BN Counseling, LLC

Coaching and Counseling Social, Emotional and Relational Life Management Skills

Trauma/ EMDR

What is Trauma?

Emotions are colorful, dramatic and succulent. They can guide for survival, or be destructive and painful. There are two parts to trauma. The first part is comprised of whatever event overwhelmed the person’s ability to go on, and the second part is what happens afterwards.

What happens afterwards can embed, lessen, or change the overwhelming experience. The aftermath is what is frequently most traumatizing. When the person attempts to repress the traumatic experience by minimizing its importance or deny its existence, a split occurs.

This split is between:

  • the perceived experience of the event and
  • the event that is reflected differently by a “neededother” i.e. , a parent or partner

Adapted from Jennifer Leighton, LCSW (2007). Enhancing Psychoanalysis: A Case of Integrating EMDR. Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 5:105-125

What is EMDR?

EMDR is a therapeutic technique that can accelerate processing and assimilation of traumatic and shame-drenched material. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR consciously evokes awareness of body sensations, emotions, and negative beliefs (or cognitions) related to a negatively experienced event at the same time the event is visualized by the patient. Bilateral processing (including eye movements, alternate tones, tapping) is employed to help further the integration of these cognitive, emotional and sensory experiences. It is a psychotherapy treatment that is designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories or when one is ‘stuck’ in the therapeutic process.

EMDR can help children, women and men with the following symptoms:

 Intrusion or Re-experiencing the event, which can look like:

  • Intrusive thoughts or memories
  • Nightmares related to the trauma
  • Flashbacks, feeling like the event is happening again
  • Psychological and physical reactivity to reminders of the traumatic event, such as an anniversary

Avoidant symptoms where one may try to avoid any memory of the event, like:

  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings connected to the traumatic event
  • Avoiding people or situations connected to the traumatic event, difficulty trusting people/friends

A decline or change in mood or thoughts, which can look like:

  • Memory problems / forgetfulness
  • Negative thoughts or beliefs about one’s self or the world
  • Distorted self- blame or others, Unrealistic feelings of guilt and shame
  • Being stuck in severe emotions related to the trauma (e.g. horror, shame, sadness)
  • Severely reduced interest in pre-trauma activities
  • Feeling detached, isolated or disconnected from other people

Increased watchfulness or guardedness which can cause:

  • Difficulty focusing & Self-conscious
  • Irritability, increased temper or anger
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Hyper-vigilance Relationship problems, and fear of being alone
  • Being easily startled, feeling intense fear, helplessness or horror
  • Generalization of flight, fight or freeze responses

Dissociation which can look like:

  • De-personalization, or feeling disconnected from oneself
  • De-realization, a sense that one’s surroundings aren’t real

EMDR can help with the following conditions:

  • Panic attacks/High Anxiety
  • Complicated grief
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Disturbing memories
  • Phobias
  • Pain disorders
  • Performance anxiety & Social Withdrawal
  • Depression & Stress reduction
  • Addictions
  • Sexual and/or Physical abuse
  • Body dysmorphic & Eating disorders


EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing – 20/20 Report:

Francine Shapiro Ph.D. EMDR Webinar “The Past is Present”: