What is Trauma? Trauma is an experience that threatens the physical or emotional wellbeing or safety of a person. A trauma could be a severe emotional experience, like a car accident, an assault, or an unhealthy relationship. Trauma can either be something that happens to you, or something that you witness. Trauma can be a one-time incident, or a more complex, on-going experience. After experiencing a trauma, it’s normal to feel a little jumpy, or to be thinking about the experience non-stop. However, if you are experiencing on-going concerns, like nightmares, feelings that you are re-living the experience, or unhealthy thoughts like “it’s my fault,” this can be a sign of a more complicated issue. Therapy can help address those symptoms and help you to feel more in control of your thoughts and emotions.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is an acronym for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is a diagnosis given to individuals (children or adults) who meet a specific criteria of symptoms associated with trauma. Some symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks (feelings of re-experiencing the trauma), nightmares or difficulty sleeping, hypervigilance, anxiety, and avoidance of specific things that remind you of the trauma. Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD, but some symptoms may still be difficult to manage and could benefit from treatment. PTSD is a very treatable condition. There are many evidence-based treatment models that have been shown to improve trauma symptoms.
What is EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy) is a different approach from traditional talk-therapy. There is much research behind EMDR that shows it to be an effective, efficient trauma treatment model for both children and adults. It is also effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety, among other presenting issues. EMDR is endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. EMDR uses rapid eye movements to activate both the logical and emotional part of your mind while focusing on a disturbing memory. With the guidance of an EMDR-trained therapist, this will help you to reprocess distressing memories in a healthier way. Sometimes, people are curious about the eye movements used in EMDR. We call the eye movements “bilateral stimulation,” since we are trying to stimulate those different parts of your mind. Sometimes, we’ll use different types of bilateral stimulation, like tapping or audio tones, to get the same effect. You are totally awake and aware of what is going on in the session. EMDR can help make the disturbing memories less emotionally charged for you, and seeks to help you find new meaning in your experiences.
What is TF-CBT?
Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to treat trauma symptoms in children and adolescents. TF-CBT engages the child in learning about trauma and seeks to normalize their emotional experiences following the traumatic event. TF-CBT helps the child to gain new skills in coping with their emotions, as well as new ways of thinking about the traumatic experience. TF-CBT is highly family oriented--the caregiver is involved in every step of the process, learning new tools to work with their child’s emotional and behavioral concerns and how to best support the child throughout the therapy process. At the final stage of TF-CBT, the child will create a trauma narrative with the therapist. The purpose of the narrative is to expose the child to the story to desensitize them from the emotional charge that the story holds. In addition, the child has the opportunity to re-write the story, utilizing the new skills they have acquired in therapy, to help them reprocess the trauma in a healthy way.
What’s Right for Me?
The goal of any effective trauma treatment will be to reduce the emotional impact of the traumatic event, and help to reintegrate your story in a way that is meaningful for you. I would love the opportunity to talk with you about beginning your healing process.