This season of Grey's Anatomy focuses on various mental health-related issues and topics along with their biggest battle since the loss of Mc Dreamy, the Covid-19 Pandemic. Specifically, we watch Joe struggle during some flashback episodes where EMDR is used to process her complex trauma. So what exactly is EMDR?
What is EMDR?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This is a specific type of therapy that was created to help process complex trauma. Since its creation there has been a lot of research conducted on its efficacy and applications. EMDR therapy can now be used for several different mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and complicated grief. It utilizes bi-lateral stimulation (via eye movement, buzzers, tapping or audio tone) to activate both sides of the brain in processing difficult experiences. This type of therapy can be intense, so taking a detailed history and ensuring a period of stabilization prior to the processing work is imperative to ensure the safety of the client. We also utilize grounding and relaxation strategies to help the client regain a sense of calmness after the processing work is complete and between sessions.
In this type of therapy, we focus on different aspects of a particular memory, such as related thoughts, images, memories, emotions and body sensations. We work to desensitize a memory, to essentially ‘take the sting out of it’, and to help this memory become part of the long-term storage in our brains. It is a complex modality, which can be difficult to explain, thus I will attach some additional resources to the end of this article if you are interested in knowing more.
What do you mean by ‘trauma’?
Many people think of trauma as a major life event in which a person’s life was in danger. This is absolutely true, however there are many other different types of trauma that aren’t often classified in this way. Within a trauma informed lens, we sometimes call it ‘big-T-trauma’ and ‘little-t-trauma’.
‘Big-T-trauma’ is often all or some of the following: direct, violent, overwhelming, scary, and/or life-threatening. These are stand-out major events in a person’s life.
However, there is also a significant impact on a person from ‘little-t-trauma’. This type of trauma is often more subtle, possibly indirect, and harder to pinpoint at times. ‘Little-t-trauma’ can be related to interpersonal relationships with family or friends, can be from bullying, harassment or neglect, grief/loss, as well as from a myriad of other things. Some people will experience both types of trauma, and it can be cumulative over a lifetime. When I explain the concept of trauma to my clients, I often say that it is anything that has happened in your life that has left a mark or stands out in your mind. It is more about how you responded to the event, than what the actual event was. Through this discussion we can explore together what trauma work needs to be done to help the client to process these experiences.
What does EMDR do?
EMDR therapy is a fairly quick and effective way to reduce/eliminate present day triggers. When a person becomes activated in the present (emotions, intrusive images or thoughts, body responses), this is usually related to trauma from their past. Through this type of therapy, we can alter the brain’s relationship with these memories to provide relief to the client and allow for increased functioning within their day-to-day life. Thanks to technology advances, this type of therapy can now also be done online if you are unable to attend therapy in person.
EMDR Canada: https://emdrcanada.org/about/
EMDR International Association (includes a video on EMDR therapy): https://www.emdria.org/about-emdr-therapy
NWO’s source for all things relationships, mental health, wellness, lifestyle, and pandemic support. Kelly Magazine is a mental health outreach initiative created by Kelly Mental Health and supported by Kelly Mental Health Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the community in the area of mental health.
In support of @kellymentalhealthfndn
© COPYRIGHT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. WEB DESIGN BY KMH