Posts Tagged ‘trauma’

Taking Control of Trauma: Understanding PTSD and EMDR.

For many individuals, traumas can have lasting and seemingly uncontrollable effects on our personal, social and working lives. The human mind usually processes and allows the effects of trauma to fade over time, for many of us the journey to recovery can last longer. One of the common and currently most talked about effects of these traumas is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.  PTSD is the re-experiencing of a traumatic event or events. PTSD is caused by life threatening events or the witnessing life-threatening events, sometimes called “big T’s”. With today’s research, we now also know that many more events- even if they are considered less traumatic- have the similar impact and are referred to as “little T’s”.

If you think about important events in your past, such as the first day on a job, or a first date, you can vaguely recall your excitement and feeling almost “beside yourself”. Yet now when you look back, you may smile at the memory of those experiences, but they do not overwhelm you as if you were there. They are fond memories, adding to the story of who you are.

Some traumas don’t process this way. They get stuck in the part of the brain that controls fight, flight or freeze instincts. Everyday reminders become triggers and continuously create the feelings of the original trauma.  These triggers can even escalate and become something to fear as well. It is not clear why traumas get stuck and cause PTSD and other symptoms, but what it is clear that methods such as EMDR can have a dramatic impact on clearing these stuck traumas and allow normal processing.  EMDR helps the brain process the memory and move on, just as they do with pleasant memories. They may be less than fond memories, but with the use of EMDR they lose their impact.

Here at South Denver Psychotherapy, we use EMDR for many of our patients to help with PTSD and other conditions. We love that we get to help our clients on their paths to healthier, happier and better lives.

EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy is a method to lessen the effects of trauma on a person. Traumas can be defined as big traumas, such as abuse, car accidents, and exposure to violence, anything that feels life threatening at the time. Small traumas are not necessarily life threatening but often life changing such as a break up, a devastating comment from a loved one, a betrayal, loss of job, etc.

When things happen to us, exciting things and traumatic things, we experience it in our whole body. We feel the emotions such as excitement and/or fear spontaneously. Over time, we mull the experiences in our minds and even if the memory is still vivid, we lose the full physical and emotional impact it had on us. Other events might remind us of the memory but we don’t feel like we are “there again”.

For some reason, traumatic events can “get stuff” in the part of the brain that feels like we are actually reliving the event. This is what happens in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For events that affect us this way, we didn’t finish the processing of the events so it becomes part of our narrative instead of reliving the experience over and over.

In a counseling office, in a place where trust and safety is established, EMDR therapy can be used to help the memory along, help make sense of it or accept it. It can be used to speed recovery.

For more information, call Pam Kennel at 303-730-1144.

For more detailed information about EMDR Therapy, visit