The truth is…we weren’t designed to experience or have to cope with trauma. We also weren’t created to struggle with what often results because of trauma….divorce, depression, anxiety, suicide, addiction, codependency, and many, many other painful, unwanted things that penetrate our lives. God created us to be in a whole and intimate relationship with Him, but because of sin, we are exposed to various experiences that are traumatic. But we have a choice. We have a choice to face our sin and the sins of others in one of two ways—healthy or unhealthy. We can choose to surrender, understand, work through, and overcome. Or we can choose to remain in hurt, shame, and fear.
At CDC, we are passionate about educating both our clients and our community on the impact of trauma in peoples’ lives. Our goal is to help the hurting heal and live restored lives in truth and freedom. When thinking of trauma, it is easy to categorize things such as war or combat, natural disasters, catastrophic accidents, sexual abuse, or physical abuse as traumatic. Those types of traumatic events are what we call “Big ‘T’ Trauma.” But what about everything else in life that does not fall into the “Big T” category? Those things that are emotionally overwhelming, distressing and often times debilitating?
We believe in taking a new approach to trauma education and treatment where we have the ability to promote healing and restoration for all people in all walks of life. At CDC, we believe that trauma can be best defined as anything not nurturing. When we say that to most people, it is typical that we get a puzzled look. When we mention events such as divorce, infidelity, difficult parental relationships in childhood, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, addiction, financial worries, legal issues, or bullying, we usually see a significant shift in understanding. The reason for that shift is because most likely, we all have experienced some degree of this and can relate to the pain, hurt, and shame that follows. These are what we call “Small ‘T’ Trauma.” Often times we do not understand how these “Small T’s” affect us in daily life in our relationships until we acknowledge that what we have been through is traumatic.
One of the most effective therapeutic interventions used to treat trauma is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). We believe in it so much that all of our clinicians at CDC are trained in EMDR. EMDR is an evidence based treatment approach to treat Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as well as various other issues such as panic attacks, complicated grief, disturbing memories, phobias, pain disorders, eating disorders, anxiety, addiction, and painful sexual or physical abuse memories.
EMDR was developed in 1987 by Francine Shapiro by a chance observation that eye movements can reduce disturbing memories or thoughts. When a person has experienced any form of trauma (remember…anything not nurturing), their brain cannot process the information adequately. Because the brain isn’t able to fully process the memory or thought, it becomes “frozen in time.” For example, have you ever had to talk about something really difficult in your life? When thinking back and talking about that memory, did you feel emotional overwhelm, shame, and pain? That’s a traumatic memory that is unprocessed.
By the use of eye movements in EMDR, the processed and unprocessed information in the brain connect, and a person is able to create meaning about the memory and themselves in relation to the memory. A person is able to “make sense” of what happened to them. Often times after processing memories with EMDR, clients report that details of the memory fade, and they feel significantly less emotional in relation to the memory.
After trauma occurs, we often develop negative beliefs about who we are as people. We live in pain, shame, and fear that translates into feeling unsafe, unlovable, and unworthy. The result of processing traumatic memories with EMDR is changing those negative beliefs into beliefs that are rooted in truth. I am safe. I am loved. I am worthy. If you haven’t had anyone in your life to teach and help you believe those truths or those truths have been skewed through experiencing trauma, we hope that you reach out for help. You are not alone. We believe healing, restoration, and freedom are possible for you and for our community.
If you have any questions related to trauma or EMDR treatment, please reach out to us, and we would love to help you!
-Whitney Voss, M.S., PLPC, CSAT-Candidate