Trauma and PTSD Therapy, EMDR, Somatic Therapy in Claremont

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Trauma Therapy, EMDR, and Somatic Work

Have you suffered through traumatic events in your life and you aren’t sure if you will ever be able to move past them? Do you struggle with painful memories and body sensations and aren’t sure how to manage them? Do you feel depressed, irritable, detached, and anxious, and blame yourself for how you react to people and situations? Do you engage in destructive patterns of behavior, such as recurrent unhealthy relationships, drug or alcohol abuse, social isolation, disordered eating, or self-harm?

Therapy is a safe space for you to work through your distress and gain freedom from your past. Using a collaborative mind-body approach, I will work with you to discover your individual path towards healing and trauma resolution.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is the result of living through terrifying or life-threatening events, which leave us feeling overwhelmed and powerless.  It is normal to feel afraid when we experience something traumatic. Our bodies have a natural “fight-flight-or-freeze” response that activates when we are in danger and helps keep us safe. But our nervous systems can become dysregulated and “stuck” in survival mode, which can lead to difficulty with a number of areas of daily functioning.

Unresolved trauma negatively impacts our views of ourselves, others, and the world around us. Whether you experienced a single event that dismantled your ability to feel safe, or endured years of long-term neglect or abuse, you may be affected by post-traumatic stress symptoms, continuing to relive the fear and distress as if the trauma were still occurring in the present.

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What are some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

  • Flashbacks–feeling like the traumatic event is happening now
  • Difficulty sleeping, including nightmares and insomnia
  • Frightening and intrusive thoughts
  • Physical symptoms, i.e. heart racing, sweating, muscle tension
  • Being jumpy or easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge” most of the time
  • Mood swings and angry outbursts
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
  • Distorted feelings like guilt, self-blame, and low self-worth
  • Feeling numb or losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Feeling emotionally cut-off from from family and friends
  • Feeling dissociated and detached

Even in the absence of a PTSD diagnosis, if you’ve suffered from traumatic or stressful life events, you may still have great difficulties in your ability to trust others, be in healthy relationships, cope with feelings, or manage various life areas. If you are experiencing any of these issues, working with a trauma therapist is an essential step in aiding and restoring your physical and emotional well-being.

Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.

– Peter Levine

How Can Therapy Help?

Trauma therapy is not just about retelling your trauma story.

Our bodies remember and hold trauma. It is stored in our implicit memories, also known as body memories, This means that words alone are not enough to reach the depth of the trauma’s impact. Talk therapy alone is often not enough to treat the nervous system dysregulation that is so common in people who have struggled with traumatic and stressful life experiences.

Trauma affects our minds and our bodies.

Stuck trauma is not caused by the traumatic event itself, but by the nervous system’s inability to process and release the activation caused by it.  In order to experience lasting relief from symptoms, it is important to access the body and release the painful memories and experiences that are held there. This allows the nervous system to return to a balanced and regulated state. Once our nervous systems are able to self-regulate, as they are designed to do, we are more resilient and capable of making changes to our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors.

I am trained in several therapeutic modalities that are specifically designed to access the mind-body connection in processing and releasing trauma. Attachment-Focused EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a client-centered approach that uses bilateral stimulation to process and release stuck traumatic memories. Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM) is a somatic approach that helps restore balance to the body and mind after traumatic experiences. I use these approaches in my work with clients to achieve meaningful and long-lasting relief from symptoms.

What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful and effective therapy that was originally developed for the treatment of PTSD. EMDR is a form of psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that arise from stressful and distressing life events. It can aid in the process of processing and releasing blocked traumatic material, and reduce the intensity of negative emotions connected to distressing memories and thoughts, enabling people to access a better quality of life.

To learn more about EMDR, please visit the EMDR International Association website: www.EMDRIA.org

How does it work?

The mind can heal from psychological trauma in much the same way as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body naturally begins to heal the wound. However if bacteria or a foreign object gets into it, the natural healing process is interfered with. Once it is cleaned out, the healing can resume again. The same is true for mental health. Your brain has a natural information processing system that moves towards wellness and health. If this system is blocked or thrown off balance by the impact of a disturbing event, it can lead to emotional distress.

EMDR is a tool that can be used to process and release blocked traumatic material that is interfering with your mental and emotional health. It uses bilateral stimulation to engage the left and right side of the brain, via eye movements, sounds, or tapping, while thinking or talking about distressing life experiences. It is believed that engaging both hemispheres in this intentional manner accesses our brain’s natural adaptive information procesing system, similar to the effects of rapid eye movements during the REM stage of sleep, and helps memories become fully processed. As traumatic memories and images are processed and stored appropriately, they become less intense and the emotional response associated with them decreases.

Who can benefit from EMDR?

EMDR can help release deeply stored traumatic material. It helps people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of traumatic life experiences, including childhood abuse, sexual assault, car accidents, and other traumatic events. In addition to the treatment of PTSD, EMDR can also be used to treat the psychological effects of “small traumas”, which are events that exceed our capacity to cope and cause a disruption in our emotional functioning. These distressing events are not inherently life-threatening, but can still manifest in distressing symptoms including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, relationship difficulties, nightmares phobias, and more. Even if you have not experienced any major traumatic life events, EMDR may still be a helpful tool for you in therapy.

Attachment-Focused EMDR

I am trained in Attachment-Focused EMDR, which integrates attachment theory into the traditional practice of healing within an EMDR framework to heal clients with developmental trauma and attachment deficits. This make it especially helpful for people who have experienced childhood abuse or neglect, or who are adult children of alcoholics or dysfunctional families. Early attachment experiences stimulate the growth of neural pathways that will shape an individual’s behaviors as well as their beliefs about themselves, others, and the world throughout their lifespan.  Attachment-Focused EMDR is a powerful method for helping treat disruptions in the thoughts, feelings, and relationships of individuals who have experienced non-secure attachment and relational trauma.

To learn more about Attachment-Focused EMDR, please visit the Parnell Institute website: www.ParnellEMDR.com

What Is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic therapy is a body-centered therapeutic approach that focuses on the connection of mind and body in the healing process. The stress of past emotional and traumatic events affects the central nervous system and can cause changes in the body. Through developing awareness of the mind-body connection and using specific interventions, somatic therapy helps you to release the activation that remains in your body from these past negative experiences. Somatic therapy is helpful for treating a number of problems, including stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, as well as issues related to trauma and abuse.

Trauma Resiliency Model

I have been trained in the Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM), which is a “bottom-up” somatic approach to therapy that focuses on the use sensory awareness for emotion regulation and integration. TRM teaches the biology of trauma responses and the practice of emotion regulation through biologically based skills. TRM works to stabilize the nervous system through managing sensations in the body, which can help in the reprocessing of “stuck” traumatic memories as well as providing self-care strategies for everyday life.

Although talk therapy to gain insight into life experiences can be incredibly helpful, it doesn’t always bring the nervous system back into balance. When a client is pressed to talked a traumatic event, it can actually reinforce the fear and stress that are part of the recollection. Simply re-telling your story can be re-traumatizing. With TRM, no words are needed– the body holds the story that words may be unable to express, and a new narrative can emerge through working with sensations in the body.

To learn more about TRM, please visit the Trauma Resource Institute website: www.TraumaResourceInstitute.com

If you are interested in trauma therapy, EMDR, or somatic therapy and you live in Claremont, Upland, Pomona, La Verne, San Dimas, Glendora, Rancho Cucamonga, or one of the other surrounding cities in the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire, contact me to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation and learn more about how I can help.