Severe trauma, whether it be physical, sexual or emotional has been associated with very serious impact on nearly every aspect of an individual’s functioning. Usually, the earlier, more severe and more often the individual has been “traumatized”, the greater the level of damage. The old saying, “time heels all wounds” is not accurate when it comes to trauma. Time may result in the development of a series of debilitating symptoms and a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder As we are now discovering, traumatic memories are not processed as regular memories and impact on how the individual thinks, feels and behave. The kind, caring and supportive efforts of friends, families and counselors rarely provide a “cure” for the painful memories that are locked in the individual’s body and mind. Avoidance and distraction provides only temporary relief from re-occurring thoughts and vivid images. Similarly, drugs provide superficial distraction but no cure.
The treatment of trauma varies depending on the type of professional you work with and their particular skills and approach. Again, traditional counseling approaches have been largely unsuccessful in the treatment of trauma. Over the past 20 or so years more experiential based approaches that focus on exposure to past trauma are proving to be increasing effective in the treatment of trauma.
Hypnosis, cognitive behaviorally based exposure therapy and eye movement and desensitization (EMDR) are examples of these types of therapies. Typically, the more skilled and experienced the therapist, the better the outcome of treatment.
Hypnosis and cognitive behavior therapy rely more on the direction of the therapist where with EMDR the structure is provided by the therapist but the direction is based on the experiences and reactions of the client.
The psychological treatment of trauma usually occurs over a series of months although in complex cases, longer treatment periods may ne needed.
I have personally found EMDR to be a powerful method well tolerated and generally liked by a majority of my clients. Most clients have already heard of EMDR and seek me out as a skilled and experienced EMDR practitioner. Other clients are intrigued by the idea once I explain how it works.
The successful treatment of trauma allows many clients to give up their dependence on medication, improve their symptoms and lead a happier and more satisfying life.