Controlling Memories Before They Control You
The Counseling Team International Supports Method
Severe physical wounds may heal eventually, but untreated psychological wounds can linger, or resurface if triggered. That’s the lesson firefighter/paramedic Ben Vernon learned when he survived a violent knife attack while on duty in June 2015. Ben developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and we detailed his ordeal in our March 7, 2016 blog post. He revealed that his screams, sweats and nightmares finally ended when he underwent Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), an integrative psychotherapy that The Counseling Team International also provides.
When emotional trauma occurs, the brain shuts down and goes into automatic overload. The brain then stores this emotional trauma without processing it – at the time.
Later, anxiety from this event can manifest itself in a number of ways, such as sweats. loss of sleep, difficulty with personal relationships, angry outbursts, fear and angst at work and at home.
EMDR eliminates or alleviates these symptoms in many people. In fact, it is recognized as a highly effective therapy by the American Psychiatric Association, as well as the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Through EMDR therapy, patients are able to “reprogram” their devastating event until it no longer wields any power over them.
The treatment has been shown to be quite effective in the treatment of traumas and negative life experiences and has been noted to be the standard of treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by the American Psychiatric Association. In essence, the EMDR process taps into the traumatic memory and allows processing to take place in order to form more adaptive memories in relation to the trauma. When the treatment is completed new learning occurs, emotional distress is eliminated, and the individual has formed new cognitive insights (EMDR Institute, Inc.).
For instance, an assault victim, such as Ben Vernon, may finally conclude that he was an innocent victim of his knife attack. It makes no sense to feel blame or shame because of it.
EMDR therapists typically use a standard eight-session phase approach; however, each case is unique. The treatment includes the use of dual stimulation (eye movement, tapping, tones) while the individual focuses on various parts of the trauma.
Between sets of eye movements, the individual is asked to describe what he is experiencing. He also learns soothing techniques to regain total control. Eventually, the person transforms from victim to victor. He or she can eventually cope well with memories of the troubling event and put it into proper perspective.
Fortunately, Ben now meets each day’s challenges with a renewed sense of purpose: and recently shared his story at the Public Safety Peer Support Association Conference on September 15, 2016.
The Counseling Team International (TCTI ) encourages anyone who may need help, to contact their Peer Support Representative, Employee Assistance Program or Supervisor. Or call TCTI at 909-884-0133 for further help.