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“In the final stage of recovery] the survivor no longer feels possessed by her traumatic past; she is in possession of herself.”  – Judith Herman

What is trauma? Trauma is any negative experience in life that overwhelms comprehension at the time of the event. In many cases, the memory is fragmented. But in all cases, the overwhelming quality of what happened gets stored in your nervous system. Because it’s not something that the logical, rational part of our brain can process the way it processes other information, it’s not something you can just rationally get over. 
These events can vary from the aftermath of abuse, assault, terror and violence to medical procedures, car accidents and other life-altering events. Traumatic experiences, even in the distant past, often leave people with intrusive thoughts, feelings of terror, flashbacks and body sensations. Most people suffer in silence because of the shame they feel, worrying they are juvenile, weak or crazy.

I subscribe to the belief that recovery from traumatic stress is attainable for all people. But while I used to believe that years of talk therapy was the only way this happened, I now see it differently. Once safety and support are established, I now believe that talk therapy’s effectiveness is somewhat limited when it comes to actually changing the dread and panic people experience in their daily lives. However, I have found a breakthrough technique called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) to be the most effective tool for transforming trauma. I have been using this technique for the past 5 years, and I am continually astonished by how rapidly people feel symptom relief and can re-author the stories of their lives. To educate yourself about EMDR, check out www.emdr.com

Recommended Reading:

The Courage to Heal.  Ellen Bass & Laura Davis
Traumatic Stress.  Bessel van der Kolk, Alexander McFarlane & Lars Weisaeth
Trauma & Recovery.  Judith Herman
EMDR.  Francine Shapiro & Margot Silk Forrest
The Body Remembers.  Babbette Rothschild


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