What We Treat
Stress is a feeling of physical, mental, or emotional overwhelm resulting from one’s perception that they’re unable to cope with physical, mental, or emotional pressure. Our ability to respond adaptively to life stressors determines how impactful those stressors will be on our physical and mental health. Generally, our response to stress is informed by past experiences that are similar. When past experiences are not processed properly in the brain, we learn maladaptive ways of coping with stress. EMDR is utilized to treat past memories that are informing present reactions to stress, as well as treating current stressors and preparing for potential future stressors.
A phobia is a persistent, excessive fear of certain objects or situations. They most commonly involve animals (dogs, snakes, spiders, etc.), natural environments (heights, water, thunder, etc.), situations (driving, flying, elevators, etc.) blood/injury/injections (needles, seeing blood, etc.), and other types of phobias (choking, vomiting, contracting an illness, etc.). Phobias often result in extreme efforts to avoid the feared object or situation, and/or the situation is endured with significant anxiety and distress. There is often a conditioning event that sparks the development of a phobia. EMDR treats phobias by targeting previous encounters with phobic objects or situations, as well as preparing clients for potential future encounters.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - PTSD is a mental health disorder that some people develop after exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence. PTSD is only one of many mental health conditions that develop as a result of exposure to chronic or single incident traumatic experiences. Depression, Anxiety, and Panic Disorder are examples of other mental health conditions that may arise from exposure to trauma. Symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and/or images, poor sleep, avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event, mood lability, and negative cognitions.
Single Incident Trauma - Single incident traumas are typically a big event that happens once, such as a car accident, sexual assault, natural disaster, medical diagnosis, war zone experience, or other violent crime. Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. originally created EMDR to treat PTSD. It has since been used successfully to treat a wide variety of mental health disorders.
Complex Trauma - Complex trauma is the repeated exposure to non-life threatening, adverse life experiences over an extended period of time. The adverse experiences often begin in childhood and typically involve attachment relationships (caregivers, siblings, family friends, etc.). Neglect, sexual/physical/emotional abuse, “hot and cold” affection from a caregiver, and repeated exposure to bullying and social exclusion are examples of complex trauma.
People who have experienced complex trauma often report symptoms of aggression, lying, manipulation, self-harm, unstable identity, addiction, frequent conflict in relationships, knee-jerk reactions, anger outbursts, jealous behavior, dissociation, frantic reactions to perceived abandonment, and myriad other things.
EMDR therapy reduces reactivity and is often used to reprocess the psychological baggage and traumas that can accumulate in relationships. It is helpful in alleviating the distress that partners feel from trust issues, infidelity, hurtful comments, and other relational traumas. Couples seek counseling for a variety of reasons, including preventative measures, betrayal, religious and political differences, blending families, communication issues, and sexual dysfunction. Generally, couples therapy at Southern NH EMDR & Counseling Services incorporates EMDR into more traditional therapeutic approaches to desensitize/reduce reactivity, foster connection and intimacy, and build effective communication skills.
According to the World Health Organization (2021), about 280 million people suffer from depressive disorders worldwide. It is one of the most common mental health conditions and can significantly impact one’s quality of life. There is a close relationship between depression and stressful events. Exposure to trauma, humiliation, loss, and household dysfunction increases the risk of developing depression. We have a tendency to create meaning and negative beliefs from adverse life experiences. Pathogenic memories of these experiences can lead to a variety of mental health conditions, including depression. Irritability, anger outbursts, sleep disturbances, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, sad/low mood, emptiness, lack of energy and motivation, weight gain or loss, and feelings of guilt or hopelessness are some of the symptoms of depression.
Many mental health issues are caused by adverse life experiences that get stored maladaptively in our brains and labeled as dangerous. This often results in developing hypervigilance to threat. Since the brain is trying to protect itself from further distressing events, it encodes adverse experiences in a way that enables quick response and reaction to actual or perceived threat. When situations arise that remind us of past experiences, our bodies quickly mobilize into a fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response. You may or may not remember the initial experience that was recorded in the brain as a blueprint for future reactions to distressing experiences. EMDR it utilized to treat the distressing memories that are fueling your anxiety.