Trauma & PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is Trauma?

When something traumatic happens, it can be hard to process what you have experienced or witnessed. The experience may be a recent, one-off or short event, or it could have happened a long time ago, and gone on for a long time. After any traumatic experience, you can question things that you have always believed, for instance you might no longer believe that the world is a safe place, or that people are generally good, or that you are in control of what happens to you. When people talk about their world being turned upside down after a traumatic event, it might mean these values or beliefs have been shattered.

  • being physically or sexually assaulted;
  • being in an accident of any kind;
  • Sudden onset of a serious or life threatening illness;
  • being involved in a conflict like a war or terrorist act, either as a military professional or a civilian;
  • being involved in a natural disaster, such as a fire, flood or similar;
  • witnessing a shocking event happening to someone else.

This experience continues to impact daily life through post-traumatic symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, distressing images or physical sensations, negative thoughts, feelings of guilt and shame, avoidance and emotional numbing. This can lead to the person becoming isolated and withdrawn, or feeling ‘on edge’ leading to irritability, angry outbursts, sleeping problems or difficulty concentrating. It sometimes leads to work-related problems and the breakdown of relationships.

Traumatic events are highly distressing and disturbing. While many people can recover on their own, for some the experience can lead to mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety or unhealthy coping/numbing strategies such as drinking, using drugs or medication, binge eating etc.

EMDR – An Effective Treatment for Trauma

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a highly effective psychotherapy to help people recover from trauma or adverse life experiences.

EMDR is based on an idea that the brain’s natural way of processing information gets blocked when traumatic or adverse events occur, causing these events to get locked in the brain with the original picture, sounds, smells, thoughts, feelings and body sensations. The experience doesn’t get efficiently processed like other memories and although the event may have happened months or years ago its intensity is never reduced.  

EMDR therapy is largely based on traditional psychological theories but has a unique element called “bi-lateral stimulation”.  What this means is very simply the Therapist will stimulate both sides of your brain simultaneously. This can be done with can be eye movements, but therapists might also use bi-lateral tones and/or tapping. These bi-lateral stimulations are similar to the processing that the human mind performs during REM sleep, when the eyes move rapidly back and forth.

How Exactly Does EMDR Help Resolve Trauma?

EMDR therapy with its bilateral stimulations works on helping the brain reprocess these traumatic memories, and can therefore help alleviate emotional and psychological disorders. EMDR differs from other therapies in that it is not necessary to talk about explicit details of the original experience, which can be very painful for the client.

With EMDR, the experience loses its intensity over the course of treatment, and becomes just another memory the client can access with appropriate levels of emotion but no distress.  Negative thoughts and feelings are replaced with positive thoughts and feelings that will encourage healthier behaviours as clients learn to handle stressful situations themselves, without their negative coping strategies.

EMDR therapy is recognised by the World Health Organisation as an effective treatment for both children and adults who have experienced traumatic events.

To watch an introduction to EMDR published on YouTube by the EMDR International Association :

For more information on EMDR, visit the EMDR Institute at www.emdr.com and the EMDR International Association at www.emdria.org

Aneta Maliszewska-Billingham, Clinical Psychologist and EMDR Practitioner   

Areas of Speciality: EMDR, Trauma, Anxiety, Depression, CBT, Mindfulness and Workplace Stress

Aneta has over 15 years of experience as a clinical psychologist at Our Lady’s Children Hospital, Crumlin. Since gaining validation from the Irish Psychological Association in 2004 she has worked with many trauma survivors and has contributed to several psychological publications.

Aneta is trained in the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) for adults and children, having noted research on its effectiveness in treating trauma, depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms, panic attacks, eating disorders, addiction and anxiety. She also uses EMDR for well-functioning people seeking to decrease fear and stress to help boost their confidence and self-esteem. She is a member of the EMDR Ireland Regional Group and is actively involved in developing the use of this popular new evidence-based treatment in Ireland.

Aneta offers EMDR therapy to enable people to heal from emotional distress and psychological difficulties – whether these present a major life challenge or simply prevent people from achieving maximum performance in work or other spheres of life.

Aneta’s training as a clinical psychologist and many years of clinical work has provided her with a broad understanding of human behaviour and emotions across their lifespan. She is also trained in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and trauma-focused CBT.

To contact Aneta directly please call: 087 132 3843 or email: aneta@emdrdublin.com

Rosaria Chiappone MIACP

Areas of Speciality: Anxiety, Trauma, Rosaria is also one of our Specialist Eating Freely Therapists,and  a native  Italian speaker.

Rosaria Chiappone is a qualified Integrative Counsellor and accredited with the IACP.  Rosaria offers a dedicated space on a weekly basis which is safe and confidential. Using an integrative approach which includes person-centred, psychoanalytic and CBT methods Rosaria works empathically and collaboratively with clients to explore and reflect on the thoughts and feelings that they bring to counselling. In this way clients can gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their past and their current situational difficulties and, through Rosaria’s facilitation, be able to work through them. Rosaria has worked with a range of clients of different ages, ethnicities and genders who have been experiencing difficulties in their lives such as bullying, life-stage changes, stress, relationship difficulties, health issues, anxiety, depression, bereavement and loss.

To contact Rosaria and make an appointment, please email rosariachiappone.counsellor@gmail.com and enquire about making an appointment.