Trauma memories are not stored in the brain like regular memories – the part of the brain that combines the various elements of a memory – the sights, sounds, sensations, emotions, and physical responses – goes “offline” during overwhelming adverse experiences. As a result, the body and brain do not know that the trauma is over. Instead of being over, elements of the raw, unprocessed memory persist like time capsules and may intrude into everyday life as flashbacks, cause panic, hopelessness, emerge as intense negative thoughts or feelings about self, sometimes disrupting sleep, or impacting relationships. Some survivors may find themselves attempting to avoid any internal or external reminders or “triggers” of the trauma to attempt to avoid the intense fight/flight/freeze responses that follow.
With the support of a trained clinician, survivors of trauma can learn how to regain a physical and emotional sense of peace and safety after experiencing a reminder of the trauma. Once one has learned skills to regulate one’s body, trauma can be processed in a therapeutic way with a treatment called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). This treatment process allows that important part of the brain to stay “online” as the memory is processed in an adaptive way, so your brain and body can finally experientially know that the traumatic experience is truly over. One thing clients often appreciate about EMDR, is that one does not need to talk in detail about what happened in order to achieve relief from posttraumatic symptoms. Call now to schedule an appointment with a therapist trained in EMDR.
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Research support for EMDR: