Counseling For Trauma

Trauma Therapy

Many people have dealt with trauma of some kind. Trauma can range from a car accident, witnessing a tragedy, house fire, military duty, sexual assault or physical assault, and other distressing life experiences.  After a traumatic event, people often deal with symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Those who are dealing with PTSD may re-live the event in their minds with dreams or flashbacks. These are often caused by a trigger, and those with PTSD may attempt to avoid situations that remind them of the traumatic event. People who have experienced traumatic events may feel numb much of the time, or they may feel very keyed up-on alert, looking for danger.

Have you heard of  the fight or flight reaction. In reality, we often freeze during traumatic events. This “freeze” mechanism means we have no opportunity to run off the adrenaline that gets released into the body. When animals experience stress, they run off that adrenaline, so they don’t have similar trauma responses. But we are not able to release that adrenaline. So, our brains process the traumatic event in a different way than a normal memory. The result often manifests in the symptoms of PTSD.

Studies have shown that animals’ brains do not store trauma in their brains, like humans do. They most typically run off the stress. Trauma Counseling helps redefine how our brains store the effects of the trauma. There are many techniques for trauma therapy, and different counselor draw on those techniques as needed.

Do I have PTSD?

There is a PTSD assessment HERE.  If you wonder if you are dealing with PTSD, you may find the inventory a helpful tool to use, and our counselors provide insight into your circumstances and make sure you are not alone.

EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing)

EMDR is one of the therapeutic way to help the brain reprocess the trauma in a way that allows the brain to heal. Though eye-movements were originally thought to be necessary for this kind of treatment, research now shows that many different forms of bi-lateral stimulation (tapping, tones from headphones, looking at two alternating lights, etc.) work to accomplish the EMDR.

The “tappers” we use are like miniature cell phones that vibrate in an alternating fashion at a variable tempo and duration. People can hold them in their hands or tuck them under their knees while we process through their situation.

What does the EMDR process look like?

The client and counselor work together to determine if the client is a good candidate for EMDR. If so, we set up a 2 hour session to do our first EMDR session. Because the material we cover during the EMDR session is often intense, it is best to not rush the process. The 2 hour session also leaves time for the client to get back to feeling peaceful before the session is finished.

Prior to EMDR, the counselor works with the client to visualize a safe place. It can be real or imagined, and the most important part is that they feel completely safe there. Our clients start and finish the EMDR session with that safe place in mind. The client can return to that safe space when things get intense during or after processing their memories.

Throughout the EMDR process  we will check your level of distress (SUDS). Checking in through the process of the EMDR helps the client be more aware of their present surroundings. This helps the brain recognize they are remembering the memory, but not actually there.

What are the results of EMDR ?

During the process of the EMDR, clients generally experience more insight and awareness into the memory of the event. When clients finish their EMDR work, they are more objective about the stressful event.  Clients have told me their bad dreams stopped, their intrusive thoughts seemed to stop coming to mind, and they felt so much better after dealing with the things that they’d struggled with so deeply. It is a powerful method of healing.

Here is a video about EMDR and how it works.

After a session of EMDR, clients should expect to be tired, and often I hear they feel emotionally drained. Clients often also state they are more aware of their senses in the 1-2 days following an EMDR session. Some people have a headache. We believe that the brain is rewiring during the process of EMDR, while your understanding of the event is changing, so this is not surprising.

EMDR for Christians:

This therapy method is not hypnosis, or a process of emptying your mind. We often pray before and/or after the session. When helpful, we ask our clients to picture Jesus there with them in the traumatic event.