Trauma, EMDR and Sensorimotor Therapy
Some traumatic experiences are readily recognised as such: a road traffic or train crash, an assault in the street, an accident at work or on holiday, war-time incidents. These tend to be one-off incidents and can leave the victims suffering from nightmares, flashbacks, increased anger or tearfulness, sleeplessness, restlessness and more. It may be hard or even impossible to concentrate at work; social events or even family events may be avoided.
On the other hand, you may be aware of experiencing some of these debilitating symptoms but not know why. This could be because distressing events happened many years ago that you cannot recall. Or, perhaps events occurred which you have always thought were insignificant and without consequence. Sometimes, a person has dealt with a single event but then an unexpected reminder triggers all the original uncomfortable feelings around it again. Occasionally, someone is traumatised by coming into contact with another person’s traumatic experience.
A traumatic event may involve the threat of death to yourself or to someone else. Or, it may involve a threat to your own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming your ability to cope. If you are suffering from several of the following symptoms, it could be worth taking a fresh look at events and people in your life and re-considering whether they may still be affecting you now. Be aware that an event may be perceived differently through the eyes of a child than an adult; adults can sometimes minimise the significance and impact of events that they experienced as frightening or threatening when a child.
- trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep
- feeling irritable or angry more than usual
- being easily startled
- avoiding certain places or people
- difficulty concentrating
- avoiding thinking about certain events or people
- feeling numb
- flashbacks while awake
- being watchful, on guard
- reminders of an event cause you to have a pounding heart, to sweat or to have difficulty breathing
Occasionally, when someone has lived through repeated traumatic incidents, especially as a child, they may come to feel somehow distanced or disconnected from aspects of their own experience(s) and/or from the world around them. This is known as "dissociation"; it is one of the ways in which our bodies protect us from the emotional, psychological or physical pain of overwhelming experiences. It can be very disorienting and distressing, or it may have become such an ingrained part of some people's characters that it is the norm and they may not notice until an unexpected event brings it to their attention.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
EMDR is a powerful therapeutic process that was developed in the 1980s for working with people suffering as a result of a traumatic event(s). Since then EMDR has been approved for use within the NHS where it has proved its effectiveness. The therapy involves helping you to access memories of trauma in a safe and carefully managed way, then processing these memories to achieve a resolution of the trauma and a reduction or elimination of distressing symptoms. Memories can be mental images of a traumatic event and also physical sensations and emotions that stem from the event. The processing typically entails moving your eyes from left to right under the guidance of the therapist, a movement that occurs naturally during dream sleep. As an alternative to eye movements, tapping, vibration or gentle auditory stimulation can be used. EMDR can help alleviate the disturbing symptoms often associated with road traffic accidents and workplace accidents, childhood physical and/or sexual abuse or neglect, natural disaster, physical and/or sexual assault, surgical trauma and traumatic war related experiences. It is also increasingly used to help individuals with a range of other more common concerns, such as low self esteem, phobias and panic attacks, and with performance anxiety. For more information please contact me or visit: www.emdrassociation.org.uk, or www.emdria.org.
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a body-oriented therapy that integrates simple body-centred observations and movements with traditional talking therapies. It has a strong focus on the present while also acknowledging what impact the past may continue to have. Clients who have experience of trauma or who continue to be challenged by difficulties stemming from their childhood often find this way of working helpful and empowering. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy in practice is based on the principles of mindfulness and seeks to pay attention to the whole person (mind, body, emotion and spirit), while its theoretical underpinnings include recent research into the workings of the brain and nervous system. For more information please contact me or visit: www.sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org.
Lifespan Integration (often referred to simply as LI) is a new therapeutic practice which promotes healing in adults and young people who have experienced neglect or abuse during childhood. It has proved effective with many different issues, such as post traumatic stress, anxiety, and eating disorders. Lifespan Integration relies on the ability of your body-mind system to heal itself, addressing your life in present time and over the course of time, not just focussing on a single experience. It is a gentle therapy, making use of the felt sensations in the body, memory over your lifespan, and processes of visualising in order to achieve resolution of your original concerns. For more information, please contact me or visit: www.lifespanintegration.co.uk, or www.lifespanintegration.com.
CRM (Comprehensive Resource Model)
CRM uses our own internal resources, breathwork, and other somatic resources to anchor ourselves firmly in the present while accessing and processing traumatic memories. For more information please contact me or visit: www.comprehensiveresourcemodel.com.
Please contact me if you want to explore whether your present day experiences may be related to earlier traumatic events. Alternatively, for more information visit: www.estd.org or www.trauma-pages.com.