Emotional Trauma, Detox, and EMDR Therapy
Recently we had a chance to speak with special guest Suzanne Rucker1, a licensed mental health therapist in the state of Florida. Suzanne is also a certified EMDR therapist and trauma expert. She spent some time with us, talking about EMDR therapy, its amazing potential in treating emotional trauma, and how it ties into our philosophy on cellular healing and detox. You can watch our interview with Suzanne here and learn more about EMDR therapy and her 5 R’s:
What is EMDR Therapy?
According to the EMDR Institute™2, “EMDR, short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.” This applies to acute trauma, such as what soldiers and rape victims’ experience, and for what might be called lesser distressing memories, including emotional distress accumulated during childhood. EMDR therapy combines behavioral therapy (focusing on the trauma) with specialized, bilateral (meaning back and forth) eye movement to target the trauma and help to release it.
Why is EMDR Therapy Important to Emotional Well-Being?
We know that fear, anger, and in fact all emotions, generate a physiological response in the body. Our emotional well-being is clearly tied into our physical well-being, as Dr. Bruce Lipton discussed in a past CHTV episode. These two things are not separate. Anyone who has experienced a panic attack can attest to how their fears, overblown, trigger adrenaline release into the bloodstream, causing the symptoms of the panic attack when the adrenaline isn’t expended upon a legitimate fight or flight situation.
Suzanne explains, “Because a panic attack is coming from a different part of the brain. The thinking comes from the prefrontal cortex, but trauma comes into the midbrain, in the limbic area, the amygdala, the hippocampus. And that area of the brain, that midbrain or limbic system, is always going to win the battle between the midbrain and the prefrontal cortex. So the prefrontal cortex is saying you’re okay. You’re safe. But that midbrain or the limbic system is what keeps us alive.” Think of the limbic system as the emotional and instinctive part of the brain, responsible for recognizing dangerous situations and triggering a fast response. The limbic system has the ability to override more rational thought in favor of priming our bodies for quick reflexes in life or death situations. Suzanne further explains, “…that limbic system overrides the prefrontal cortex, which is the rational and logical thinking part of the brain, to keep us alive.” The problem comes when acute trauma or accumulated distressing experiences interfere with proper danger evaluation. The limbic system is triggered from non-dangerous situations (memories, similar situations to the traumatic memories, etc), and we experience anxiety, fear, flashbacks, panic attacks, and so forth.
The physiological effects of improper danger evaluation don’t stop at panic attacks. We see other physical symptoms, including:
- heart rate increases
- nervous system changes
- endocrine system effects (via constant release of cortisol)
- gastrointestinal issues, including stomachaches and digestive issues
Suzanne points out, “So you can see what this does to the body. It wreaks havoc on the entire system. There’s not a system in the body that is not reached by trauma.” As I’ve noted many times, the body reacts the same, whether it’s physical, chemical, or emotional stress.
EMDR therapists maintain that emotional trauma, big and small, build up in the memory sections of the brain, causing anxiety and stress problems that can last for decades, if not lifelong if not treated properly. The bilateral eye movement that EMDR utilizes has a demonstrated potential3 to help release the fear and anxiety from traumatic memories by combining psychological with physiological therapies. Results have been remarkable, both for its effectiveness, and the speed with which patients seem to respond.
The EMDR Institute™ goes on to say, “EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.”
Suzanne’s 5R’s of Emotional Detox
Similar to our own 5R’s of True Cellular Detox and Healing™, Suzanne was kind enough to share her own 5R’s of Emotional Detox. We love how well these steps tie in to our cellular healing philosophy.
R1: Remove the trauma lodged in the brain and the body. This is done through bilateral stimulation with a certified EMDR therapist.
R2: Regenerate new thinking. You work to shift your thinking from the limbic thought of, “I’m not safe,” to the more rational, prefrontal cortex thought of, “I survived that. I’m a survivor.”
R3: Restore the body to health. This involves opening up those emotional pathways, and shedding the “emotional toxins.” This step can include physical activity, like walking or yoga, and diet, lifestyle and True Cellular Detox™ strategies.
R4: Reduce negative emotions. At this step you and your therapist work to reduce the stressors that trigger the anxiety and panic attacks in the first place. Using the bilateral movement in EMDR therapy helps to remove the negative feelings from traumatic experiences. You don’t forget the experiences, but the anxiety that they trigger is effectively reduced, sometimes completely eliminated.
R5: Reestablish homeostasis in the body and brain. Suzanne describes, “And so that is the outcome, homeostasis, for the brain. We’ve got new thinking. We’ve got new emotions, and now we have a body that’s calm and relaxed.”
Emotional Detox and True Cellular Detox and Healing™
How does this therapy tie in with True Cellular Detox and Healing™? Think of psychological stress and trauma as another toxifying agent needing to be addressed. Emotional trauma affects not just the brain but the entire body. And so often, when dealing with clients, if someone’s not progressing the way we’d expect by removing chemical interference or chemical/physical stressors, we look to the emotional stressors present. Remember that trauma doesn’t have to be acute, or large to make an impact. Smaller disturbing events can still block the mind from true healing. Addressing emotional trauma is a key factor to consider as part of cellular healing.
Suzanne stresses that to tell a person suffering from psychological trauma, large or little, to simply develop a better outlook on life as part of healing the body is ineffective and unhelpful. Like we talk about removing the source (R1) when it comes to cellular healing, emotional trauma needs to be detoxed from the brain and body properly so that anxiety and latent fears are cleared from mental pathways, paving the way for true healing to begin. EMDR therapy seems to hold much promise in helping to achieve emotional detox and it’s another great tool to put in your cellular healing toolbox.