By Rachel Harrison, LCPC
EMDRIA Approved Basic Trainer and Consultant
Almost weekly, I have a conversation with a therapist that goes something like this:
Me: I am so glad to hear you treat trauma. I’d love to learn more about your approach!
Therapist: Well, you know, as we are working in session, my clients talk through their traumas and we find new insights.
Me: Oh, okay, I was hoping to find therapists that use modalities other than talk therapy.
What I am thinking and want to say is, “Wrong answer!” We know trauma is stored in the limbic brain, so we need a method other than talk therapy to access the trauma.
Don’t get me wrong, I love therapy, and I love therapists! I believe all therapists do the best work they know how to do with their clients. But that’s just it: you can’t know what you don’t know.
The bottom line is talk therapy does not work to treat trauma. Trauma is stored in a different area of the brain. It’s also a body process, so it’s critical to utilize a type of therapy that involves the body in processing the trauma.
So, if you are a therapist using talk therapy to treat trauma, please consider adding something new to your toolbox. For me, EMDR therapy has proven to be an effective way to treat trauma over the years. I have seen so many great results for my patients and countless stories of other therapists leading their clients towards healing.
There is a difference between being trauma-informed versus treating trauma. Anyone can be trauma-informed in their approach, offering choices, and empowering clients. However, treating trauma means we can effectively help a client no longer experience distress when thinking about it. That means they are no longer triggered, having nightmares, or feeling like fighting, fleeing or freezing.
If you want to be a therapist who goes beyond supporting clients who have experienced trauma, I highly recommend you do a little research. Find an evidence-based approach, like EMDR therapy, and seek training opportunities. It is worth the cost and it is worth your time. It is worth your clients’ well-being!
Our world is full of individuals that have experienced trauma and need our expert skill set! Now more than ever, we need therapists who know how to treat trauma effectively.