What causes PTSD?

  • Shock (acute) trauma: loosely defined as a single-episode traumatic event.
    • Sexual assault, witnessing a violent event, being in a car accident, physical assault, combat related trauma, medical trauma, natural disaster, traumatic loss, school violence, etc.
  • Chronic Trauma: an event that happens over and over and over again or it may be a multiple layering of events.
    • Ongoing abuse and/or neglect, domestic violence, human trafficking, recurring illness, multiple natural disasters, multiple car accidents, multiple medical procedures, community violence, racial trauma, bullying, terrorism, etc.


How does trauma affect people?

  • Social and behavioral problems
    • Relationship difficulties
    • risky sexual behavior
    • aggression and criminal behaviors
  • Impaired psychological health throughout the lifespan
    • PTSD
    • Depression
    • Panic Disorder
    • Recurring nightmares
    • Substance use/abuse
    • Suicide attempts
    • Anger, Anxious Arousal, and Shame Symptoms
    • Adults with 4 or more ACES are 7.3 times more likely to have at least one diagnosis from each of the following 4 types of disorders:
      • mood
      • anxiety
      • impulse control
      • substance abuse disorders
  • Cognitive and academic problems
    • Low IQ and reading scores
    • Delayed language and cognitive development
    • Poor academic performance
  • Neuropsychological alterations
    • Emotional regulation
    • Emotional control
    • Poor judgment
    • Poor problem solving
  • Impaired physical health
  • Increased chance of lower socioeconomic status
  • Increased risk of childhood mortality or early death

Two Treatment Modalities:

EMDR is the only intervention that allows an individual to reprocess memories and events.  Reprocessing means that an individual accesses the relevant memory and uses dual awareness with bilateral stimulation and images, thoughts, emotions and body sensations to move through the traumatic experiences that aren’t resolved. If storing memories is like putting away groceries, a traumatic event was stored by shoving a bunch of stuff in a cabinet and then any time it gets opened all the stuff falls on your head.  EMDR allows you to pull everything out in a controlled manner and then put it away in the organized way that non-traumatic memories are stored.

  • EMDR is highly recommended for individuals who have developmental or complex trauma, but also has evidence-based protocols for single incident trauma.
  • EMDR has 8 phases of treatment, the first three of which don’t involve any bilateral stimulation, and are more about skills-building and resourcing in preparation for the processing phases.

Somatic Experiencing is a holistically oriented therapy which integrates the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of each of us. It accomplishes this by helping us to become aware of our bodies and the sensations we experience through them. When our mind can be so busy with worries, schedules and concerns, our body’s awareness and breathing can help us to focus on what we are experiencing in the moment. It is so easy for our mind to get lost in what has happened in the past or what will happen in the future. When we take the time to focus, we can become aware of those places where we are “holding.” That is, we can recognize those places where we are tight, sore or uncomfortable. It may be our stomach, shoulders, neck or head or any other area of our body that we realize is tight or uncomfortable. We may not have even known of our discomfort until we stopped and paid attention.



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