EMDR/Trauma Therapy

What is Trauma?

Trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. Trauma can be any painful memory or experience that has been unresolved in your brain, and causes a disruption in your normal functioning. Many people believe trauma only includes extreme, catastrophic, or overtly distressing events. However, people can experience trauma from an accumulation of less profound events or experiences. Trauma can be caused by one event, ongoing, relentless stress or commonly overlooked causes such as surgery, a humiliating experience, or the breakup of a significant relationship.

The following Psychology Today article explains the different types of trauma and explains how post trauma symptoms can develop from many different experiences.


Some traumas include:

  • Any life experience that left you feeling helpless, powerless, or threatened
  • Returning veterans experiencing war, threat of war, death and violence
  • Death of a loved one
  • First responders and law enforcement experiencing fatalities, accident and crime scenes, chronic verbal abuse and stress by the public, an officer-involved shooting, death or injury of fellow officers
  • Physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • Experiencing or witnessing domestic violence, physical assault, serious injury, or the threat of death
  • Serious accidents, medical conditions, or surgeries
  • Experiencing natural disasters
  • School violence
  • Attachment wounds (Feeling shunned, rejected, abandoned, or neglected by a parent/caregiver; being invalidated by a parent; having a parent who was unavailable or put their wants in front of your needs; experiencing a general lack of support during childhood)
  • An accumulation of smaller events that causes a disruption in our functioning and exceeds our capacity to cope (such as Infidelity, betrayal, or a painful relationship breakup; public embarrassment or humiliation; constant criticism by a partner or authority figure; hostile or painful family relationships; experiencing a significant disappointment or personal failure)

Emotional & psychological symptoms:

  • Shock, denial, or disbelief
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Feeling disconnected or numb

Physical symptoms:

  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Being startled easily
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Edginess and agitation
  • Aches and pains
  • Muscle tension

These symptoms sometimes cause:

  • Trouble functioning at home or work
  • Severe fear, anxiety, or depression
  • The inability to form close, satisfying relationships
  • Terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
  • Avoidance of anything that reminds you of the trauma
  • Becoming emotionally numb and disconnected from others
  • The use of alcohol or drugs to feel better
  • Negative thinking (e.g., pessimism, catastrophizing) and self-defeating beliefs (e.g., I’m not good enough, I’m powerless) – both of which are significant sources of anxiety, depression, and relationship problems.
  • Interference with the development of key self-care and relationships skills

EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing may be a fit for you if you have had any of these experiences.

What is EMDR?

Our nervous systems are able to adaptively process and integrate an incredible amount of new information and experiences without our even realizing it. Sometimes, though, a disturbing experience or trauma can be so overwhelming that our nervous system is unable to properly integrate the information. Trauma and disturbing experiences are stored in the right side of the brain. Traditional talk therapy typically accesses only the left side of the brain and is not necessarily the most effective for processing trauma. Because trauma is not fully processed into both the left and right sides of the brain, current situations can trigger intense physical and emotional sensations related to the past disturbing experience or trauma. When triggered in this way, we end up responding as if the past experience is happening or about to happen. This interferes with our ability to intentionally respond to what’s actually happening in the present moment.

EMDR uses bilateral stimulation to access our nervous system’s natural healing processes incorporating both the left and right sides of the brain. These processes create adaptive connections between memory networks so that the brain is able to integrate the disturbing experience and understand it as having happened in the past. The traumatic memory is reprocessed and moved to long-term memory. As a result, these disturbing experiences are less likely to be triggered by current situations, allowing us to live and respond more fully in the present moment.

EMDR has been successfully used for the treatment of:

  • Depression
  • Complex trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbance
  • Complicated grief
  • Addictions
  • Phobias
  • Chronic pain
  • Avoidance behaviors (exercising, etc)
  • Negative self-talk or low self esteem
  • Problematic behaviors

If you’re curious about how EMDR therapy might benefit you, give me a call and we can explore the possibilities together.

“The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams.” – Oprah Winfrey


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Cartwright Counseling logo | Therapy for Teens & Parents | Noblesville, IN

136 South Ninth Street, Suite 204
Noblesville, IN 46060


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