The therapists at the Hazel Counseling Center are trained in multiple treatment methods to help people get relief from symptoms of PTSD. Most trauma that is unresolved becomes stored in the central nervous which includes both the mind and the body. Thoughts, feelings and physical sensations related to the original event all become opportunities to understand what needs to be processed in order to restore a better sense of well being. There are a variety of ways to do this therapeutically. Below are a few of those options. Please call and one of our therapists would be happy to help you identify an approach that you will feel comfortable with!
What is Brainspotting
Brainspotting (BSP) is a technique used to process difficult life experiences that remain unresolved with verbal processing or talk therapy. A brainspot is a specific eye gaze or place in the visual field that is correlated to physical and emotional distress and discomfort when recalling or remembering difficult or traumatic experiences.
Naturally we look around as we talk, and brainspotting optimizes this as it gives us helpful information about how the brain stores experiences. A brainspotting session begins by first talking about the troubling situation or trauma, then noticing sensations in the body associated with this awareness. An eye gaze direction or location in the visual field is identified as it correlates to physical sensations by intentionally tracking eye direction and related feelings.
This process aids the client and therapist to access emotional content stored in the central nervous system that is otherwise difficult to access with talk therapy alone. Highly charged emotions are common with difficult, frightening, and traumatic experience. However, emotional and physical experience are stored in a different region of the brain than we ordinarily use for language. This means that when a visual eye gaze is located, there is an opportunity for resolution and a transformation of the original experience.
An equally important part of the BSP technique is the therapist’s awareness to not only what is being said, but also the apparent nonverbal process and emotion of the person working through the experience. The therapist’s presence offers support and compassion while reducing feelings of loneliness that often accompany traumatic memory. Often when the experience is reprocessed, the support of a caring person is an additional way to reconnect with emotions, placing them in the past and creating a sense of increased freedom in everyday life.
There are several ways to approach a brainspotting session that can be accommodated to the person’s comfort level and preference. For this reason, the approach and technique are very client centered and empowering. The person who is processing is in charge of their own experience.
More helpful links about Brainspotting, and other related topics, under the Links & Resources tab!
What is Somatic Experiencing Therapy?
The SE approach offers a framework to assess where a person is "stuck" in the fight, flight, and freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states. It is a body oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other anxiety and stress disorders. The SE approach releases traumatic shock which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and developmental attachment trauma for all stages of development.
The science behind the SE approach is that trauma or chronic stress may begin as acute stress from perceived life threat or as the end product of cumulative stress (i.e. on going abuse or neglect). Both types of stress can seriously impair a person's ability to function with resilience and ease. Trauma may result from a wide variety of stressors such as accidents, invasive medical procedures, sexual or physical assault, emotional abuse, neglect, war, natural disasters, loss, or the corrosive stressors of ongoing fear and conflict.
How It Works: The SE approach facilitates the completion of self-protective motor responses and the release of thwarted survival energy trapped in the body, thus addressing the root cause of trauma symptoms. This approach gently guides clients to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.
The SE approach was developed by Dr. Peter Levine. Please visit www.traumahealing.org to learn more.
What is EMDR?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a therapy that is used to treat a variety of disorders using bilateral brain stimulation to help process painful memories. It is most famously known for its use by military clinicians for its role in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and it is one of five therapeutic modalities approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) for treating PTSD.
How does it work?
EMDR works very similarly to REM sleep, which is when our brain sorts through and organizes memories. By using bilateral stimulation (eye movements, buzzers or taps for tactile stimulation, music or tones that alternate speakers), the memory networks of the brain are awakened. We are then able to reprocess painful memories in a way that makes sense to us, thus, easing the emotional (and sometimes physical) pain that is associated with them.
What can it help with?
EMDR has been proven successful in relieving the symptoms of trauma, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, eating disorders, panic attacks, complicated grief, and even addiction.
For more information about EMDR, click the link below then click the tab labeled “Resources.”