EMDR’s Use in Non-Combat Trauma

EMDR’s Use in Non-Combat Trauma

Eye movement, desensitization and reprogramming (EMDR) can be an effective treatment of post-traumatic stress

Eye movement desensitization and reprogramming (EMDR) has been proven to be an effective treatment for individuals suffering from the effects of trauma in California. The process involves a specially trained therapist instructing the patient to think of certain things including the traumatic event and then moving his or her eyes in certain patterns. In some cases it may also involve tapping fingers or other physical activities. The desired result is a change the neurological functioning of the brain when the traumatic experience is remembered. This treatment has been used with combat veterans experiencing military-related trauma but is now being applied to many non-combat trauma victims as well.

Understanding Trauma and the Brain

The human brain controls the following functions through an intricate system of chemical signals and neurological responses:

  • Panic and anxiety control
  • Impulse control
  • Waking and sleeping
  • Appetite and eating
  • Memory formation and recall
  • Mood regulation

Traumatic experiences overwhelm the brain’s neurological functions in much the way a lightning strike can overwhelm the electrical system of a house. Certain things are too intense, fearful, disgusting or sad for the brain to handle all at once. In order to prevent some type of nervous breakdown, the brain shuts down certain emotional functions like the way a circuit breaker trips in order to prevent an electrical overload from destroying your home. This process also allows all conscious thought resources to be directed toward survival. If you are in the midst of a house fire, for instance, you will focus on what you need to do to survive. There will be time to contemplate the implications of the fire later. While this system is highly effective from a survival perspective, the challenge can be processing the trauma after the critical moment has passed. Unless you can go back and experience that trauma again, it can remain trapped in your subconscious mind. This can cause problems for you emotionally and even physiologically. While it has become increasingly common for people to understand the traumatic potential of military combat violence, the following non-combat experiences can also cause PTSD:

  • Being the victim of a violent crime
  • Surviving a natural disaster
  • The sudden loss of a friend or loved one
  • Loss of a job
  • Long-term exposure to bullying

EMDR can be a very effective treatment for any of these types of trauma.

Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The following are some of the most common symptoms of PTSD from non-combat trauma:

  • Nightmares
  • Sleep disorders
  • Flashbacks
  • Panic attacks
  • Reckless behavior
  • Substance abuse
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Frequent crying
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

It is extremely common for PTSD sufferers in California to self-medicate their emotional pain by abusing drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately this often serves only to exacerbate the person’s problems and add to his pain. In order to truly recover from PTSD, the individual must process those pent-up emotions.

How EMDR Helps Trauma Victims

EMDR was first developed by therapist Francine Shapiro when she noticed that distressing memories caused her eyes to move rapidly and involuntarily. She experimented with the symptom of eye movement and found that by moving her eyes voluntarily, during the recollection of disturbing memories, her anxiety and distress was greatly relieved. At first many in the psychological profession dismissed her theories about EMDR, but the practice is currently considered an excellent and effective first line of treatment for people suffering from a wide range of psychological dysfunction related to trauma.

PTSD is caused by distressing memories that become locked in isolated memory areas of the brain. Because the brain cannot properly process them, they cannot be moved into the correct long-term memory area. This causes the sufferer to feel emotions as if he or she is still in the midst of the trauma. EMDR aims to interrupt that process by carefully guiding the patient to recall the traumatic event and then introducing a bilateral corresponding stimulus such as intentional side-to-side eye movement or tapping the knees. This newly introduced stimulus creates new neural pathways that move the traumatic memory out of its locked up state and into the conscious part of the brain. The patient is then told to associate a positive memory or mental experience with the traumatic experience and then uses the extra stimulus to drive that new association into the nerve center of the brain. In many cases this activity allows the patient to become able to recall a traumatic memory and to feel appropriate emotions. It then allows the patient to move on from the trauma in California.

Many trauma sufferers have to work through multiple levels of painful memories before they reach the most fundamental cause of their distress. This can take multiple sessions with an EMDR therapist. In time, though, the patient can learn new and healthy ways to cope with the experienced trauma. EMDR can thus be a critical ingredient in the treatment of a wide range of traumas experienced by all kinds of people. It has even been successful in treating children.

24-Hour EMDR Helpline

If you or someone you love in California, is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, please call and speak to one of our staff members to see if EMDR might be right for you. We can connect you with the best programs and answer any questions you may have. Don’t suffer from PTSD any longer. We can help. Call now our 24 hour, toll-free helpline now.