SOMATIC AND ATTACHMENT-FOCUSED EMDR
When most people heard the word “trauma,” they tend to think of what we call Big “T” trauma. These are events that occur that are highly distressing and often life-threatening (think violence or a life-threatening injury or situation). However, we can also experience little “t” trauma. This is when we experience events that are distressing, overwhelming, and challenge our ability to cope but not life-threatening (think emotional abuse, harassment, or loss of significant relationship). Experiencing both can cause symptoms that can be difficult to deal with.
Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic model that’s currently getting a lot of buzz (did you see that Grey’s Anatomy episode with it?) and has been shown to support clients in resolving trauma. When we experience something stressful or traumatic, our brain processes and stores memories incorrectly. As a result of that incorrect storage, our past memories related to traumatic or stressful events can feel like they are happening in this time and place, and we react to current stimuli similarly to how we did at the time of the trauma. Because of the interconnected nature of our emotional and physical state, we also often react physically to stimuli that we did at the time of the trauma.
EMDR uses a technique called bilateral stimulation during which the therapist guides the client through taps, eye movements or tones that use both hemispheres of the brain. This helps the painful memory lose its charge and consequently move to a more functional part of the brain. In addition to trauma, EMDR can also help with symptoms of anxiety and depression as it helps identify and shift negative belief systems that can hold the anxiety and depression in place.
Somatic and attachment-focused EMDR (SAFE EMDR) takes the constructs of regular EMDR and incorporates aspects of body-centered psychotherapies and attachment theory to deepen the potential for transformation and healing while helping you feel safe. The somatic components of SAFE EMDR use specific resources to help you gently build awareness, provide opportunities to release excess arousal from the nervous system, and consequently increase the feeling of safety within your own body. The attachment components of SAFE EMDR gently look at how you adapted to the environment you grew up in, understanding how those adaptations were helpful at the time, and gaining insight into how those adaptations might be getting in the way of authentic connection now. With increased insight and awareness comes increased ability to make difference choices.
If you want to learn more about EMDR, visit the EMDR Institute, Inc. at https://www.emdr.com/ or the EMDR International Association at https://www.emdria.org/. If you want more information about SAFE EMDR as a therapy approach, visit the Personal Transformation Institute at https://emdr-training.net/somatic-attachment-focused-s-f-e-emdr-different/. If you want to untangle from trauma or belief systems that get in the way of what’s important to you, contact me to set up an appointment or free 15-minute phone consultation.