NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mind-Body Connection: EMDR Therapy Can Help Resolve Emotional Problems Rooted in Childhood Trauma

In a prior article, EMDR: Resolving Childhood Trauma to Lead a More Fulfilling Life as an Adult, I discussed how childhood emotional trauma is often at the root of problems that people experience later on as adults, often without people being aware of it.

Mind-Body Connection: EMDR Therapy Can Help Resolve Emotional Problems Rooted in Childhood Trauma

In that article, I discussed a vignette, which was a composite of many cases, where Ina, a therapy client, kept entering into romantic relationships with men who drained her emotionally and financially to the point where she was in emotional and financial crisis.

As I mentioned, when she started therapy, she had no understanding of how her childhood emotional history was repeating itself over and over again in her adult life.  But with the help of EMDR therapy she was able to not only make connections between her childhood history and her current problems but also work through the original trauma that was repeating itself in her current life.

How Emotional Problems in Adulthood Are Often Rooted in Childhood Trauma
In the example that I gave in my article, EMDR: Resolving Childhood Trauma to Lead a More Fulfilling Life as an Adult, Ina, without understanding why, kept getting involved with men that she kept trying to "rescue" and who were emotionally and financially dependent upon her.

How Emotional Problems in Adulthood Are Often Rooted in Childhood Trauma

What Ina didn't understand was that she was unconsciously repeating her childhood history with a father, who would lose one job after another because of his alcoholism.

After Ina's mother got fed up and left Ina's father, taking 12 year old Ina and her 10 year old brother with her, Ina would worry a lot about her father and what would become of him.  When she saw him, she would offer him whatever money she saved up from her allowance.  They would both pretend that it was only a loan, but Ina knew that her father wouldn't pay her back.

By the time Ina was 13, her father was living in a halfway house because he had alienated all of his relatives and friends because he continued to drink and never pay back the money that he borrowed.

Whenever Ina saw her father collecting bottles and cans from the trash, she felt like her heart would break.  She would immediately turn around and go the other way so he wouldn't see her and feel humiliated.

One day, when Ina was with a friend, her friend said to her, "Isn't that your father?" and Ina, who felt ashamed, denied it.  Afterwards, Ina went home and felt even more ashamed of herself for being embarrassed to acknowledge her father.

By the time Ina was 17, her father died from alcohol poisoning.  It was a tremendous loss for Ina.  Even though she knew logically that it wasn't her fault, on an emotional level, she felt like it was her fault.  On an emotional level, she felt she could have done more for him to help him.

EMDR and the "Float Back" to Earlier Trauma
In EMDR, there's a concept known as the "float back" technique where a therapy client uses the emotions and internal experiences, including where the client feels the emotions in his or her body, to connect current trauma to earlier trauma.  The "float back" technique is similar to the Affect Bridge in clinical hypnosis (also known as hypnotherapy).

During one of her EMDR sessions, Ina was able to connect her current emotional problems of attempting to "rescue" her current and prior boyfriends to her earlier memory of trying to "rescue" her father.

EMDR and the "Float Back" to Earlier Trauma

When Ina had a felt sense of this connection, it was a powerful experience for her.  As we continued to use EMDR to work on her earlier trauma related to her father, over time, she was able to work through the original childhood trauma that was getting triggered in her current life.

Once Ina was able to work through the original trauma, she was no longer affected by her early history, and she had healthier relationships.

I've used the EMDR "float back" technique with most EMDR clients and it usually becomes clear to clients how the original trauma is driving his or her current problems.  At that point, the client can work through the original trauma that acts like an emotional trigger in his or her current life and this helps to resolve both past and current problems.

EMDR and the Mind-Body Connection
When therapy clients are able to connect their current emotional experiences, including making the mind-body connection of where they feel these emotions in their bodies, it helps them to connect to earlier trauma related to current problems.

Often, there are multiple traumatic experiences that act as emotional triggers in the present.  EMDR is most effective when the EMDR therapist can get to the earliest experience.

Are You Struggling With Emotional Problems That You Don't Understand?
EMDR helps clients to get to earlier experiences that often remain unconscious during regular talk therapy.

Many clients are relieved to finally be able to make sense of their current problems and realize that they are rooted in earlier experiences.  They're even more relieved to have a way to work through these problems so they're no longer triggered in the present.

Getting Help in Therapy
Your early history doesn't have to keep repeating in your life.

Getting Help:  Your Early History Doesn't Have to Keep Repeating Itself in Your Life

EMDR therapy can help you to work through your past and present problems so that you can lead a more fulfilling life.

About Me:
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many therapy clients to overcome traumatic experiences so they can lead happier lives.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.