Trauma Isn't the End of the Story

SALLY RUMSEY, MS LPC EMDR-Certified on Sep 01, 2022 in Mood and Feelings

I've only really been in the EMDR world for a year now, but I am still so surprised when I am in the real world and I hear trauma described in such finality. I'm not disputing that traumatic events are life-shattering catastrophes. I'm not disputing that once someone has been touched by trauma their lives will undoubtably change. What I hear that is so disturbing to me is the presumption that once trauma has touched a life, that life will never be repaired.

A Glimmer of Hope

Recently I was at a gathering where survivors of gun-violence were speaking. I met a woman, let's call her Barb, who relayed that her daughter had been kidnapped at gunpoint over 20 years ago. Barb was at the gathering because she woke that morning with a glimmer of hope that compelled her to join the other survivors and families. Barb admitted that her daughter's life had been dramatically changed by her trauma and that even after so many years, her daughter was incredibly fragile, had little resiliency, and was ruled by anxiety at the thought of leaving her small circle of friends and comfort.

EMDR is a Game Changer for Trauma

I asked Barb if she had heard of EMDR. She said she maybe had heard of it, but she had not had that kind of therapy.

I started to tell her about it's evidence at treating trauma, at the incredible results I've seen and read about in my EMDR therapy world. I explained how EMDR moves the traumatic memory from short-term memory to long-term. I explained the process and how the client doesn't need to relive, flood, or describe the trauma in extreme detail in order to be able to effectually process it. I explained the neuroscience of it, how new connections are made, new cognitions are formed and then reinforced. How the memory remains but the cognitions, emotions, and body sensations shift to a more positive tone.

Barb's eyes grew wide as I spoke. Tears came, and she mumbled something about feeling so emotional, "even after all these years."

Treat Yourself First

Barb asked me what the best way would be to get her daughter into this type of therapy. I answered honestly and in accordance with my own beliefs around therapy: "Treat yourself first. Your healing and resiliency will be the best chance of convincing others that it's possible for them."

Try Again

My point: Don't lose hope. Old traumas, new traumas, traumas that are so deep and denied — these are all treatable. Of course there is no magic spell, and results vary. But if the choice is to continue to suffer indefinitely or to try again — please try again. Find a therapist you're comfortable with and who has experience treating similar issues. Pour your resources into your health — because in the end, there isn't much else that matters more.

SALLY RUMSEY is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Hartland, VT.

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