and struggle to let it go? Have images about a particular incident started to creep back into your mind when you least expect it? Do you remember the incident as if it happened just yesterday? Do certain smells or sounds bring you back to a negative experience and cause you to relive it? If any of the above resonate with you, you could benefit from EMDR.
Trauma symptoms can show up in many different ways.
In adults, reliving trauma may manifest in the following ways:
- Reliving unwanted memories at the least expected times (flashbacks)
- Having nightmares or night terrors
- Being unable to calm yourself down when you remember the trauma
- Having difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Feeling excessively angry or nervous at random times
- Having an exaggerated startle response
Trauma can also manifest as follows:
- Feeling numb, dissociated
- Feeling sad and “removed”
- Struggling to make or maintain healthy friendships or romantic relationships
- Using substances, such as alcohol or marijuana to avoid feelings related to the trauma
- Reacting harshly to sudden noises or unwanted touch
- Self-harming or having suicidal thoughts
In children, witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event can lead to:
- Nightmares about the event
- Engaging in symbolic play that reenacts the experience
- Sleep disturbances
- Irritability and anger
- Detachment and emotional numbing
- Excessive fear of separating from a trusted figure
Sometimes, unprocessed trauma can take over and make us feel as if we’re losing our minds. But, it doesn’t have to be this way any longer.
Dealing with resurfacing and intrusive thoughts can be confusing and lonely, but there is a potential solution. Dr. Nadine O’Reilly, through the evidence-based treatment called EMDR, can bring unprocessed trauma to the forefront and help you release it for good. You can move on from this, and in many cases it only takes a few sessions to start noticing the difference.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
It’s estimated that 7 or 8 people out of 100 will experience some form of trauma in their lifetime. This may be by bearing witness to violence, a natural disaster, or a traumatic event such as 9/11. The trauma may also be physical, such as being bitten by a dog or being involved in an ongoing physically or sexually abusive relationship. A single, isolated incident can bring on symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
EMDR is a form of therapy that empowers people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that result from experiencing trauma. Whereas it used to take a long time to process and heal from trauma, in some cases, just a few sessions of EMDR can result in freedom from psychological disturbances.
EMDR has shown that the brain can heal itself much like the body does. For example, imagine a splinter in your finger. Your body will work to close the wound. However, if the splinter is not removed, any trigger will irritate the wound and it will continue to cause you pain. Once the splinter is removed, the body can successfully close the wound and the pain will go away.
With EMDR, something similar occurs in the brain. With prompting, the brain will naturally move towards mental health. The disturbing event, or trauma, is the splinter in this case. It blocks healing. So, the emotional trauma continues to cause distress and intense suffering. Once the traumatic block is removed, healing occurs. By engaging in the process of EMDR, I will help you activate your natural healing process.
Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use EMDR therapy. Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years.
Trauma treatment with EMDR can help you start to gain back the control you’ve lost along the way. As an EMDRIA-certified therapist, Dr. Nadine O’Reilly will help you process the traumatic experience that is holding you back from living fully and in the moment, and help you move from the past into the present with confidence.
trauma treatment with EMDR Can Give You New Perspective And Hope
What Does Treatment Look Like?
EMDR therapy involves attention to three time periods: the past, present, and future. Focus is given to past disturbing memories and related events. Also, it is given to current situations that cause distress, and to developing the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions.
EMDR can be done by tracking hand movements with your eyes or with bilateral stimulation in the form of tapping (you are doing the tapping and I am guiding you with my voice). The method we use will depend entirely on what you are comfortable with. While eye tracking is the gold standard among EMDR practitioners, we recognize that what works for some may not work for all. When we meet, we will discuss the different forms EMDR therapy may take and you will decide which form suits you best.
With EMDR therapy, we address trauma using an eight-phase treatment approach.
Phase 1: History-taking. We discuss how EMDR works and develop a treatment plan. We must be sure that you are ready to start this type of therapy before we dive in. I will ask you to identify a target memory, which can include distressing memories and current situations that cause emotional distress. Other targets may include related incidents in the past. I will help you come up with a “calm place” and a “container” for negative emotions. These are some of the skills you will need for treatment to continue according to protocol.
Phase 2: Preparation. During the second phase of treatment, I will help to reinforce the several different ways of handling emotional distress that we discussed during Phase 1. You’ll learn a variety of imagery and stress reduction techniques that you can use during our sessions and in between. A goal of EMDR therapy is to produce rapid and effective change while the client maintains equilibrium during and between sessions.
Phases 3-6: Assessment, Desensitization, Installation, and Body Scan. Here is where we really nail down the target memory to be processed using EMDR therapy procedures. You’ll be asked to identify three things:
1. The vivid visual image related to the memory
2. A negative belief about self
3. Related emotions and body sensations.
You will also be prompted to identify a positive belief. So, if the negative belief is “I am helpless,” the positive belief may be “I am strong.” We will rate the intensity of the positive belief as well as the intensity of the negative cognition (thought). After establishing this baseline, I’ll ask you to focus on the image, negative thought, and body sensations while simultaneously engaging in EMDR processing using sets of bilateral stimulation. These sets may include eye movements, taps, or tones and will depend on which modality you identified as being the one you prefer in Phase 1. The type and length of these sets is different for each client. At this point, the EMDR client is instructed to just notice whatever spontaneously happens.
After each set of eye movements or taps, I will ask you to let your mind go blank and to “just notice.” You’ll simply notice whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind. These repeated sets with directed focused attention occur numerous times throughout the session. If at any time you become distressed or have difficulty moving forward, I’ll follow protocol to help you get back on track.
Once you notice that there is no more distress related to the target memory, we begin “installation.” Installation refers to the process where we mentally replace the negative thought with the preferred positive belief that was identified at the beginning of the session. At this time, the client may adjust the positive belief if necessary, and then focus on it during the next set of distressing events.
Phase 7: Closure. In between sessions, you will keep a log of any related thoughts or sensations that come up for you. This serves to remind you of the self-calming activities that you mastered in Phase 2.
Phase 8: Reevaluation. Examining the progress made thus far. The EMDR treatment processes all related historical events, current incidents that elicit distress, and future events that will require different responses.
Some common questions and concerns about emdr for trauma.
I don’t understand how this can work.
Sometimes, engaging in therapy can be a leap of faith. EMDR can be especially confusing. You might be asking, “How can tracking someone’s hand movements or tapping myself on the shoulders while thinking about the trauma help me get over my fears?” While it’s difficult to explain, the proof is in EMDR’s success rate.
More than thirty positive controlled outcome studies have been conducted on EMDR therapy. Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions. All you have to do is give it a try to see for yourself how EMDR can help.
I’m not sure I have PTSD. Will EMDR therapy help anyway?
Trauma takes many forms. And while you may or may not meet the clinical threshold for true PTSD, you can still suffer from flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and loss of quality of life without meeting the diagnosis for PTSD.
EMDR helps you to take the reliving the traumatic experience to viewing it as if it were part of the landscape. After EMDR, you’ll be a spectator to the trauma rather than a participator in its effects. It will no longer affect you in negative ways.
I don’t want to be in therapy for the rest of my life.
EMDR can work in as little as one session. However, that will greatly depend on the extent of the trauma and how quickly we can progress from Phase 1 to Phase 8. Also, additional traumas have been known to surface while working on a target memory, and these will require additional sessions to process individually.
There’s No Better Time Than Now.
Please, take the first step towards overcoming trauma. Click below to schedule your free, 20-minute consultation and see how EMDR can help.