ptsd and complex trauma symptomsPost-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) can have a ripple effect on your life.  Navigating PTSD and complex trauma symptoms requires effort and intention. This is often true even long after the trauma has occurred.

However, the effects of that trauma continue to emerge through PTSD symptoms.

If you have experienced complex trauma, which is trauma that occurs repeatedly, then certainly it will have a negative impact on your life. That is… unless you receive treatment for your PTSD and complex trauma symptoms.

If you suffer from PTSD due to complex trauma, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) could be helpful.

Why Use EMDR with Complex Trauma and PTSD?

EMDR involves using what’s called bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or tapping, left to right. The goal of this form of therapy is to allow your brain to reprocess the trauma and become less sensitive to the feelings and emotions connected to the memories of the event.

Keep in mind that, at first, when you have PTSD it may not be easy to address complex trauma symptoms. A therapist trained in EMDR completely understand this. It’s not something that can be fixed in one therapy session.

Over time, though, during the course of multiple sessions, it will get easier to recall your traumatic memories without the disturbing emotions and sensations attached. How so?

With trauma, in general, the brain remains in a state of heightened vigilance long after the event has occurred. This is actually a defensive mechanism. After all, your brain wants to ensure that you stay alive and safe. Therefore, it will remain on alert for threats for some time after the traumatic event.

What this means for complex trauma and its symptoms is that it does take more time for the process to work to take place. Why is that?

The reason is simple, with complex trauma symptoms there are more traumatic events to work through. The word “complex” means that you were exposed to multiple (perhaps ongoing) traumatic experiences. For example, you may have had a difficult childhood filled with abuse. Or maybe you either witnessed or directly experienced trauma on a daily basis.

That much trauma will take time to unpack and sort through. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make progress. Through EMDR therapy you can help your brain to eventually “stand-down,” sort-to-speak, and not continuously sound the alert.

How Does EMDR Affect the Brain?

Research has found that during EMDR sessions the brain is more active. The specific areas of the brain that are in this active state include the prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex.

This is important because:

  • The prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning, organizing, focusing, personality, and impulse control.
  • The orbitofrontal cortex controls your emotions and how you interact with other people.
  • The anterior cingulate cortex also works to regulate impulse control, as well as empathy and judgment

Therefore, your brain isn’t just sitting idly by during an EMDR session. Instead, it is actively working to process and resolve the trauma and its connected emotions.

What Is the Best Way to Make Use of EMDR?

Be sure you work with an EMDR therapist who is trained in the technique and understands both PTSD and complex trauma symptoms.

While EMDR may seem to be a somewhat strange therapeutic approach, a skilled therapist will help you through the EMDR technique, step-by-step. They will also provide emotional support as you delve into memories of your past that you’ve probably kept closed-off for a long time.

Working through complex trauma may be hard at first, but it’s worth being able to finally resolve it and its symptoms. Of course, it’s important to acknowledge it won’t be easy. And that’s why participating in counseling will improve your chances of success.

In the end, EMDR therapy really does hold the promise of finding relief from PTSD and complex trauma symptoms. There’s nothing “magic” about it. But it’s been scientifically shown to work and have lasting results.

If you’re interested in knowing more about EMDR therapy and about my specific approach to it in connecting with complex trauma and PTSD, please feel free to contact me or click on the link.