My specialty has evolved from life transitions to trauma

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For the entire time I’ve been a therapist, I have always taken a strong interest in life transitions. As someone who has gone through many such transitions myself, I have been well aware of how people going through big changes can get stuck.

Over time, however, I have begun to realize more and more how one of the big sticking points has been trauma. As such, I found that I could not effectively address life transitions without looking at traumatic experiences. I also began to realize that trauma was affecting other aspects of life besides life transitions. Because of this, my specialty has broadened from life transitions to treating all kinds of trauma.

All of us have dealt with trauma on one level or another, though we might not always call it “trauma.” I look at trauma as a “Great Interruptor.” I define trauma as a event that is so severe that it causes a person to go into “survival mode.” In such cases, our minds put all focus on responding to a perceived threat to our existence, at the expense of being able to think about a situation rationally. This threat might trigger a “flight or fight response,” which is a physical reaction involving the release of stress hormones. Such responses can be the result of perceived threats, regardless of how real they might actually be. Similar events that come up later can re-trigger such responses, thereby acting as a barrier to responding to the event in a rational and productive way.

Because of this, trauma can act as an enormous stumbling block to solving many sorts of problems. I kept encountering this in the therapy sessions I offered, I realized I needed to find ways to address trauma.

At the same time, I realized that my mother, who herself was a therapist and social worker (but who passed away a few years before I myself decided to become a therapist) had become a practitioner of EMDR. Standing for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR seeks to overcome the crippling effects of trauma by reconnecting our rational mind with the part of our mind that has a survival/fight or flight response to past events. An EMDR treatment has many aspects, but a big part of the treatment involves revisiting the traumatic events by using a series of eye movements (or other types of stimulation) while going over past events that are often triggering.

While the treatment doesn’t require any equipment per se, I was surprised to discover in a Christmas visit to my father that he had my mother’s old light tablet and audio/tactile pulser (sometimes affectionately referred to as “tappers” or “buzzies”) still in a hallway closet eleven years after her passing. (He was happy to clear out the space in his closet).

That sealed the deal for me and I became determined to learn EMDR. As I went through the training, I I discovered to my pleasant surprise that EMDR fit neatly into my own experiences and beliefs about what can cause psychological distress. I have now completed the training and I am ready to offer it to anyone who wants to try it as a means to overcome past traumas.

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As such, I now want to focus more on trauma. I have restructured my website to reflect this change in focus. Life transitions are but one area of life that can be stymied by past trauma. According to the EMDR International Association, EMDR can treat anxiety, grief, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, addictions, phobias, and disturbing and intrusive memories, as well as other issues.  So if you are dealing with any of these issues and want to try EMDR, contact me!