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red bike counseling

~ freedom to live the life you envision ~

Lisa Lesperance Kautsky, MA, NCC, NLC, LPCC

Grand Junction, Colorado


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like spring, EMDR offers a new beginning

Sun rays are penetrating the mud patches on the trail this morning. The trees and shrubs are rejoicing for the recent rains. Soil moisture reservoirs are up. Desert flowers will surely be a marvel this spring. Though the desert’s thirst is momentarily quenched, some of the pinyons out there still look to be stressed. Drought? Pine beetle? A combination of both? Though these desert plants are used to being stressed, maybe the recent drought has been one too many traumatic events.

In the world of mental health, trauma is considered a single blow, while complex trauma is considered absorbing multiple blows over the course of time. Either way, unprocessed, trauma or complex trauma can impact our lives in many ways. For those of us with complex trauma, we may be nervous and fearful, have insomnia, and be hypervigilant (always anticipating something bad). We may be angry, resentful, or blaming and shaming ourselves. Our muscles may be tight, and we may have a clenched jaw, grinding our teeth at night.

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Complex trauma symptoms most likely interfere with having meaningful relationships and symptoms may interfere with  work.  Symptoms may prevent us from having clarity, reaching our goals, or experiencing joy. Unprocessed trauma is energy bottled up in our bodies and our bodies use our energy reserves to keep suppressing that bottled energy. Unprocessed trauma distorts our thinking and in turn we develop negative self-messaging. We may begin to live out that negative self-messaging. We become what we think.

First, becoming aware that what we are experiencing is complex trauma is the beginning of healing. Reframing that negative self-messaging into positive self-messaging is the next place to begin some of the healing work. Coping skills for complex trauma include calming the nervous system through mindfulness, yoga, or the like. Grounding skills (methods to be in the present) and learning appropriate boundaries may help. Supportive relationships and guided imagery also may help. These all aid in calming the symptoms, but the bottled energy or unprocessed trauma will likely still reside in the body. What can else be done?

A few weeks back, I mentioned Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing or EMDR. EMDR helps us process that suppressed energy. EMDR is backed by the Veteran’s Administration and the American Psychological Association (for more details, visit EMDR.com). Essentially, EMDR has the potential to resolve our suppressed emotion and negative thinking associated with trauma. Once resolved, our anxiety, fear, hypervigilance, insomnia, etc. will become minimized and more likely to resolve altogether. Just like spring, EMDR offers a new beginning.