Twelve Things Most EMDR Trauma Therapists Understand Deeply

  • You do not need to tell the story of your trauma to someone to heal.  You don’t ever have to find the right words in the right order.  Much of trauma is nonsensible and unspeakable and learning to speak it makes it easier to talk about, but not necessarily less burdensome to carry.  A good trauma therapist is a good listener, but is acutely aware that listening alone is not enough.
  • It’s all trauma.  Most depression and most anxiety come from wounding and our strategies for surviving that wounding.  This life is wounding for everyone.  Yes, life is much more wounding for some of us than others.  If you are fortunate to live well enough and long enough, you’ll eventually lose everything that your young heart loved… and that also is trauma.
  • The problem isn’t how you are thinking about your trauma.  It’s about how and where the wounds are held in the brain and in the nervous system.  EMDR therapists understand the tax that people with trauma pay to exist.  More importantly, we understand how memories might quickly and fully move from the fixed lava hot parts of the brain into “normal” memory.
  • The self is made of many parts. Every part is trying to help you, even the parts that are making your life most unmanageable.  Resistance isn’t a particularly useful concept in trauma recovery.
  • You don’t have to remember what happened to you for you to heal. We know how even the voids can heal.
  • Trauma makes survival strategies necessary.  Survival strategies helped you survive.  We won’t blame you for how you survived, even while we explore the costs you continue to pay for surviving that way.
  • Dissociation is as common as anxiety, anger, and depression in a traumatized nervous system. We can show you strategies to be more present when you need to be or want to be.
  • When healing comes, it comes to you.  There is remarkably little to figure out.  You do not have to put the right pieces in the right order.  In fact, many of the things that you have burned yourself up trying to answer are likely to lose a lot of their urgency when deep healing comes.
  • All healing happens in the present. The past is accessed with both feet and nervous system planted in the present.
  • People traumatize us.  But, cultures seem to traumatize us profoundly as well.  Families are cultures.  Schools are cultures.  Cities are cultures.  Our local and broader mental health systems are cultures. The same cultures that traumatize us also construct obstacles to healing.  Some of the largest blocks to healing are centered in the most culturally saturated of emotions: guilt, shame, blame, and responsibility. Helping to rescue the self from the past is a task that is culturally and politically saturated.
  • Events have a beginning, middle, and an end.  Traumatic events can profoundly disrupt a lifespan.  But, what wounds us the most—what cuts us deepest—are the things that didn’t happen that should have. We understand attachment wounding deeply and know how to rescue the self from the horrors and the existential loneliness of the past.  Many other therapists don’t know how to assess for or effectively treat the large and profound absences of things.
  • Your brain already knows how to heal.  It knows how to heal quickly and deeply using pathways that have been with us probably for as long as we have been human. Your EMDR therapist will help you navigate to this pathway and will accompany you while you heal.

New podcast by this author at: focused on working with complex trauma using EMDR Therapy.

2 thoughts on “Twelve Things Most EMDR Trauma Therapists Understand Deeply

  1. EMDR does go to the heart of trauma that is resistant to working with the mind, for example with traditional therapy and counseling. And this makes it a very useful tool. It has proven itself again and again.

    For me, much of my healing has been in the realm of the mystical world of energy healing. How this works is also by bypassing and transcending the existing patterns of thought and feeling – almost like a reset – a rebirth, an awakening, dissolving and being re-created anew.

    I have had a little EMDR and found that it shared this property of de-solidifying the old pattern so that a new one can be created.


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