Over the past several years, there has been a shift in the mental health and medical field on the views of how traumatic experiences impact individuals. Rather than looking at trauma as something that just affects one psychologically, we now know that both the short-term and long-term physical effects of trauma are astounding. From addiction and relationship problems to chronic migraines and fibromyalgia to cardiovascular disease and cancer, trauma has lasting impacts on the brain and body. Through the ACE (Averse Childhood Experiences) study, we now know there is a clear link between childhood traumas and long term health and social consequences. Trauma impacts the individual by causing impairments in social, emotional, and cognitive functioning. Risky behaviors are often adopted to help someone cope with the problems that emerge because of trauma. These risky behaviors increase the chances of disease, disability, and social problems, ultimately resulting in an early death.
Beyond the impact of trauma on the individual, one can look at the impact of trauma on a societal and global level. As Rolf Carriere points out in the Ted Talks link below, trauma impacts human development, economic development, and world peace. It is often unrecognized, undiagnosed, and untreated. There are impacts on the individual’s education, productivity, creativity, and general wellness. It goes without saying with the high frequency of traumatic experiences occurring on a daily basis, from natural disasters, war zone traumas, and different forms of abuse, the results can be devastating on an economical level.
One of the biggest challenges we face in the treatment of trauma is finding interventions that are effective at producing both immediate relief and long-term change in clients. With the staggering number of individuals we know having experienced sexual assault and/or abuse during their lifetime (1:4 women; 1:7 men), the need for these effective interventions is even more critical. Research over the past several decades has provided evidence to suggest a variety of techniques that are proven to show improvements in individuals who have experienced trauma. You can find a full list of all evidence-based therapeutic interventions at http://www.nrepp.samhsa.gov/ViewAll.aspx.
At PASAC, we have continued to seek out information and training on the most effective treatments for trauma. One treatment method that is relatively new to our practice is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). EMDR is a treatment method that employs bilateral stimulation, through eye movements, tones, or tactile stimulation, to activate the brain’s natural information processing system to allow for quick processing of traumatic events. With EMDR, the individual is targeting the image, body sensations, emotions, and negative core beliefs that have emerged as a result of the trauma for processing. With EMDR there is also not the pressure to feel as if one has to verbalize the details of the trauma during the process. This targeted focus also allows for the memory to be processing in a more thorough way. With EMDR, treatment is generally shorter in length and the benefits of EMDR are seen to be immediate short-term relief and lasting long-term changes. Both SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Publications) and WHO (World Health Organization) officially recognize EMDR as an evidence-based and scientifically validated treatment for trauma.
All of our therapist are trained in EMDR and receive continued training on the treatment method to ensure competency in using this treatment method. If you are interested in learning more about EMDR as a treatment for trauma, click on the links below. For a full list of the certified EMDR therapists, check out the EMDRIA link below.
Treating Trauma – Link to PDF article
Kelli Morrow, MS, LPP, LPCC