If you are a big Grey’s fan, you probably saw the episode last year where Jo works with a therapist on her long history of trauma. If you don’t have experience with EMDR therapy, it may not have really registered for you. Some people I ask about the episode don’t really remember much of it. But, I can tell you that those of us therapists that use EMDR therapy with our clients were amazed. Not just amazed that therapy’s being portrayed on a popular TV show, but that it’s done so well. It is very clear that the show did excellent research and consultation to make sure that the therapeutic process was accurately represented.
What is EMDR?
A few years ago, I attended a training on a model that was new to me as a therapist: EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). I had heard great things about this form of therapy from some of the trauma specialists that I respect and knew many other therapists that found it to be helpful with their clients. I was hopeful, but still cautious about how this might work in my therapy practice in Orange County, CA.
EMDR therapy is very structured. It is also different than any therapy I had ever done before. I am a therapist that works to be very present with the person in the room with me. I rarely take notes in sessions and want my clients to feel that they have all of my attention. However, EMDR therapy requires reading very specific scripts, taking notes, and significantly less talking. Although this shift was a bit strange for me in the beginning, I can tell you that almost all of my clients find the process to be incredibly healing.
When we have unprocessed trauma, it can get stuck in our body with all the sights, smells, sounds, and sensations that were present at the time of the event. It’s difficult to tell the story of what happened if that trauma is still unprocessed. And when you do, you may feel flooded with painful sensations. This happens because your brain doesn’t recognize that the event occurred in the past. Your brain still believes you are in danger.
Who is Impacted by Trauma?
Most of us will experience some sort of trauma in our lifetime. For some of us, it will be a break-up, car accident, loss of a loved one, racial injustice, or a natural disaster. Many people can recover from trauma symptoms over time. However, others may be affected by it for a long time. We are still learning about the brain and why this occurs. Two people can experience the exact same traumatic event and have two completely different responses. When you continue to experience trauma symptoms far after an event has occurred, it can leave you feeling confused, afraid, anxious, or depressed.
Psychotherapy has been proven to be the most effective form of treatment for trauma. EMDR therapy for trauma is one of the most common modalities used in treating it. In fact, it is the most highly researched method of treating trauma symptoms. It is a very specific type of therapy that can help you to heal from the anxiety, stress, and problems caused by a troubling life experience.
Trauma and The Brain
The brain has a built in system that processes events and helps to keep us balanced. I like to say that it puts all of our experiences in the right “file” so that the brain knows that these events happened in the past and are memories. Sometimes when something traumatic happens, if there is a “glitch” in the system, it can become blocked, or imbalanced and the brain will not process the event correctly. The brain is not able to put the event in the appropriate memory “file” and this can lead to intense suffering. EMDR helps to “kick start” the system to process the memory and move towards healing.
The Impact of Trauma
While everyone reacts to trauma differently, here are some common trauma symptoms:
- Avoiding “trauma triggers” such as specific locations, sights, situations, and sounds that are reminders of the event
- Anxiety, depression, or numbness
- Guilt, low self-esteem, or a sense of worthlessness
- Problems with relationships
- Troubling thoughts, nightmares, or flashbacks
- Anger, irritability, or constantly feeling on edge
- Aggressive, reckless behavior, including self-harm
- Problems with sleep
- Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
- Difficulty remembering details about the trauma
What can EMDR Therapy Help With?
Many clients find that EMDR therapy is incredibly helpful in getting their life back. An EMDR trained therapist can help you learn to better manage your emotions. This means reduce your reaction triggers, let go of negative beliefs about yourself and the world, and create a more healthy relationship with your body.
EMDR therapy can be helpful for many issues including:
- Panic Attacks
- Stress Management
- Disturbing Memories
- Pain Disorders
- Performance and Test Anxiety
- Complicated Grief
- Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse, and Neglect
- Sexual Assault
- Trauma due to racial injustice
- Body Dysmorphic Disorders
None of the above issues seem to fit for you?
Everyone experiences the aftermath of trauma differently. Maybe you experience strong or overwhelming emotions that seem to be out of proportion to the situation. Perhaps, you have a tendency to react strongly to certain triggers. Possibly, you have one or more thoughts or beliefs that you have about yourself and others that on an intellectual level you know are not true. If so, EMDR therapy may still be helpful for you.
Begin EMDR Therapy in Orange County
You don’t have to live any longer with the overwhelming effects of trauma or hurtful early experiences. EMDR therapy can help you to be less reactive to triggers, decrease your anxiety responses, reconnect with your loved ones, and feel safer in your own skin. Follow these 3 easy steps to begin your process of healing:
- Click here to schedule a free consultation
- Meet with one of our caring and qualified therapists
- Begin therapy from the comfort of your own home
Check out this interview with Grey’s Anatomy writer and producer Elisabeth Finch about the show’s episode featuring EMDR therapy:
Other Mental Health Services Offered at Moxie Family Therapy
Life is complex and therefore a person’s mental health needs are often complex as well. At Moxie Family Therapy, we offer psychotherapy for women, teens, girls, and families with many different mental health needs. Therefore, EMDR therapy isn’t the only service that we offer in our Orange County Counseling Clinic or via Online Counseling. Other mental health services Moxie Family Therapy provides include treatment for loneliness, therapy for teens, counseling for young adults, counseling for college students, couples counseling, counseling for women, counseling for children, play therapy, art therapy, and family therapy. While most of our clients are local to Orange County, our online services allow us to help anyone in the state of California. The road you’ve been on is difficult, but we believe you deserve healing. Call to start therapy, and together with your therapist, you’ll start a new journey toward healing.