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  • Writer's picturePalacios Crew Counseling

Understanding Trauma and Its Impact + EMDR Treatment

Updated: Jul 9

What is Trauma?

Trauma is a significant change in the brain's neurological linkage, resulting from an event that is outside normal experience and emotionally distressing. It represents a threat that an individual is not prepared to handle, leading to an inability to cope. When trauma is unprocessed, our brain convinces us that we are still reliving the moment, with information stuck in the nervous system.

Responses to Trauma: Flight, Fight, or Freeze

  • Flight: This response involves running away or withdrawing, characterized by restlessness, anxiety, shallow breathing, and a feeling of being trapped.

  • Fight: Manifesting as anger, rage, acting out, or crying, this response includes physical symptoms like balled-up hands, an upset stomach, and nausea.

  • Freeze: This involves dissociation, feeling stuck in a part of the body, experiencing coldness, numbness, pale skin, stiffness, and heavy breathing.

Impact of Trauma

Trauma can lead to the development of maladaptive coping skills, including depression, isolation, eating disorders, self-harm, harm to others, substance use, sexually acting out, perfectionism, and shame.

Image of a brain and it's features: Pre-Frontal Cortex, Amygdala, and Hippocampus

How Can Natural Supports Help?

Natural supports can play a crucial role in trauma recovery by ensuring safety, reinforcing that the trauma was not the individual's fault, acknowledging that healing takes time, and encouraging counseling. Resources like Teen Lifeline (988, (602) 248-8336, offer additional support.

EMDR Trauma Treatment

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the 1980s, addresses the connection between eye movement and persistent upsetting memories. EMDR helps the brain process these memories without intense emotions, using bilateral stimulation to create new neural pathways and reprocess trauma.

Adaptive Information Processing Model (AIP)

Trauma is stored in the brain's neural network, linking negative cognitions, feelings, and body sensations to traumatic events. The goal of AIP is to add adaptive emotions to this network, creating new neural pathways through bilateral stimulation and reprocessing trauma to form healthier associations and behaviors.

Eight Phases of EMDR

  1. History Taking and Treatment Planning

  2. Preparation

  3. Assessment

  4. Desensitization

  5. Installation

  6. Body Scan

  7. Closure

  8. Re-evaluation

Who Can Benefit from EMDR?

EMDR is beneficial for children, teens, and adults. It helps process memories, resolves the flight, fight, or freeze response, and facilitates a cognitive shift towards healthier thoughts and beliefs.

What Does EMDR Treat?

EMDR treats a range of conditions, including anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, chronic illnesses, depression, bipolar disorder, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, grief, PTSD, sleep disturbances, substance use, and abuse.

colorful silhouette image of two heads, back to back. title: How to support someone who has experienced trauma + detailed recommendations within the graphic

Resources for Further Support

For more information on EMDR and other trauma treatments, visit,, and

For personalized support, contact Diane Palacios LPC LISAC PMH-C at (602) 767-3706 or Visit for more details.

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