What is Trauma?
A part of the human experience is to go through painful and distressing times in life. And each individual interprets and holds onto experiences differently. Likewise, one person may remember an event as being mildly upsetting. And another may experience symptoms of trauma from it for years.
Trauma is a way of explaining that an event, situation, or experience from the past has left a profound emotional impact on you. Further, an individual experience may be referred to as a “traumatic event.” The impacts of trauma may be felt for days, weeks, months, or even years after the fact.
Often, when you think of trauma, you envision a war veteran, a school shooting survivor, or a survivor of 9/11. However, trauma is more regularly experienced than these examples. The pain that you feel from experiencing grief or loss, whether from the death of a loved one or a breakup, can be traumatic. Situations in which a friend or partner has betrayed you, such as cheating or intimate partner violence, can impact you. Then, leaving you with trauma. Furthermore, things from childhood like bullying or harassment can leave a negative impact on you. These are all examples of trauma.
Symptoms of Trauma
Negative thoughts/feelings about self
Feeling distrustful or unsafe
Trouble sleeping or nightmares
Lack of interest in things or feeling detached/numb
Trauma and the Brain
When you experience trauma, your brain does not function as it normally would. Typically, your brain stores memories in the logical part of your brain. But, when something very emotionally volatile happens, the memory can get “stuck” in the emotional part of your brain. This is why triggers happen.
A trigger is a warning sign to your brain that something could be dangerous. Triggers are associated with sounds, smells, sights, and bodily sensations. For example, if you are a survivor of sexual assault, smelling a particular scent that reminds you of the assault may trigger you. Or seeing someone who resembles your abuser may really upset you.
So, this may cause your fight, flight, freeze, or fawn responses to come out. And these responses can be really frustrating to experience. It can be upsetting when you thought you had moved past the situation and are now triggered. But, these responses are actually your body’s defense mechanism to keep you safe.
When you have gone through trauma, your brain and body want to alert you if something similar is about to happen. This is innate, meaning we have no control over it. So when you are feeling triggered, what is actually happening in your brain responding to something it believes to be threatening. It signals your muscles and hormones to react. And sometimes, the reaction (fight, flight, freeze, or fawn) doesn’t make sense.
What is EMDR Therapy?
Because the body and brain were not intended to undergo extreme stress, they malfunction sometimes. So, you may experience triggers to things that are not dangerous. But because they feel familiar and unsafe, your brain wants to get the fight, flight, freeze, and fawn reactions going. So, EMDR therapy can help you process memories, then store them correctly. This helps your brain rewrite the narrative of triggers, giving you relief.
EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization reprocessing. In fact, it is an evidence-based therapy used to treat trauma. The goal of EMDR therapy is to move your traumatic memories from the emotional part of your brain to the logical part. This movement helps you process memories by creating a pathway for the two parts of the brain to communicate. So, EMDR’s goal is to form the connection and guide memories to the logical side. This helps you because it lessens the emotional reactions you may have to triggers.
Bilateral stimulation opens this communication path in the brain. This happens when an EMDR therapist aids you in creating back and forth movements with your eyes. We will discuss this more and find a way to incorporate bilateral stimulation that feels comfortable to you. On another note, bilateral stimulation is a part of EMDR that makes it very different from traditional talk therapy.
Our Approach to EMDR Therapy
When you come to therapy at our Louisville, CO therapy practice, you don’t have to hold back. Our therapists provide a space in which you can come as you are and explore the hardest memories. Then, you’ll come out on the other side stronger than ever. Our focus in EMDR therapy is to work through singular traumatic events that trigger you today. Often, singular events can impact you for years down the road in many complex ways. Many clients like EMDR because you don’t have to discuss details of your trauma if you do not want to. For some, this makes the therapy process much easier.
Further, EMDR has a strict set of eight stages that an EMDR therapist must move through with the client. In EMDR, we will not only go through these eight phases. We will also talk about coping strategies and grounding practices. These are important because processing trauma is hard work. There will be moments in which you feel overwhelmed, but your therapist will be there as your guide. They will support you and listen throughout your work together.
EMDR for Sexual Assault Survivors
Vitality’s founder, Kate Kelsey has extensive experience providing therapy to survivors of sexual assault. Specifically, she provided therapy to undergraduate and graduate students for many years. And during that time, she found EMDR to be very effective for helping survivors move forward in their lives. EMDR helps by decreasing triggers and creating positive beliefs about yourself.
Begin EMDR Therapy in Louisville, CO
Being held back by the past can be exhausting. You deserve to live abundantly with hope for the future. And when you choose our Boulder, CO area counseling practice, we’ll figure out what that looks like for you. And for added convenience, we offer online therapy in Colorado so we can meet you wherever you’re at. When you’re ready to take the first steps toward healing, follow the steps below.
- Schedule a free 20-minute consultation.
- Meet with one of our skilled therapists to talk about your goals for therapy.
- Process the past and move forward.
Other Therapy Services at Vitality
At our therapy practice in Louisville, CO, you can find healing. We provide individual and couples counseling for a variety of issues. For couples, our therapists offer premarital counseling, counseling for new parents, and help for communication problems. In terms of individual therapy, we provide anxiety and perfectionism treatment and therapy for life transitions. Additionally, our team works with survivors of sexual assault and women. If you have further questions about our practice, check out the FAQ page and blog!