EMDR and Trauma: 2 Main Trauma Groups

The EMDR Association was founded in 1990 to promote the use of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) with populations experiencing trauma. As an evidence-based treatment, it has been used for more than 30 years by thousands of clinicians around the world to help people heal from traumatic events. This article discusses how EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that can be helpful when someone experiences emotional distress after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. 

What Is Trauma and EMDR?

Trauma may be described as a mix of emotions including confinement, helplessness, and anxiety. EMDR is used to leave the effects of traumas behind. Desensitization and reprocessing are done with a focus on events experienced as trauma.

What can cause psychological trauma?

Trauma can happen at any age, but especially if the person is young. Parents facing divorce or losing a loved one are both examples of scenarios that can traumatize children. Child abuse (by an adult), child neglect (by adults), seeing violence on TV, witnessing traumatic events in a child’s life including witnessing a house fire – these things all have potential to cause psychological trauma in a child.

Traumas are divided into two groups: Macro traumas and micro traumas.

Macro traumas are extraordinary events that affect someone’s life on a large scale: Events such as experiencing natural disasters, losing a relative, being exposed to or seeing those who have been exposed to physical-sexual violence, having a major accident, undergoing a major and serious operation are macro traumas.

If you have experienced similar events and the intense effects last for more than 1 month, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

emdr and trauma
@what.is.mental.illness Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences.

In this case;

  • If you remember the traumatic event and you feel vivid as if you are reliving the emotions that accompany that event,
  • If you try to avoid situations and thoughts that remind you of the event,
  • If you have negative feelings and thoughts such as guilt, regret, anger,
  • If bodily feelings come when you remember the event.

With EMDR therapy, it is possible to process traumatic events effectively and quickly.

Many studies have been conducted on the resolution of post-traumatic stress disorder with psychotherapy. Among these, EMDR is one of the most researched and proven reliable methods.

Micro Traumas

emdr and trauma: 2 main trauma groups 1
Source: @daniellcarrion

We can easily say that the majority of clients have problems due to micro traumas. Because micro traumas are more common. Everyone experienced some kind of a micro trauma in their lives.

Seeing the success of EMDR in the field of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR has been used in the problems related to micro traumas other than Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in recent years and it has been observed that it is also effective there. So what are the kinds of events that we call micro trauma?

According to Psychology Today, micro traumas are “small actions or communications which do not elicit an obvious negative reaction at the time, but which cumulatively can make others feel bad about themselves.”

Examples of this would be giving your boss a hard time about their appearance even though you know that’s not what they’re looking for. Or telling someone that their jokes are lame or rude before they’ve finished telling them. You’re wrong for this because there is no need to point out mistakes when the person trying really hard – implying that your judgement cannot be questioned and just always assume you were right.

Microtraumas are frequently overlooked, yet they have a major impact on psychological wellbeing. When people feel they have been emotionally wronged or physically mistreated, their response can be to refuse to re-engage with the environment and withdraw from interactions with others. They may also experience symptoms of PTSD such as flashbacks and nightmares.

In therapy, a therapist can help by creating an accepting space for clients to reflect on what has happened; examine their beliefs about themselves and the world; develop coping skills; support them through memories that trigger strong emotions; repair any damage done in relationships with friends or family members as well as relational conflicts (within work environments); and use the process of exploring difficult memories as a way towards understanding oneself.

Last Updated on December 12, 2022 by Lucas Berg


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