When a traumatic or very negative event occurs, information processing may be incomplete, perhaps because strong negative feelings or dissociation interfere with information processing. This prevents the forging of connections with more adaptive information that is held in other memory networks. For example, a victim of assault may “know” that their attacker is responsible for their crimes, but this information does not connect with their feelings and they may feel somewhat responsible for the attack. The memory is then dysfunctionally stored with many elements still unprocessed. When the individual thinks about the trauma, or when the memory is triggered by similar situations, the person may feel like they are reliving it, or may experience strong emotions and physical sensations.
It is not only major traumatic events, or “large-T Traumas” that can cause psychological disturbance. Sometimes a relatively minor event from childhood, such as being teased by one’s peers or disparaged by one’s parent, may not be adequately processed. Such “small-t traumas” can result in future problems.
EMDR is one of the primary approaches to treat trauma that has been approved by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the department of Defence. In British Columbia it is supported by ICBC and Worksafe. I have been using this tool for trauma interventions for over 20 years.
For more information see http://www.EMDR.com or contact me to see if this approach may be useful for you.