TFC Expands Highly Effective Trauma Treatment
As soon as Melissa turned the knob she realized something wasn’t right, she began retracing her morning for a fragment of a memory confirming she had left the door unlocked. She hadn’t. As she stepped inside, she very quickly realized her home had been burglarized.
Perhaps it wouldn’t have been as traumatic of an experience had this been her first experience with theft and crime, but as a convenience store clerk, Melissa had already experienced two armed robberies. Now as she stood looking into her ransacked home, the paralyzing fear and feeling of violation returned.
Melissa tried to move on as she had before, but this time was different. She used to feel her home was a safe refuge — now she was assured she was in danger at all times. She was convinced that at any moment she would be thrust into the horrifying, helpless situation — that someone would sneak up behind her in the parking lot and steal her car, maybe this time they would pull the trigger.
The feeling stayed with her for several days. She couldn’t go to work, she didn’t want to be home alone, every small noise put her on edge, she was constantly afraid. That’s when Melissa decided to seek help. She called The Family Conservancy and made an appointment, and soon found herself across the table from a therapist. Melissa’s traumatic experiences made her the perfect candidate for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.
During EMDR treatment, the clinician asks the client to recall the traumatic event while tracking the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision. During this process, associations arise and the client begins to process the traumatic memories. Unlike traditional therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes (EMDR Institute).
Recalling these memories was very difficult and often overwhelming for Melissa. When therapy became too much, she used a “safe place” activity to regulate and manage the emotion. In the exercise, Melissa pulled a calming, safe place from her memory and imagined herself there using each of her senses. She found this activity so helpful she taught her children the same technique.
After just eight sessions, Melissa’s fear and insecurity was transformed into a feeling of empowerment. She returned to work and is able to be home alone without fear.
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