By Sarah C. Smith-Trawick, LCSW-C
EMDRIA Approved Consultant
Have you noticed how trauma seems to be everywhere these days?
By now, most clinicians are familiar with “Big T” traumas such as a car accident, an assault, a natural disaster, or even the death of a significant person in your life.
Are you familiar with “Small t” traumas which could include the loss of a job, a divorce, or infidelity in a romantic relationship?
Traumatic events can also include other persistent adverse experiences including poverty, neglect, community or household violence, and growing up in a home where a caregiver suffers from mental health challenges or substance abuse. We each have our own unique ways of responding to events that overwhelm our system. These events (or series of events) can sometimes alter our worldview and our view of ourselves. What is traumatic to one person may not be considered traumatic to another person. Additionally, while we all might experience symptoms of acute stress as we adjust in the aftermath of the traumatic event(s), not everyone will develop the long terms effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a diagnostic label for the set of criteria that reflect one’s difficulty in the aftermath of traumatic events.
PTSD signs and symptoms include but are not limited to the presence of any of the following symptoms as they relate to the sufferer’s traumatic event(s):
Negative alterations of cognition and mood associated with the traumatic event(s):
Alterations in reactivity and arousal states:
Not everyone experiences the same proportion of symptoms. For example, in my clinical work, I have noticed that people experience more symptoms in the last two categories when they have experienced persistent, ongoing adverse circumstances and abuse in childhood, thus often leading providers to miss the origin of their mental health symptoms and leave their PTSD untreated.
My answer to this question has always been “as soon as possible.” The timing of “as soon as possible” includes factoring in the client's readiness to seek help as well as the availability of an EMDR-trained clinician.
EMDR-trained clinicians are uniquely positioned to provide treatment that includes addressing somatic manifestations of trauma symptoms.
No, it isn’t, but at a minimum, clients should be looking for a clinician who is able to address, and heal, somatic symptoms of trauma. As an EMDR therapist, I have seen how early intervention can prevent symptoms of PTSD from lingering when EMDR is provided shortly after a traumatic event.
I have also seen how those who have suffered from PTSD symptoms for years have also experienced significant alleviation of symptoms when they were finally able to connect with an EMDR therapist with the robust tools needed in order to support stabilization (think Phase 2 of EMDR) and the ability to titrate Phases 4-8 (think EMDR, EMD, pendulation, etc). If you have not already completed a Basic Training course in EMDR, please join us at one of our upcoming sessions!
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