Posttraumatic stress disorder
This morning as I sit working on preparations to teach yet another EMDR Training in Denver next month, I am feeling gratitude for the opportunity to share this invaluable technique with other clinicians. What motivates me is my wish for those new EMDR clinicians to help many more people than I could ever help alone.
As clinicians, we recognize that the way one copes with trauma and challenges in life is largely the result of the foundation and resources they develop early in life. How we, as clinicians, help them to synthesize these experiences with adaptive resources is the solution. EMDR is built on the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD. When EMDR is done with the proper protocol and case conceptualization, it can serve to resolve both current and early trauma, improve internal and external resources and ultimately provide the necessary synthesis to resolve the trauma.
Clinically, I see this fundamental understanding of trauma and development play out in every area of my Denver counseling practice. It applies with clients suffering from trauma due to domestic violence, sexual abuse, military combat, loss due to death or divorce, and major life changes and transitions. When I am working with someone involved in divorce, I generally find that the difference between one that is high-conflict and one that is not lies in the trauma history of one or both parties involved. When working with a client who is traumatized by a tragic event, natural disaster or health crisis, the same principles apply. A history of earlier unresolved trauma creates maladaptive memory networks, compromising one’s ability to cope with current crises.
EMDR’s value is tremendous. It is a comprehensive therapy and, for me, it is the lens through which treatment is conceptualized. It provides resolution of the presenting problem, but more importantly, it provides resolution of past traumas that have led to maladaptive behaviors, cognitions and feelings. By impacting change in past memory networks, the ability to manage present and future obstacles and challenges improves dramatically. As a clinician, it is invaluable. I continue to be amazed and privileged to witness the way it impacts my clients’ lives, their beliefs about themselves and the world around them, and their overall therapeutic experience. That all said, I am grateful and excited to embark on another training to share this life changing therapy with others.
Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC is a clinician practicing in the Denver Tech Center. She specializes in EMDR therapy, consultation and training. For more information on EMDR or her trainings, please visit her training website at http://www.emdroftherockies.com. For information on Tamra’s psychotherapy practice visit http://thcounseling.com
Marital conflict, separation, dissolution and court proceedings can be stressful and even traumatic. The arguments, verbal attacks, grief and feelings of loss or betrayal can be devastating. The result of that trauma, if not resolved, is often anxiety, overt stress, and resistance to interactions with one’s former spouse that trigger extreme anxiety and defensiveness. When there are children involved, interacting with one’s ex is necessary, but can be the source of ongoing feelings of traumatization, stress and anxiety, in turn creating more conflict, further escalating the negative feelings. None of these feelings and behaviors are conducive to productive co-parenting or communication, not to mention personal health and wellbeing. However, EMDR can help.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a well researched and established technique that combines imagery, mindfulness, and cognitive techniques to meet the client’s treatment needs. EMDR therapy is often used in trauma counseling, the treatment of anxiety, and in the treatment of a number of other issues. The process of doing EMDR involves focus on a traumatic or disturbing memory while doing back and forth eye movements, listening to alternating tones, and/or feeling alternating vibrations in your hands. This process enables the brain to resolve emotional trauma and gain insight into the circumstance in a way that is often more effective than traditional talk therapy.
What can EMDR mean for someone struggling with divorce or post-divorce conflict?
- It can help to facilitate trauma processing.
- It can reduce undesirable feelings and responses to the triggers of the anxiety.
- It can help to improve one’s ability to maintain a more rational, productive and un-emotional mindset when interacting with their former partner.
- It can help to reduce anxiety.
- It can help to improve an overall sense of well-being.
In a nutshell, the trauma and bad feelings resulting from divorce can fuel conflict and ongoing resentment. By treating the trauma with EMDR, there is tremendous potential to change the dynamic of the interactions between former partners, and to reclaim a life of peace and dignity following divorce.
Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC http://www.thcounseling.com
Following the tragic events of the Movie Theater shooting, and other horrific events over the last decade or two, it is frequently difficult for individuals to cope with the feelings and anxiety that are elicited by those tragedies. Regardless of whether you were witness to the scene, knew someone who was a victim of, or witness to, the tragedy, or if you are just hearing about it from friends or media, it is shocking and difficult to understand.
Symptoms of trauma can include nightmares, depression, anxiety and panic, feelings of insecurity or disbelief that such a tragedy could have happened. Being aware of how you feel is the first step to taking care of yourself in such an aftermath. There are also other things to keep in mind when trying to cope in the face of such a devastating story:
- Remember that feelings of shock and confusion are normal in the aftermath of a very abnormal and tragic event.
- Talk to people about your feelings.
- Spend time with the people you are close to and love.
- Involve yourself in activities you enjoy.
- Nurture yourself.
- Exercise. This releases endorphins which are helpful in the healing process.
- Give yourself time to heal.
If you find yourself in a position where your symptoms are not improving, or you don’t have anyone with whom to talk about your emotions, it is good to seek support or counseling to help you to recover from the shock. There is help available for processing something as difficult to understand as these unthinkable human tragedies.
Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC http://www.thcounseling.com