Dealing with trauma is a whole-body process.
It’s not the kind of thing you sit and talk about for 20 minutes, and then walk away able to forget the traumatic experience.
More often than not trauma survivors are bombarded with an array of negative emotions. Guilt and shame are two of the heavy hitters that survivors face. There is a therapeutic method to help alleviate these harmful emotions. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR can help heal feelings of guilt and shame.
How Your Body and Mind Can Become Traumatically Connected
When you experience a traumatic event, the event sticks with you, even after the moment has passed.
It’s not uncommon to feel mentally and physically aroused at random times, much like how you felt during the actual traumatic event. As your mind attempts to process vivid memories of the past, your body responds by activating your sympathetic nervous system.
This part of your body causes rapid breathing, increased heart rate and an adrenaline rush.
The state of physical preparedness can quickly spread anxiety throughout your entire being. You might not be able to concentrate, socialize, sleep, or even function in your daily life like you want because of feelings of guilt and shame about your past.
It’s an understatement to say that trauma survivors know all too well the connection between the body and mind.
As you can imagine, this great physical upheaval frequently increases the amount of guilt and shame you feel.
How EMDR Works to Lessen the Impact of Memories
For most trauma survivors, memories serve as negative triggers. A single memory can have the power to send you down a spiral of negative emotions dominated by guilt and shame.
Although a direct approach to trauma is usually the most effective, many people avoid it for fear of triggering the horrible feelings attached to the traumatic memories.
This is where EMDR steps in with a different approach.
As your therapist guides you to move your eyes – usually back and forth like watching a ping-pong game – the uncomfortable feeling begins to fade. In other words, you become desensitized to it.
During this session, your therapist will also purposefully bring up your traumatic memories. Just as your body and mind became desensitized to the eye movement, they are also simultaneously desensitized to the guilt and shame of the traumatic memories.
EMDR helps to complete a power transfer, per se. The transfer is from your memories to your mental strength. EMDR empowers you to face the past.
Your Negative Emotional Response Will Decrease.
The number of EMDR sessions necessary to positively impact you depends on your physical response in each session, as well as the trauma you initially faced.
Each session will produce a unique result. More than anything, though, the traumatic memory won’t force you into a state of anxiety. Guilt and shame will no longer have the power they once did.
The more the memory is desensitized during your EMDR sessions, the less of an impact these negative memories will have on you.
Not only does this make the trauma easier for you to process, but it also allows a level of normalcy to return to your life.
Eventually you will no longer have to struggle with avoiding your triggers or managing intense feelings of guilt and shame.
Take the first step…
If you are ready to consider EMDR therapy for a painful past, I would like to help. I have been a Certified EMDR Therapist since 2004. I have helped hundreds of clients benefit from this incredibly useful methodology. Please get in touch with me via voicemail or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT