Joanna Goodfellow Counselling and Psychotherapy in Melksham

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“Trauma is hell on earth. Trauma resolved is a gift from the gods.” » Peter A. Levine

EMDR & Trauma. amenite

Trauma and EMDR

Trauma is the result of a very stressful event or series of events that shatter our sense of security, leaving us feeling helpless and vulnerable. Everyone reacts differently to very stressful events, some recover naturally and in good time, while others will experience post traumatic stress and will suffer post traumatic stress symptoms.

Traumatic experiences often involve life threatening situations or a threat to safety, but any situation that leaves us feeling overwhelmed, alone and frightened can be traumatic. The more frightened and helpless we feel, the more likely we are to be traumatised. We hold a memory of that trauma in our brains and our bodies.

Traumatic experiences can cause us to emotionally split off and then bury parts of ourselves out of our awareness in order to live with the unbearable trauma. In order to manage this split we find ways of surviving which include include difficulty with relationships, depression or anxiety, addiction, phobias, to name a few. These survival strategies keep the trauma at bay but they can become restricting and even life threatening over time.

Trauma is held in the body and we can develop illness, tensions, or find that we slightly restrict our breathing causing other bodily issues. When working with trauma Joanna pays attention to both body and mind.

EMDR is the NICE approved treatment for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is the name given when someone's trauma symptoms persist for longer than 3 months after the traumatic event. Not everyone will go on to develop PTSD and many find that their symptoms will fade over the first three months. About 30% of people who experience traumatic events will go on to develop PTSD.

EMDR has been developed through clinical research over the past 20 years to treat PTSD and traumatic memories. It is now often also used to work with phobias and anxiety disorders.

EMDR uses eye movement or tapping, to enable the brain to begin to process memories that have become "stuck". EMDR appears to facilitate the accessing of the traumatic memory and the information is processed with new associations being made between the disturbing memory and new associations, leading to information processing, alleviation of emotional distress and development of insights.

"What the mind has forgotten, the body remembers long after"
- Lilian Folan

Assessment for EMDR

Usually a full history will be taken alongside other evaluations to see if EMDR is the right choice for you. EMDR can be useful at times depending on you and your personal history.

There is an assessment which can take one or two sessions and then some preliminary work. If EMDR is suitable then there may be 10 to 16 sessions. This is an illustration of how it could work and not everyone fits the same pattern.

EMDR works with the following issues:

Key Benefits

EMDR often resolves emotional disturbances and trauma where other therapies have failed.
EMDR is effective for most anxiety based disorders.
EMDR should not be confused with hypnotherapy. EMDR is a client led therapy and always remains within the control of the client.
EMDR is capable of rapid results.
Conditions suitable for therapy

EMDR is particularly suitable for the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Trauma (resulting from accidents, disasters and emotional distress)
  • Bereavement
  • Addiction and substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Phobias
  • Abuse (verbal, physical and sexual)
  • Self-esteem issues

EMDR & Trauma. Library Image: Purple Flowers


Traumatic experiences affect people differently. Sometimes the symptoms occur straight away while for others the symptoms can appear months or years later. Here are some of the symptoms of trauma:

  • Eating disturbance
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Low energy
  • Chronic, unexplained pain
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Fearfulness
  • Compulsive and obsessive behaviours
  • Feeling out of control
  • Irritability
  • Memory lapses
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling distracted
  • guilt feelings
  • grief reactions
  • jumpiness, feeling very alert
  • overreactions, including sudden unprovoked anger
  • obsessions with death

Sometimes people will re-experience the trauma through :
  • intrusive thoughts
  • flashbacks or nightmares
  • sudden floods of emotions or images related to the traumatic event

Counselling and therapy can help with these symptoms and experiences and EMDR can be particularly helpful.

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