You can recover from trauma with EMDR Therapy


Read previous posts about how Danielle worked with an EMDR-trained Therapist to process the emotional trauma of her car accident   Part 1   Part 2

Like taking time to see a doctor and working with a physical therapist to heal injuries after an accident, working with a psychotherapist will support your recovery from emotional injuries.  EMDR is a comprehensive and integrative method that can help you recover from large and small traumas you have experienced recently or in the past.

Emotional Injury to Recovery

Danielle (link to previous post) was able to return to her daily life after her car accident with a few bumps and bruises.  As weeks went by, then months, she started to notice her increased vigilance and anxiety when riding in cars as a passenger.  It was over a year and a half later that she learned about EMDR and that she could get help for her emotional trauma.

EMDR for Recovery from Auto Accidents

Danielle sought out an EMDR-trained psychotherapist and began working with him.  During their initial meeting, Danielle signed some paperwork and asked questions about how things would work.  He explained that EMDR has been effective in helping millions of people reduce or eliminate symptoms related to traumas of all sorts.  He explained that EMDR uses a non-hypnotic approach, called Bilateral Stimulation (BLS), to support the brain with doing what it wants to do normally, which is to sort emotions and put away the past.  He explained that our evolved brains can interrupt this natural process, to carry on with pressing tasks of the day, leaving the processing work until we feel safe enough to explore our emotions.

If we don’t take the time to process traumas of the past, symptoms can accumulate.  Our resilience to strong emotional events is taxed managing past traumas and we are at greater risk of perceiving future incidents as traumatic.

EMDR Supports Brain’s Natural Recovery

Danielle was happy to hear that EMDR supported a natural process and that she would be supporting her mind and body towards regaining its natural, healthier state. After their initial meeting, they discussed Danielle’s specific concerns related to her car accident.  Because he knew that previous emotionally overwhelming incidents (even dissimilar ones) could be impacting Danielle, they discussed her history and considered if any previous life experiences were impacting her present situation.

Her therapist introduced her to different methods of BLS to support her EMDR work.  They tried these different approaches to find what worked for her.  He moved his hands side to side as she followed them with her eyes, then they tried small puslers that shook in her hands like a phone on vibrate, and finally she tried a headset with a tone that played in each ear.  She found that the BLS method with the pulsers worked best for her. That is to say, she could keep her attention on what she was thinking, feeling, imagining, or sensing in her body, while the BLS was simply active in the background.

Together they began building up Danielle’s resilience, equipping her to be emotionally fit to handle the EMDR process. He explained that the process of putting away the unsorted packages of data from her incident would involve metaphorically picking up and putting these packages away. Some of the time the packages would be easy to move, but others might be heavy. Danielle knew that she could trust the process that her mind and body went through on their own, but she was worried that she wouldn’t finish the sorting process at the end of any given a session. Her therapist agreed, and when she asked that question he had been preparing to teach her two important skill for such situations: containment and calming place.

After practicing her containment and calming skills in and out of sessions, Danielle and her therapist were in an excellent situation to process the trauma of her car accident.  Danielle felt relieved that she didn’t have to do anything but be honest with what she experienced.  She held the pulsers in her hands and together they began processing her car accident trauma with EMDR.

After several sessions she had managed to clear the packages related to the car accident.  Danielle noticed that her brain and body continued to process material outside of sessions at times, and she was capable of handling these feelings.  She noticed her symptoms of anxiety and fear when riding in a car with others dissipating with each session.  Finally, when she was reporting no symptoms related to accident , Danielle and her therapist considered her goal achieved.  She returned to her life with just memories of her accident, no longer triggered by her past being confused with the present.

Danielle discussed working on other past traumas that she hadn’t considered previously, finding new hope in the effective treatment she received from her EMDR therapist.

EMDR Quick Recovery from Various Traumas

While EMDR is frequently proven to be faster than other evidenced-base approaches in supporting an individual’s elimination or reduction of symptoms, each person’s recovery process is unique.  Danielle’s work over a few months was a great success. However, the timing of everyone’s recovery is unique.  Variables of potential factors may include:

  • current life situation,
  • time since incident,
  • perceived threat during incident,
  • experience of other traumatic events,
  • and many more…

EMDR Works for Traumas of All Sorts

Whether dealing with a car accident or other sorts of traumas, EMDR has been effectively used to support full recover and reduction of symptoms.  EMDR has been used to work through:

  • Sexual Assaults
  • General Anxieties
  • Sports Accidents
  • Performance Issues
  • PTSD
  • Witness to other’s accidents or distress
  • Natural Disasters
  • Complex Grief.

If someone you love is hurting after a small or large trauma, encourage them to get a check-up with an EMDR-trained therapist.

Casey Burnett, MA, LPC is a trained EMDR psychotherapist with broad experience with women and men impacted by trauma. Casey specializes in using EMDR to treat any emotional trauma from accidents (sports, auto or witnessed) and chronic pain management. Casey Burnett is in private practice in Boulder, CO. Learn more at
Have your questions answered. Call me. 720-722-4070