So often I hear these words from my clients: “I just cannot get past this”.
The “this” that they are trying to move past can take on many forms. It can be something as severe as childhood abuse/trauma. Or, it can be something seemingly minor, like an embarrassing incident at work. Struggling to move forward is frustrating.
I would like to give a very brief explanation of what EMDR is and I will include a link which can provide more information. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a technique used to help people “reprocess” traumatic events. It is done in the office, and the client is asked to either follow the clinicians hand to produce back and forth eye movements, or by listening to bilateral tone or feeling bilateral taps. The idea is stimulate both sides of the client’s brain. The client is very awake and very conscious, and this is not hypnosis.
In EMDR circles they talk about Big T and Little t.
Big T refers to trauma in the sense that most of us understand it: major accidents, abuse, violent attacks, etc. Little t refers to trauma that we may not even think about. These include: being spoken to harshly, not having the support we need, arguments in important relationships, etc. It could be we suffer psychologically and do not even attribute our suffering to the little t, because it often gets much less attention than the big T.
Of course EMDR can help someone move through the Big T, but surprisingly it can also help with the little ts. If fact, it can even help identify little ts that the client may not even be aware of. In EMDR sessions clients have reported “making connections that they have never made before”. An example of this: A woman has a hard time at work taking orders from her female boss. Through EMDR sessions, the client realizes that how she feels at work reminds her of how she felt as a little girl when her mother would criticize her. Does this connection change her bosses attitude? Of course not. But, what it does do, is allows her to observe the issue more objectively, and not internalize the criticism as a total rejection.
EMDR can help with many different issues, and if you have any questions about the process, please do feel free to reach out to me. [email protected]
About the Author
Heidi Kalman, LCSW is a therapist at our Edison Park and Sauganash locations. Heidi works with adults, couples, and families. Heidi’s specialties include EMDR, anxiety, depression, and somatic symptoms. If you are interested in working with Heidi, send an email today!