PTSD & Trauma Counseling

PTSD & Trauma Counseling Colorado Springs 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the result of traumatic experiences that cannot be understood or processed at the moment they are occurring. The brain switches to the sympathetic autonomic nervous system, which is the flight or fight system.  PTSD is triggered when similar or familiar emotions from the trauma trigger and experienced in the present. The sympathetic nervous system repeatedly takes over and signals danger when, in fact, there is no real danger.

Eye Movement, Desensitization, and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based treatment model that effectively deals with both PTSD and trauma-related issues.  Using the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model for EMDR therapy assists clients to adaptively processing disturbing memories and events and bring understanding to them.  The seven core assumptions of the AIP model are:

Seven Core Assumptions

  1. The neurobiological information processing system is intrinsic and adaptive
    • The capacity for adaptive information processing is hardwired in all of us except in cases of organic deficits
    • This system is geared to integrate internal and external experiences
    • Experiences are translated into physically stored memories
    • Memories are stored in associative neural (memory) networks with similar experiences linked together (The AIP Model. review from Part I. https://www.instituteforcreativemindfulness.com).
  1. Stored memories of past experiences are the basis of perception, emotional experience, behavior, and action tendencies in the present and anticipations about the future.
  2. Under optimal conditions, new experiences tend to be assimilated by the information processing system and appropriately linked with existing memory networks associated with similarly categorized experiences.
  3. When certain experiences with high levels of disturbance (trauma) overwhelm the mind-body’s innate capacity to process that information
    • It disrupts the innate information processing system and
    • Becomes maladaptively encoded and dysfunctionally stored in its own neuro networks in implicit /non-declarative memory system
    • Frozen in time, and in the state-specific form with all the attendant distress in the form of emotions, cognitions, and somatosensory components and
    • Disconnected from the existing adaptively integrated memory networks
  1. Such maladaptively encoded or inadequately processed memories become the basis of psychopathology across the clinical spectrum
    • By serving as a template for experiencing similar future situations
    • Reinforcing and expanding the maladaptive associations
    • While preventing the integration of appropriate restorative and adaptive experiences in the future
  1. When such maladaptively encoded memories are stimulated/triggered in the present
    • It results in inappropriate and maladaptive emotional, cognitive and behavioral reactions (as if the person is reliving the past event) in the present
    • Leading to the development of new maladaptive associations and new triggers
    • Perpetuating psychopathology and associated distressing symptom
  1. EMDR procedures facilitates
    • Access to maladaptively encoded or inadequately processed memory networks and the resumption of adaptive information processing
    • Linking maladaptively encoded information to the existing adaptively stored memory networks, transmuting all aspects of that memory to an adaptive resolution (semantic memory) where:
    1. The past becomes relegated to the past, and related maladaptive perceptions, emotions, sensations are discarded
    2. Integrating new learnings within the appropriate emotional, cognitive, somatosensory, and temporal systems
    3. Resulting in the client experiencing oneself as a whole with cognitions, emotions, and sensations appropriate and adaptive to the present situations. (Nagireddy &, 2019, p. 21)

Identifying the trauma trigger and processing it while your system is at rest (parasympathetic system) will disengage the anxious or traumatic feelings from responding. The key is to recognize the traumatic emotions, and instead of resisting them, accept them without giving them meaning.  In other words, the traumatic feelings describe a time when danger was present but no longer define the current reality.

As a Certified Trauma Specialist, I help clients tell their story and identify their trauma triggers, process them while remaining in the present moment where they are safe.  Using EMDR protocols, we desensitize the disturbing memories where they become an event in their life that no longer intrudes into the present moments.  Clients telling their trauma story enables them to remain in the present moment free from re-experiencing the past trauma when the memory is triggered.

References

Nagireddy, C. S. (2019). EMDR international association approved basic training. EMDR basic training Manuel, 21.

The Adaptive Information Processing Model (Review from Part I). https://www.instituteforcreativemindfulness.com/uploads/3/0/2/4/3024486/aiplargertext.pdf