Trauma Therapy and EMDR
In 2013, a Criminal Minds episode aired that featured the search for a serial killer that kidnapped nannies and the children that they were caring for. In this episode, titled “Nanny Dearest,” one of the women escapes and is tasked with giving any and all details that she can remember to the FBI so that they can rescue the child that is still missing. The nanny is clearly traumatized, so one of the agents decides to try EMDR therapy on her to trigger any memories hiding in her brain.
At first glance, EMDR therapy just seems like a fake tool that is used to entertain the viewers. In fact, EMDR therapy is real, and it is used in many clinical settings to provide treatment for patients that have suffered a great trauma.
EMDR Therapy stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. EMDR Therapy sometimes involves a flashing light moving from side to side in order to create rhythmic eye movement in a patient. At the same time, the patient is asked to recall the traumatic events in question. This is what occurred in the episode.
At first the woman appears to resist the memories that are flooding back. Eventually, she recalls the events of her kidnapping, and in the process heals some of her lasting trauma by assisting in the investigation. The episode has a happy ending. Through the use of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, the FBI agents are able to learn vital information that leads to saving the missing boy and capturing the perpetrator. Once again, the Behavioral Analysis Unit prevails against evil and return to Quantico knowing they saved several lives.
Though the term ‘trauma therapy’ is relatively new, the idea has been around for a long time. People have been dealing with trauma in their lives for all of human history, but we are just recently starting to understand how to treat it. Trauma occurs when an event has a lasting negative impact on someone’s mental well-being. It can stem from events such as the death of a family member or close friend, a car accident, witnessing a terror, or being assaulted.
When a person witnesses a catastrophic event, or something life-changing, it can feel impossible to move on. The trauma consumes their life and they sometimes can’t shake the feeling of being back in the same exact situation. Chris Kyle, the famous “American Sniper,” was killed when doing work helping a man suffering from PTSD. The man who killed both Kyle and another marine that was present had been in a mental hospital several times over the years and was diagnosed with PTSD. When a mental illness is not treated properly, it can be fatal. Not only fatal for the one suffering but anyone around them as well. PTSD also makes it hard for soldiers to be around loud noises and flashes of light because it triggers memories of wartime.
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, occurs when something traumatic happens in one’s life and the memory keeps coming back. A person will have extreme anxiety about events that have happened in the past. They will often be triggered and sometimes think that they are back at the time of the event or the same traumatic event is occurring once again. PTSD is common in soldiers and victims of sexual assault.
Doctors and medical health professionals are constantly coming up with new methods for treating trauma in their patients. This includes various cognitive behavioral therapy technique, Dialectical behavior therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Other forms of trauma therapy include exposure therapy, group therapy, and cognitive processing therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques
There are many different forms of cognitive therapy techniques used when doctors provide treatment for trauma in their patients. According to Mayo Clinic, CBT is only done for a limited number of sessions. This website makes the claim that cognitive behavioral therapy techniques makes patients aware of inaccurate or false information and causes patients to challenge situations and learn properly ways to respond to them. CBT can not only be used to treat PTSD and trauma in patients, but depression and eating disorders as well.
Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is most typically a combination of individual and group therapy. Psychology Today reports that DBT is both cognitive and behavioral therapy. They also say that DBT creates a safe and controlled place for patients to learn how to combat their negative behavior and deal with the emotions associated with situations that are triggering.
When it comes to trauma-based therapy treatment options, doctors and patients are constantly learning. If you or a loved one has ever suffered a great trauma or loss, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about eye movement desensitization and reprocessing or other forms of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. If you have suffered a trauma and you aren’t talking to a professional about it, it may be time to start thinking about it. Help is out there for victims of traumatic events, and it does work. Don’t let the past hold you back any longer. Seek the help you deserve.