Trauma Healing at Sunshine Coast Health Centre (Part 1): EMDR
Has Something Traumatic Occurred?
If something traumatic happened, it probably has had a big impact on you. Let’s talk about what’s next.
For the most part we usually all agree that trauma is often unavoidable. For example, we don’t always have the capacity to prevent injury and possible lifetime pain, we don’t have the power stop the sudden death of a loved one, we don’t always see the warning signs of a potential abuser, and we don’t know which rescue will push our psyche over the edge.
Most traumatic events also occur suddenly without warning, but there are also traumas that are the result of the lives we choose for ourselves (physical injury and occupational hazards). But, regardless of how or what happened, we are responsible for our healing. No one else can heal us, just like a diet, no one can lose the weight we want to shed. At Sunshine Coast Health Centre, we want to help you find your path to healing. We have one of the best trauma treatment programs here in British Columbia, as a result.
Being responsible for healing doesn’t mean we have to do it alone; we can be helped or supported along the way. How long trauma treatment takes is dependent on the individual as well as the treatment type since not all therapies are created equal and not all therapies work for everyone either. Since there isn’t yet a way to go back in time and stop the event from happening, nor is there a way to go ahead in time and magically be in a better mental and physical place, we have to learn to do what we can in the present.
One of the most common ways to help recover after a traumatic event is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). SCHC’s trauma program integrates EMDR into its clinical practice to help men start healing from their trauma(s). It is also a critical element in the
What is EMDR and How Can it Help?
EMDR is Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. The easy layperson’s way of explaining EMDR is that it’s a way pick up the Lego so you stop stepping on it, but it isn’t that simple. It is a way to relive the traumatic experience but in the safety of a therapist’s office so that you can work through the distressing parts to let them go, while also learning from the experience and keeping it stored so that it can assist you in future.
EMDR Canada describes it as the following “the goal of EMDR therapy is to process completely the experiences that are causing problems and to include new ones that are needed for full health. ‘Processing’ does not mean talking about it. ‘Processing’ means setting up a learning state that will allow experiences that are causing problems to be “digested” and stored appropriately in your brain. So what is useful to you from an experience will be learned, stored with appropriate emotions in your brain, and help guide you in positive ways in the future. The inappropriate emotions, beliefs, and body sensations will be discarded. Negative emotions, feelings, and behaviors are generally caused by unresolved earlier experiences that are pushing you in the wrong directions. The goal of EMDR therapy is to leave you with the emotions, understanding, and perspectives that will lead to healthy and useful behaviors and interactions.”
Our memories are subjective, meaning what I witness and experience may be wildly different from how another person experiences the identical event. Some people’s brains are capable of reacting and processing the events “normally,” while others end up having the event be fragmented and have little to no coherence. Many trauma survivors end up re-living and reinforcing their fragmented narrative (like a record that hits a bump) without being able to move on, alternatively, dissociation is another common response to trauma triggers.
Dissociation is basically “the lights are on but nobody is home”. We temporarily disconnect from our consciousness to protect ourselves from experiencing further distress. Neither of these coping methods are helpful to healing. It’s easier to explain it like little bits of Lego all over your brain and every now and then you step on it. We all know what stepping on a bit of Lego is like, it’s not fun and we wish we hadn’t. What I am trying to say is that the trauma brain went into a protection mode, but forgot to clean up afterward.
Where Can I Get Help?
If you have been struggling with Trauma, PTSD, and/or substance use then Sunshine Coast Health Centre might be the right place for you to heal at. There are a few therapists here who can help you recover using EMDR:
- Quyn Le Erichsen is trained to help people recover using EMDR.
- Sears Taylor is another clinician who can use EMDR to help you heal from your trauma as well
If SCHC is not the right program for you, then searching for therapists who are trained in EMDR may be another option for you. Below are some things you might want to consider before choosing a provider. If you are ready to seek out trauma treatment we advise you:
- Check out EMDR Canada to make sure your provider has completed the necessary training and is a member in good standing.
- Have a few regular sessions before trying EMDR to make sure the professional is someone you connect with and will see you through your healing. A reputable provider will not start EMDR until they know exactly what you want to work on.
- Ensure the professional has your preferred credentials (for benefits and/personal preferences)
- Decide you are ready to do the work of healing. Most people need multiple treatments using EMDR and may continue to need additional therapeutic supports afterward.
“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed, it means we no longer let it control our lives.”
– Akshay Dubey