connecting the mind and body for lasting results
Trauma are memories mis-stored in our nervous system
Trauma is a brain thing. It is how we (and our nervous system) relate to adverse experiences. When we experience an event, our nervous system reacts to protect us…freeze, fight, or flee. Sometimes our nervous system stays in the alert or dorsal vagal (shut down) mode as it does not know you are no longer in that experience. Trauma, like PTSD, are unprocessed maladaptively stored memories in the nervous system.
These memories are “stuck” and unprocessed as a reminder of danger for your own protection. It’s like when someone almost drowns and, subsequently, they have panic attacks around large bodies of water. Your nervous system is still on alert and your brain has not integrated the memories of the event.
EMDR stands for eye-movement desensitization & reprocessing. It’s a treatment that targets a painful memory, and with sets of rapid eye movements (or tactile or auditory bilateral stimulation), your brain and nervous system begins the process of “integration and reinterpretation” of the memory, as noted by Bessel van der Kolk in his book, The Body Keeps the Score. Basically the memory no longer is right in your face causing so many issues but placed in the past separating the emotion from the memory.
EMDR is a rapid and gentle therapy; and approved by the DoD, VA, and WHO as an evidence-based treatment for PTSD. It is also proven to help with various other conditions. Many people like that they do not need to expose all details of the memory. EMDR is more about integration and insight rather than desensitization.