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What is EMDR and How Does it Heal Past Trauma?

To begin with, EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. While that might sound complicated, this type of therapy is actually pretty straightforward. That’s one reason it has increased in popularity over the years. 

As far as treatment for trauma goes, EMDR is relatively new. It was developed in the late 1980s, so it has not been around as long as some other treatment options. However, because of its effectiveness, it is currently one of the most widely used treatments for trauma

If you, or someone you know, have experienced one or multiple traumas and you’re trying to find the best treatment option, you might want to consider EMDR. Not sure if it’s right for you? Let’s dive a little deeper into what it is and what you can expect from the sessions. 

How Does EMDR Work? 

EMDR was specifically created to help individuals deal with the effects of past trauma. Whether you went through one traumatic event or you’re trying to deal with the effects of years of chronic trauma, the impact and resulting symptoms of trauma related disorders can be debilitating—unless you get treatment. 

Talk therapy is a common treatment option for trauma survivors. But EMDR goes one step further. 

EMDR is a treatment that is done in eight phases. Each phase focuses on helping you process the trauma in a safe and controlled environment. During one of the phases, you will move your eyes back and forth while thinking of a traumatic memory (that’s where the name EMDR comes from).

The main premise behind EMDR is that traumatic memories are stored differently in your brain than memories of normal, non-traumatic events. By processing the memories during EMDR, you are allowing your brain to sort through them and place them into long term memory where they belong. This allows the traumatic memories to become less powerful and emotionally charged.

What Are the Phases?

One reason people enjoy the benefits of EMDR so much is the fact that is a more straightforward and streamlined treatment. That doesn’t mean there is a “one size fits all” for everyone dealing with trauma. But, the eight phases of EMDR are done with a focused approach which allows you to work through the root of the trauma and helps you to receive relief from the effects of it. The eight phases are: 

  1. History and treatment planning
  2. Preparation
  3. Assessment
  4. Desensitization
  5. Installation
  6. Body scan
  7. Closure
  8. Reevaluation

As you can see, it isn’t a rushed or hurried process. Even the reevaluation phase is designed to determine the effectiveness of the treatment as time goes on. EMDR patients tend to feel relief pretty soon after beginning treatment, although this will depend on how extensive their trauma history is. But going through all eight phases and determining if they worked properly is a key component of the treatment process. 

Is EMDR Right for You?

It’s important to understand that EMDR isn’t just a “quick fix.” It works for most patients who are open to the ideas behind the process. Not only can it help to treat the effects of PTSD, but it is also used for conditions like anxiety, depression, and addictions. You can read more about EMDR at

So, is it the right treatment option for you? If you believe you have been through negative experiences that continue to impact your life currently, and you are open to going through the process, it definitely could be worth exploring as a treatment option.

If you’re interested in learning more about EMDR, what it is, and how it can help you, feel free to contact me, Dr. Ginny Kington, for more information or to set up a free consultation.

Why Trauma Therapy is so Effective

When you have experienced trauma, whether it was a one-time situation or chronic, repeated traumatic events, it can be overwhelming and painful.  You may not know how to fully process what you’ve been through, which makes it easy for the trauma to “take over” your thoughts and feelings. You may just long to feel safe again. 

So many people don’t know what to do to find some kind of relief from feelings of fear and anxiety, so it’s easy to feel lost and alone. But there are reasons for hope. There are so many resources available for trauma survivors, including therapy. In order to understand why therapy is so effective at helping, let’s first look at how impactful a traumatic event can be, and why help is often needed. 

Trauma Physically Alters the Brain

Even someone who hasn’t experienced trauma understands that it can be painful and frightening. But what most people don’t know is that it can actually physically change how the brain works and how it responds to certain things. 

During a traumatic event, our “fight or flight” response is activated so that we can respond to the threat in front of us. This is a healthy and adaptive response for when we are confronted with a threatening situation, and it can help to protect us and save our lives. However, days, weeks, months, or even years after the trauma is over, if we see things that remind us of the trauma, our brain can interpret these things as a threat and our bodies can then go into fight or flight again. For example, if you were in a terrible car accident, your body may go into fight or flight when you go to get into a car three weeks after the accident because your brain still interprets the car as a threat.  Going into the fight or flight response can trigger a range of emotions, including feelings of anxiety and panic (e.g., racing heartbeat, trouble breathing, dizziness, sweating, and nausea).

What Does Trauma Therapy Look Like? 

Trauma therapy serves to accomplish several different things. First, it recognizes the impact of trauma on an individual. People respond to it in different ways, so a therapist can help you better understand how what you experienced impacted you since everyone’s experience is unique.

During therapy, you will process the memories of the trauma through talking about it and discussing the thoughts and feelings that come up related to the experience(s). For people who experienced chronic trauma as children and adolescents, therapy also focuses on how those traumatic experiences shaped your development, and how it has impacted how you function in your current relationships.

Trauma therapy will also provide you with the coping skills needed to deal with the powerful feelings that come up when you are triggered by reminders of what you experienced. This will allow you to feel more in control of your thoughts and feelings. The ultimate goal of trauma therapy is to work through your traumatic experiences so that they are not having a negative impact on your present day life.

More Resources

Anxiety & Depression Association of America – PTSD Facts & Treatment

Trauma Recovery – Phases of trauma recovery

Our Resources Page

If trauma has impacted you, you’re not alone. At times, reaching out for help can feel overwhelming. Trauma survivors can sometimes feel guilt and shame, even when they’ve done nothing wrong. However, by contacting a mental health professional, you can take your life back and better understand how to deal with those feelings. You don’t have to live the rest of your life letting your trauma define you. 

Feel free to contact me for more information or to set up an appointment today. Together, we can dive into examining how the trauma you experienced is impacting you, and what you can do to begin to heal. 

5 Signs You’re Living With Complex PTSD

Most people understand the basics of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We often associate it with individuals who have been through a major traumatic event, such as war, a natural disaster, or even an abusive situation.

However, many people are not as familiar with the term complex PTSD.

Complex PTSD occurs when someone has experienced traumatic events over a period of months or years. It can be thought of as “chronic exposure” to such events.

As a result, the signs and symptoms of complex PTSD (C-PTSD)can sometimes be different from those of “traditional” PTSD. Understanding those signs can help you to receive a proper diagnosis and get the help you need.

What are some of the common signs you’re living with complex PTSD?

1. You’re Unable to Control Your Feelings

A lack of emotional regulation is a significant sign of C-PTSD. You might feel extreme sadness at times, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness, or even bouts of anger or rage.

When you feel as though you can’t control your emotions, you might begin to act out in different ways. For example, your anger might cause you to explode at someone you love. Extreme sadness, on the other hand, could lead to longer periods of depression.

2. Dissociation

Dissociation is a coping mechanism that is not always under our conscious control. It is a feeling of detachment from your emotions, or even your body. As a result, you may not have to feel the feelings associated with the traumatic experience.

Although this helps avoid some painful feelings in the short term, in the long run there are some down sides to dissociation. It is based on removing yourself from reality, and may make the truth of the situation harder to deal with when you are eventually forced to face it.

3. You Have Low Self-Esteem

Have you had a negative perception of yourself ever since the traumatic events in your life occurred? Many people who experience complex PTSD struggle with feelings of shame and hold beliefs that they are not lovable or worthy of the positive things in their lives.

The trauma you experienced over the span of months or years can change the entire way you view yourself and your life. Unfortunately, it may lead to a low opinion of yourself and your various qualities.

4. You Have Trouble With Relationships

If you do have excessive guilt or shame, it can cause you to feel different from everyone else. As you might expect, that can create problems within your relationships. That includes familial relationships, as well as friendships and romantic relationships.

You might feel as though you don’t know how to interact with other people. So, you tend to avoid spending time with them because you’re worried that you’re too different or that you just won’t fit in.

5. Your Beliefs Change

You might find yourself questioning life itself when you deal with C-PTSD. If you follow a certain religion or belief system, those thoughts and feelings can change as you ask yourself why you had to go through something so difficult.

When you can’t find any meaning in the world or your life, it can lead to severe depression, and even thoughts of self-harm or suicide. That sense of despair about the world isn’t good for anyone and can have dire consequences.

It’s important to note that the symptoms of C-PTSD can change and vary for everyone. Anyone recovering from going through traumatic experiences should seek out help as soon as possible. It is a lot to try to handle on your own, and it’s important to get some support when dealing with something so difficult.

Thankfully, there is hope, and there is help available. If you’re living with complex PTSD and you notice the signs, feel free to contact me. It is never too late to heal from the trauma and to start to take back control of your life.

5 Dating Tips for Those With a History of Trauma

No matter what type of trauma you’ve been through, it’s unlikely that you’ll recover from it overnight. Some people struggle with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for years.

Dating with a history of trauma is always difficult. If your trauma is the result of destructive or abusive relationships, dating might feel especially overwhelming. Even if you want to “get out there” and meet someone new, your past trauma can make it difficult.

How can you start dating again in a healthy way if you have a history of trauma? What can you do to make it easier on yourself?

1. Understand Your Triggers

Most people with a history of trauma have specific triggers that can cause anything from fear to wanting to self-isolate. When you understand what those triggers are, you can take extra steps to avoid them — especially when you’re out on a date.

Unfortunately, you won’t always have control of your triggers. For some people, something as straightforward as a particular sight, sound, or smell can lead back to a memory of abuse. One approach is to do what you can to steer clear of them whenever possible. Another is to engage in trauma therapy to learn how to cope effectively when you encounter a trigger.

2. Don’t Share Everything Immediately

You might feel as though a weight would be lifted from your shoulders if you told your date everything about your traumatic history right away. But that’s a pretty intense conversation to have over coffee!

In all honestly, you’re more likely to scare someone away by opening with a traumatic story. While you should tell your date eventually, try to avoid talking about your trauma on the first date unless it comes up naturally. Remember, it doesn’t define who you are, so you don’t have to share that part of yourself with your date just yet.

3. Take Things Slowly

No matter how interested you are in a person, it’s essential to take things slowly. Even if everything is going well, don’t rush. Trust your gut and your intuition. You don’t necessarily have to have your guard up, but do what you can to protect yourself from heartbreak.

By taking things slowly and not relying on initial feelings of attraction, you will understand where the relationship might be going and feel more in control and comfortable.

4. Be Patient

When you do eventually start to talk about your trauma, practice patience. The person you’re dating will undoubtedly have questions. Some of those questions might be offensive or even trigger negative memories. In most cases, people don’t ask questions to be purposefully invasive, but they may not know what to ask or how to ask it.

So, be patient. Explain what you are comfortable talking about and what you’re not, and answer things with understanding rather than resentment.

5. Don’t Blame Yourself

Going through a traumatic experience is never, ever your fault. When you do start to talk about it, avoid blaming yourself. Don’t feel guilty for what you went through or “apologize” to the person you’re dating for what happened to you.

It’s essential to remember that you aren’t broken, and your trauma doesn’t define you. It may have strongly impacted your life, but it isn’t who you are. Letting your date know that it was a part of your life, but not your entire life, can make a big difference in how your relationship moves forward.

Please reach out to me if you’ve been dealing with the effects of trauma for a while. Maybe you’re concerned about dating. Perhaps you’ve gone on a few dates that didn’t turn out as you expected.

Remember, you don’t have to go through the aftermath of trauma alone. Together, we can work on more tips for getting back into the dating scene and enjoying the experience. I’m here to help.

Is It Time to Share Your Trauma History With Someone? – How to Tell

No matter how long ago you went through a traumatic experience, it isn’t always easy to talk about. That can be especially true if you’re trying to figure out when to share your trauma history with a romantic partner or someone else close to you.

People with a trauma history can feel everything from shame and guilt to embarrassment and fear about what happened to them. Even if you know it wasn’t your fault, those feelings can creep in when you consider sharing your story with someone, making you second guess yourself quickly.

How can you tell if it’s the right time to share your trauma history with someone? And if it is, how can you go about doing it in a way that will make you feel safe and secure?

Think About Why You Want to Share Your Trauma History

If you’re considering sharing your trauma history with someone, one essential thing to do is consider why you want to do so.

What is your motive for wanting to open up about it? Believe it or not, that can make a big difference in recognizing whether it’s the right time or not.

If you want to tell someone only to determine if they still want to be in your life, even though you have “baggage,” it isn’t the right time. Unfortunately, that can open up old memories and wounds about your trauma that you may not be ready for.

However, a potential good reason to share is if someone has earned your trust and you are ready to tell them as part of moving forward in your healing process. If you feel that opening up about what you went through will help you to move forward, that’s a great sign that you’re ready to retake control of your life.

Additionally, you may want to share your trauma history with a significant other if you want him or her to understand why you respond the way you do in triggering situations. Letting them in on more information about your history can help them understand you better, and comprehend why you behave the way you do.

Do You Know How to Manage Your Trauma Responses?

When individuals share their trauma history with others, it is possible that they will not have an ideal response. They may not be entirely sure how to respond. But, if they care about you, they will want to be sensitive to the subject and your needs.

Are you prepared for whatever response they might give you? Are you willing to answer questions, even if it might trigger some of your trauma responses? If so, consider whether you know how to manage those responses.

Your trauma responses can be either physical or emotional. Some trauma survivors find themselves shaking, or their heart begins to race. Others feel immeasurable amounts of sadness or guilt.

If you don’t yet have a handle on your responses, it might not be the best time to talk to share your trauma history. If you are struggling to figure out how to cope when you are triggered, trauma therapy can be a great resource for developing these skills.

Who Are You Sharing Your Trauma History For?

Trauma is an incredibly personal thing. Therefore, talking to someone about it needs to be just as unique. Please don’t open up about your trauma history because you think it will benefit someone else or because you feel that you owe it to someone.

Instead, deciding to share your experience with someone needs to be all about you. No one else will ever fully know what you went through. So, if you’re opening up because you feel you owe it to someone, you don’t. You owe it to yourself to take your time and talk about your history when you are ready.

Maybe you’re ready to open up about that history, but you’re not quite ready to talk about it with family members, a partner, or friends just yet. If that sounds like you, feel free to contact me to sort through your feelings. Together, we can talk about as much or as little of your history as you’re comfortable with. It can be your first step forward in the next chapter of your life.

You don’t have to let your trauma define you. Telling someone about it, for the right reasons, can give you control again. I’m open to talking; please reach out to me today.


2805 Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
Suite 115
Duluth, GA 30097

Appointments available to serve clients in Gwinnett county and in the areas of:

  Alpharetta,   Roswell,
  Johns Creek,   Norcross,
  Duluth,   Lilburn,
  Lawrenceville,   Suwanee,
  and Doraville.

Online therapy appointments available in the following states:

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  Delaware, Washington DC,
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