I’d been thinking that perhaps I needed to explain a bit more on EMDR and Tapping as to how they actually help alleviate the PTSD symptoms, then this morning I saw this NICABM post on my Facebook site that offers an online course for treating trauma by some of the top trauma therapists in the field.
If anyone is interested, I’ll put it all on here including the website for signing up to hear their experienced spiels first-hand, but I noticed in session 4 that Ogden and Siegel will directly discuss the WHY EMDR and Tapping are effective for treating PTSD:
“… Two distinct signs that your client might have impaired brain integration from trauma
How the midbrain holds the key to the freeze response…”
That’s the very reason EMDR and Tapping do work: The traumatic incident or incidences have NOT been fully integrated in the brain’s processing mechanism. They are “stuck” in the mid-brain which creates the immediate reactivity to similar situations without the rational ability to assess their true safety or danger to the body; and I’ll try to explain that more fully in limited verbiage later.
Anyway, for $97 you can listen to the entire course from NICABM and receive transcripts, etc, from folks who know a lot more than I do. I’m just making the option available here.
“What happens in the brain when someone experiences trauma, leaving the nervous system vulnerable to horrific feelings and painful sensations?
We asked this question to the top 5 experts in treating trauma in this brand new, focused short course (And there are 3 CE/CMEs available).
Dan Siegel, MD; Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD; Bessel van der Kolk, MD; Pat Ogden, PhD; and Stephen Porges, PhD; will get into:
✅ The key part of a traumatized brain that gives trauma such enormous power
✅ How the “survival brain” gets altered after a traumatic experience (and how to look for this in your client)
✅ Two hormones that leave the brain highly vulnerable when traumatic memories are forming
✅ What happens in the brain that makes some clients unable to distinguish threat cues from non-threatening stimuli
✅ One strategy to prevent dissociation and retrain a client’s trauma response
✅ Two distinct signs that your client might have impaired brain integration from trauma”
“The Neurobiology of Trauma and How to Apply It to Your Work with Clients
During a traumatic event, the survival brain can take over and knock critical thinking offline.
To fully help clients heal from trauma, we have to understand what’s happening in the traumatized brain – while the traumatic event is occurring as well as how the client gets held hostage to threat cues long afterward.
The brain is so important to working with trauma that we wanted to create a program that solely focused on how to treat it.
We’ll look at the specific brain areas that get altered by trauma, and how this neutralizes the client’s ability to problem-solve.
5 of the top experts in the world will share how they treat clients who struggle with trauma. This brand new program brings together the sharpest strategies for working with a traumatized brain.”
So back to my explanation of EMDR and Tapping and why they are effective for treating PTSD: As I understand it, the brain is a complex of four separate parts stacked on one another in evolutional growth that have specific functions in the body.
- The brain stem was the earliest evolution of consciousness and was often called the reptilian brain. (Involuntary nervous system like heartbeats and breathing—pure reaction—eat, sleep, procreate, basic survival.)
- The limbic system was the next evolution in consciousness and was referred to as the mammalian brain. (Emotions developed—how we FEEL as we react to whatever we experience—emotional response—fear, short-term memory of intense feeling/emotions, hormone producing—the processing point where affecting experiences are sent to the upper brain for classification as safe or unsafe.)
- The human evolution of consciousness was through the development of the cerebellum and cerebrum which were primarily for memory, language development, reasoning skills, and data analysis abilities (highly developed nerve centers and memory storage systems).
The trauma problem arises when some frightening situations cause extremely fearful responses in us (they scare the dickens out of us), and the pure nerve reactivity of the brainstem hits the midbrain point where the limbic brain emotionally reacts to the situation with extreme fear, and the experience shocks the processing point to such a degree that it fails to register the experience further and disseminate it into the memory storage region of the cortex/cerebrum for analysis and comprehension of what actually just happened.
See how the thalamus and the hypothalamus sit directly on top of the midbrain region of the brain stem? That’s where the data processing point of that particular experience gets stuck. The reactivity to fear is so strong there during that frightful situation that it freezes at that midbrain processing point and that memory sits there unresolved for further assessment by the higher brain. That terrorizing situation is like an awful experience stuck in midbrain that to us feels like it is in perpetual fear reactivity in the NOW, and it can’t be properly assessed as “in the past” because it always feels “in the present” and we are constantly reacting to it even when it’s no longer occurring to us. That’s what leads to the hyper-alertness of PTSD and the instant over-reactivity to anything even remotely fear-inducing to us.
Anyway, the physical bilateral action of tapping or the physical eye-movement-desensitization utilizes the physical body’s ability to actually help move those ‘stuck in fear reactivity’ memories on into the cortex region for proper filing away in memory storage. When the ‘once stuck horror situation’ is unstuck and properly filed away where it should be, which is IN THE PAST, the mind can begin to properly assess the horrific experience as it truly WAS, not still presently IS, and move through it with safer and more accurate assessments of what really happened to us.
I mean the memory of the horrific experience will still be horrible, but it will be past-tense horrible, not continually present-tense horrible. And that actually does make a difference in how we can better handle our present experiences and help us to move on with our lives.
Hope the above explanation helps. And you can check out the NICABM offering** listed for some serious detailed options available to you.
** (And yes, these online discussions are therapists training other therapists in how to successfully treat trauma clients, but the more information that you have available to you on how the top trauma therapists in the field best handle trauma-client situations, the better you can choose a therapist for yourself that might utilize these more effective techniques for dealing with your own extreme trauma.
Gathering information yourself on the subject is all about self-empowerment–you can then go into a therapy session armed with that newly-acquired knowledge of what might be happening in your brain’s processing centers and work together with your therapist on healing your mind/memories/reactions, rather than just sitting back in the office chair and expecting someone else to fix what might be wrong in your life. You actually take control of your healing by better informing yourself of your true treatment options.
At least that’s my opinion on gathering all the positive treatment information available to you.)