CA Licensed Psychologist PSY 22360
Anxiety is the body and mind’s way to respond to threatening things in our environment. It can take the form of worry, fear, or even terror and panic. Anxiety makes us want to avoid people, places or situations that are scary or threatening. For example, people who are scared of judgment from others avoid situations in which they will be exposed to that judgment, like social gatherings, public speaking or intimate relationships. Typical fears that I have worked with include fear of judgment, fear of being trapped in places from which escape would be difficult or embarrassing, fear of being physically harmed, fear of having a panic attack, fear of death, fear of becoming fat, and fear of contamination. If you find yourself systematically avoiding certain people or activities, it is likely because you are afraid of those things, which is called anxiety.
Trauma is a deeply disturbing event or experience. There are two types of trauma that I work with. The first is called “Capital T Trauma,” and includes life threatening events such as car accidents, violent encounters, and sexual molestation or assault. Capital T Trauma is stored in a disjointed, vivid and confusing way in our memories. The other type of trauma I work with is called “Little t trauma.” This type of trauma is chronic mistreatment by caregivers or other important figures and can take the form of criticism, emotional abuse, verbal abuse or neglect. Both types of trauma have a major impact on our nervous systems. Trauma impacts the way we see ourselves, as well as the way we relate to other people and the world in general. It often results in negative core beliefs about ourselves, such as: “I am bad,” “I am dirty,” or “I am not important.”
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence based treatment for a wide variety of mental health concerns. It is a structured treatment that is goal oriented. Primarily, it is used to process through traumatic or disturbing memories in order to make those memories less disturbing and decrease the impact of past trauma on current symptoms. For example, if a person survived abuse as a child, they may have a core negative belief about themself that they are “worthless.” Using EMDR, we would identify the traumatic experiences they had that taught them to think that way about themself and then reprocess those memories in order for her to experience healing, compassion and wholeness. They would enhance their inner resources of compassion, protectiveness, and wisdom in order to have a corrective emotional experience related to these memories, which leaves a permanent mark on their nervous system so that they can now see themself as “valuable.” While they will never forget the disturbing memories, they can look back on them without feeling disturbed and have a new way of relating to themself with love and understanding, which will help with their current functioning and improve their mental health.
To read further information about what EMDR sessions are like, as well as the research supporting the effectiveness of EMDR, please visit the EMDR International Association Webpage.
To watch a video promoting EMDR therapy, please visit this link.
Jessica Farber, Psy.D.