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Trauma Therapy

Trauma therapy is a toolkit for managing the difficulties that come from difficult memories or feelings associated with a negative experience.

What is a traumatic memory?

A memory can become ‘sticky’ when something happens while we are under extreme stress (frightened, upset, terrified) and our brain cannot process the information about it in a normal way. Stress chemicals that we produce when we are under extreme stress change how our brains cope with and process information.

Basically, the memories, feelings or thoughts associated with that very difficult time can get stuck. They can continue to pop up and bother us when we aren’t expecting them to or when we don’t want them to. And they can bring high levels of distress and can lead us to want to avoid difficult places, things or feelings so that we don’t have to keep dealing with the sticky memories again. Therapy aims to ‘unstick’ the difficult memories, thoughts and feelings.

Includes big and small experiences

Stuck memories can involve symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that result from experiences of trauma such as accidents but they can also be of the less dramatic kind resulting from difficult experiences such as bullying at school.



The first is called Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). The aim of EMDR is to help your brain to fully process the memory of the accident, reducing or eliminating flashbacks and nightmares. The memory will always be there, but its meaning, and the thoughts and feelings you have in connection with it will change. This will help you to feel less anxious and fearful, and will reduce or eliminate flashbacks and nightmares.

What is EMDR therapy?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, which is a rather long and confusing name for a therapy that has now evolved into a treatment involving a process similar to REM sleep to separate strong emotions from memories so that they can be put away safely.

Who is it aimed at?

EMDR therapy adults or children who have experienced a significant source of stress that has meant they have memories, thoughts or feelings that are ‘stuck’. This could be a whole range of experiences including being in an accident, witnessing a crime, having an operation, being bullied etc.


​How does it work?

EMDR aims to use the brain’s usual processes to ‘unstick’ the difficult memories, thoughts and feelings. EMDR is done in different stages, and can be in person or online. It is a bit like dreaming in that you process experiences whilst stimulating your brain in some way (like REM) such as by drumming your hands or for children rocking on a wobble board.

There is a lot of information online if you would like to read more about this approach:

There's also a video here about it:

What is it like to do EMDR?

This is a very powerful and effective tool for managing 'stuck' memories. It involves finding out more about the difficulties, choosing the ‘stuck’ memories and feelings to focus on, and then teaching the person a variety of strategies to feel safe and able to cope with any difficult feelings that might come up. It moves on to a couple of sessions of ‘processing’ – which is when an image or thought is held in mind while doing eye-movements (or other forms of stimulating the brain like tapping or rocking on a wobble board). The therapist will ask you questions and guide you gently through the process. For young children it usually involves a parent working alongside the child, and older children may want a parent present as an observer.

It can be tiring to complete sessions because of the concentration involved.

Trauma-Focused CBT

The second approach is a form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy called Trauma-Focused CBT. This approach focuses on three areas. Firstly, processing the memory by talking through the story from beginning to end in a particular way. Secondly by exploring the meaning of the event for you, and developing more helpful beliefs about what happened. Thirdly, some of the ways that we try to cope can maintain or worsen things, so CBT also looks at your behaviour and whether there are different ways to manage that might be more helpful.

A Confident Start Therapy

At this practice, we provide EMDR and associated trauma therapy for adults and children. We can work online for over 12s - with the associated time saving. For younger children we work in person in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Please contact us for a no obligation chat about what you need help with.

Dr Helen Care

Clinical Psychologist

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