Trauma can result in attachment and relationship problems that often begin in early formidable relationships that are weak or where caregivers are unavailable to help nurture. The result can be long lasting anxiety and depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, making healthy relationship formation in children, adolescents and adults difficult. We often see a pervasive belief that the individual thinks they are “not good enough” or a sense that they “don’t fit in”, At other times we see individuals who base relationships on performance trying to win approval from those around them.
Whether single incident or a series of cumulative disturbing events, there is help in overcoming and working through what has happened. There is hope and healing.
Recently after using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) with a couple that were unable to let go of incidents that occurred 30 years ago, the husband proclaimed, “I haven’t even thought about what happened over the past two weeks; it doesn’t disturb me anymore”. Similarly, his wife reported, “it is as if it happened to somebody else and I am not bothered by it.” As part of the ongoing healing process couples should learn more effective communication skills, problem-solving skills, and conflict resolution skills. We will always have disagreements, but every disagreement does not have to be an issue.
Several years ago, I worked with a set of siblings ages 4 and 6 who had lost their sister and were removed from their home as a result. One evening I received a phone call from the foster mother asking if I could come to the house and console the 4-year-old as he would not stop crying. As we sat at the dining room table playing with legos and I realized he was trying to make sense of what happened in his life. I made up a story, Sam the Dragon, that paralleled with what had occurred in his own life, and as he listened to the story he calmed and replied, “that’s what happened to me”. That was just the beginning of his healing process. Whether it is death of a loved one, neglect, or abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), there is healing through the power of play and therapies like EMDR, or TF-CBT. With patience and love, and understanding hearts, our children can be healed.
Adolescents often struggle with self-acceptance and acceptance by others. Formation of identity is critical during this time and guidance may be needed. Unconditional acceptance is critical to their development during this time of transition, as well as encouraging skills in problem solving and making appropriate choices.
Veterans, Military, and First Responders
First Responders often stay in their field of expertise for many years re-experiencing similar traumatic events. Years of accumulated disturbing experiences frequently result in detachment and isolation from family and friends, and can exacerbate depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
It is vital that our veterans, active-duty military and first responders know there is help and healing; life can again have purpose and meaning as well as close loving relationships with family and friends.
I am a certified EMDR therapist and an approved EMDR consultant through EMDRIA. IN 2016 I was sitting in my first training to become an EMDR therapist. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR was initially discovered by Francine Shapiro in 1987 while walking in a park. I was a sceptic and needed to prove to myself that this was either real or just another fly by night theory. At the end of the day in training, we were paired with another therapist to practice what we had learned from the day. I selected what I wanted to work on and by the 5th swipe across my eyes, I couldn't talk or breathe; my heart was so full of emotion all I could do was put my finger in the air and wave it. That one session changed my life; all the pain I had experienced from one relationship dissipated and the relationship was restored within a very short time.
So what is this powerful, healing, therapy; Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and how does it work?