Mindful Counseling for Complex Trauma: Anxiety, Shame, Stuckness
What we are about to undertake is an expedition together, a journey of discovery into the most secret recesses of our consciousness. And for such an adventure, we must travel light. We cannot burden ourselves with opinions, prejudices, conclusions — that is, with all the baggage that we have collected over the past two thousand years or more. Forget everything you know about yourself. Forget everything that you have thought about yourself. We are going to set off as if we know nothing.
~Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing – an approach empirically validated by numerous studies – was developed and founded by Francine Shapiro around 1990 as a safe and effective means of reincorporating traumatized parts of self into a more adaptive whole. It is now considered a first-line treatment for PTSD and has been adopted by both private and government organizations, including the Veterans Administration, as a relatively short-term approach to trauma recovery. [Click here to open the official EMDR website in a separate window.]
EMDR represents a new stage in integrative approaches and is considered one of the few directly ‘transformative’ therapies. Building on the Adaptive Information Processing model, it is designed to connect fear structures (or trauma states) to more adaptive parts of self. In essence, it is a recognition, while accessing fear, that resources are present, that you are indeed ‘okay’.
EMDR is not talk therapy. For the most part, it represents an internal process. Many that have experienced EMDR appreciate the fact that they do not have to talk about the trauma. The healing here, like every truly ‘transformative’ approach, relies on recognition of internal resources, on the realization that so many parts of you have been taking care of you all along.
“I call this process the alchemy of the dark emotions: knowing how to stay connected to the energy of painful emotions, to attend to and befriend it, to surrender to it, mindfully, without being overwhelmed. This is how we listen to the language of the heart.”
~ Miriam Greenspan, Healing Through the Dark Emotions
EMDR, through self-driven, structured access to old memory states, provides present, conscious access to the subconscious and to the vital core beliefs held there.
Potential (and expected) outcomes include…
Allowing Internal Experience
Corrective Experience (memory reconsolidation)
Changing Core Beliefs, Taking in the Good
Integrating Parts of Self
Elements of EMDR
Dual Awareness: focus on past memories and present neutral stimuli
Permission to Allow and Follow Internal Processing: ‘Go with that.’
Safety: consent and control over the process, preparation stages, recognition of present resources
Structure: EMDR presents a very defined container.
Objective Measures: The flow of EMDR is controlled by the ongoing ratings of the person experiencing EMDR.
Bipasses the Entanglement of Working Memory: One part of the brain stays occupied, freeing the individual to process long-term memory.
Focus on the Full Experience: Body, Thoughts, Emotions
“…To re-expose the patient, under more favorable circumstances, to emotional situations which he could not handle in the past. The patient, in order to be helped, must undergo a corrective emotional experience suitable to repair the traumatic influence of previous experiences…. Intellectual insight alone is not sufficient.”
~ Franz Alexander, one of the founders of psychosomatic medicine