Many individuals who have been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have been suffering for years. The debilitating symptoms slowly infiltrate every part of a person’s life until they feel they are only existing, instead of living!
Traditional therapies such as talk therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are well utilized in the treatment of PTSD. CBT has the best track record of success; however, using it on its own usually requires an extended period of time, often years, to achieve measurable results. For many, recalling a traumatizing experience during talk therapy can re-traumatize them, thereby discouraging them from remaining in therapy. In contrast, the utilization of energy psychology techniques such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) has produced dramatic improvements in as little as a few days, as evidenced by several scientific studies.
In my last blog, I explained the psychophysiological effects involved in the development of PTSD. I will now illuminate why the application of energy psychology is immensely beneficial in its treatment. It would be useful to review the previous blog before continuing.
As noted in my last blog, one of the physiological responses to trauma for those afflicted with PTSD is the inability of their body to return to a state of homeostasis after a traumatizing experience has passed – the individual remains in a state of high alert. This heightened state of alert prevents the complete neural processing of the event, resulting in the traumatic event remaining as a part of the present rather than the brain storing it as a past event as it should. The reliving of the event as part of present day experiences causes considerable suffering and feelings of vulnerability.
One of the goals in treating PTSD with energy psychology is to assist individuals in fully processing their trauma such that it can be relegated to the past. This is accomplished through the initiation of specific eye movements, in concert with other techniques, allowing individuals to feel completely safe and calm in the moment. Although neuroscientists are aware that visual abnormalities appear in individuals recalling disturbing or traumatic events, the exact association between the two is not yet fully understood. It is believed the eye movements may be linked to how the brain processes information. With the use of energy psychology, the event can be transferred from a present to a past experience. This results in a lowering of the persistent high state of arousal. Although this does not take place all at once, it is one of the goals of the successful treatment of PTSD.
A state of hyper-arousal is exhausting for the body to perpetually support and thereby can explain the so-called “short fuse” of many traumatized individuals. The slightest upset can throw them into a complete state of panic, overwhelm, or anger. As mentioned, through the implementation of the EFT and other energy techniques as needed, a calming response can be elicited, relieving the immediate state of panic. The techniques are taught to individuals so that they can become their own therapist between sessions until their trauma therapy is complete. Dealing with immediate panic however will only calm the individual in the moment. To completely address PTSD, memories underlying and triggering the state of panic and overwhelm must also be addressed.
As discussed in my previous blog, the unconscious memory is where many of the memories triggering a state of stress and panic are stored. Many memories of traumatic events that cannot be consciously recalled are stored through the sensory channels of the body, sight, smell, taste, etc. These unconscious memories can be triggered by either external or internal stimuli. Often they cannot be put into any context; so instead of recalling a specific past memory or specific life event, only fragmented memories, images, sounds, or sights are processed. This can trigger states of panic for seemingly unknown reasons.
Given that most of the memories linked to a traumatic event are unconscious memories, it now easy to see why traditional talk therapy could take years to resolve the symptoms associated with PTSD. Energy psychology on the other hand can address these specific sensations and emotions of the body without having to address the cause. The uncomfortable sensations felt during therapy inadvertently address the unconscious memory since the two are linked. Often when addressing specific body sensations, memories that are the basis of the current felt state are revealed. The memories that are conscious can then be dealt with directly.
Of utmost importance in the treatment of PTSD is keeping clients calm and present during therapy. In utilizing energy psychology, several techniques are used to address the trauma without putting the individual back into a state of hyper-arousal or panic. Exposure through body sensations or actual memories of the traumatic event, while simultaneously eliciting a calming response in the emotional centre of the brain, allows the trauma to be recalled without the stress response. The memory then exists in the past with a neutral emotional attachment.
If you would like to learn more about the treatment of PTSD or trauma using energy psychology, please contact me and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.