Get Back Into the Driver’s Seat of Your Life:
Don’t Let Adverse Child Experiences Stop You
Regardless of your past, it is possible to have great relationships, a great career and a life you truly love. Many high achieving, edgy professionals who cuss, wear ink and want to get more out of life struggle with adverse childhood experiences holding them back. At AVOS counseling, we get you on every level and are hear to help you make a breakthrough.
Whether you are an adult survivor of adverse childhood experiences or you have been in a domestically violent relationship, it can feel like your past rules your life. Sometimes you may find yourself:
- Looking at you partner and being reminded of an abusive parent
- Struggling with or avoiding intimacy even though parts of you still long for healthy sex and closeness
- Catching yourself in the mirror and seeing your critical parent looking back
- Over-reacting/ having a difficult relationship with your boss
- Avoiding, procrastinating and self-sabotaging at work
- Struggling with pain and illness that is difficult to diagnose and may have an emotional component (this doesn’t mean “it’s all in your head!”)
These things may not be your fault, they could be a natural, human reaction to a difficult past. When we are survivors of adverse childhood experiences, it impacts our brain, our bodies and our belief systems.
We tend to draw conclusions about ourselves like “I’m not good enough” “I’m unlovable” or “I’m not safe.” We might feel uncomfortable in our own skin or disconnected to our bodies and our brains are also impacted. Our brain tends to over respond to stress and perceived threats and keep us stuck in black and white thinking.
The clinicians at AVOS specialize in helping you rewire your brain, body and belief systems. We help you start to see that the unhelpful conclusions that you drew about yourself are lies. The clinicians at AVOS specialize in helping you start to see that these conclusions you drew about yourself are lies.
In fact, these beliefs are almost universal for survivors of abuse and they are simply not true. It’s also not true that physical discomfort and chronic pain are your fault. Black and white thinking and overreacting isn’t your fault either. When you have survived adverse childhood experiences, you cannot use positive thinking and a better attitude to cure it. You need better tools.
Someone cuts you off in traffic or is rude to you at the grocery store and these negative beliefs come roaring up and maybe you freeze or prepare to fight or just simply avoid or run away from difficult situations. You may even have the sense that you “know better” but there is still this part of you that believes these lies.
EMDR therapy can help
We know more about the brain now than we ever have in human history. And that means we have more ways to help you.
When yucky, traumatic or adverse childhood experiences happen, those memories don’t get processed the same way other memories do. It’s almost as if the brain is a big filing cabinet, but traumatic memories don’t get filed away properly. They get stuck and we continue to get triggered or reminded of them and we feel like we are right back in the crappy memory.
The good news is the brain has something called plasticity and can learn and change throughout our lifespan.
EMDR therapy is an incredibly powerful approach that can help access how the memory is stored in the brain currently and help the brain to reprocess and file it away properly. After this process, people often describe the memories as being “farther away,” or that “they just don’t have the same disturbing charge the way they used to.”
After working with EMDR therapy, clients feel more powerful, they stop hating themselves so much, they start to have better relationships and they start to feel like they are in control of their lives again.
You don’t have to let your past dictate your presence or your future. Positive change is possible.
It’s not you, it’s your brain
Your brain has been programmed to keep you in a state of stress. It has been trying to protect you. For many who have had traumatic pasts, their body has just been surviving and your brain has gotten stuck in that pattern.
EMDR (Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing) literally gets your brain unstuck and rewires how memories are stored.
We can literally see a physiological change in the brain after EMDR therapy. In past research, activity in the limbic system which is the part of our brain that puts us in flight, fight or freeze, is overly active before EMDR.
For many who have had traumatic pasts, their body has just been surviving- your brain is telling you that you are in danger all the time and so the limbic system takes over and focuses all the attention and energy into surviving, rather than learning, growing, loving and thriving.
After, EMDR therapy, client’s brains are much more balanced and integrated.
There is much more activity in the frontal lobes, which are in charge of attuned communication, emotion regulation, problem solving and impulse control. This makes it easier to just feel better.
But How do I know if it will work for me?
Many clients experience relief much more quickly than with traditional talk therapy, but of course
- How long will it take? The short answer is anywhere from 8 sessions to 5 years. Most clients experience relief much more quickly than with traditional talk therapy. But, of course, it depends on the issues we are healing.
Clients who have a single point of trauma (like a car accident or a recent attack) with not a lot of childhood trauma, may find 4-6 sessions can obtain the relief they need.
AND even people with a more complex history can begin to see relief with EMDR reprocessing in a short amount of time. In such instances, 6-12 sessions may be enough to begin to see tangible relief, but ongoing treatment may be needed for a few months or years, depending on the complexity of your past. While the issues may not be resolved immediately, clients can quickly begin to see tangible progress. Long-term therapy clients make big changes in a short amount of time. They go back to school, end abusive relationships, address their addictions and improve their health. The key thing to remember is that EDMR can literally help us change the way our brains are wired and this can help us make big steps forward more quickly than we would otherwise.
- What if I’ve tried other therapy before? We have many clients who have had years of talk therapy and have heard many times “I have made more progress in a couple of weeks than I have with years of talk therapy.” The reason is talk therapy is a top-down process. This means it primarily focuses on your thoughts and you are trying to convince yourself of things. EMDR therapy is a bottom-up, deeper process. The power of the therapy brings more vulnerability and allows memories (and the lies that we concluded about ourselves as a result) to be stored in a more adaptive way.
- What if it is just my personality? Clients who have survived abuse, neglect, violence or emotional manipulation often draw conclusions about who they are based on these. “I am just not good enough,” “I am a loser,” “I am a bad person,” “I am a depressed person,” “I am an anxious person.”
Children HAVE to maintain some level of connection with their caregivers in order to survive. They have to maintain the fantasy that their parents love them and that the world is safe. When caregivers are not safe or are invalidating or are just plain mean, children will draw the conclusion that there is something wrong with them.
Believing that they are bad helps them to survive in two ways: it helps them to stay attached to their caregivers because it maintains the fantasy that their parents love them unconditionally AND it gives them a false sense of power and control. “If it is something wrong with me, then there is something I can do to change it.”
The problem is, a lack of care, attachment and safety with caregivers is about THEIR own unresolved pain and doesn’t have anything to do with flaws in their children. Children believe that they are bad because they have to.
These conclusions are very common and they make sense when you think about what many people have to do in order to survive terrible situations. The good news is- even though these feel like “the truth” and they feel like “facts,” they are not. They are lies. They are survival strategies, but they are lies.
- Where’s the proof? The coolest part of EMDR is it is backed by research in neuroscience that we are quickly beginning to accumulate. We can literally see on PET scans that all of the activity before EMDR is in the limbic system. This is the part of the brain that controls the fight, flight, freeze response, as well as the collapse, submit, feign death, dissociate, check out response.
After EMDR therapy, there is much more activity in the frontal lobes and there is more balance between the left (logical) brain and the right (emotional) brain. Thr frontal lobes are responsible for things like attuned communication, more nuanced (less black and white) thinking and calming emotional and fear-based reactivity.
When trauma happens, it is overwhelming to the system and our brains cannot process it like other memories. Our brains lose our ability to distinguish between what is happening in the present moment and past challenges and therefore, memories, emotions and beliefs are stored in unhealthy ways.
Even if you don’t have conscious memories, you likely have uncomfortable symptoms and body sensations and that is how the memory is stored in the present.
EMDR therapy helps to access how these memories are stored in the present moment and helps to process them properly and file them away where they belong- in the past and in a healthier part of our brain.
Client’s feel happier, more present and more powerful.
Let’s get started and get you out of pain!
So what’s the next step? Fill out our contact form and you will immediately receive a welcome packet outlining the process and policies. You will even get a free meditation to use right now so that you can have a tool that may help manage stress. One of our clinicians will reach out to you to set up an initial consultation. All clinicians offer a free 25-minute consultation, but we always reserve the full 50 minutes. If you find you are working well with your therapist, you can continue with the full initial session at half price. Kristen offers consultations on Mondays and Saturdays and Erica offers consultations on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.
Let one of our specialists help you get you on the road to healing and out of pain today!