Healing trauma may seem out of reach if you’ve spent a lifetime struggling with it or come from a family where trauma is a family heirloom passed down from generation to generation.

One of the reasons I use EMDR and enjoy working with clients with a history of intergenerational trauma is the generational healing that it ignites. I love working with cycle-breakers: people who are ready to stop the cycle of unhealed trauma and toxic family systems. EMDR helps people break destructive cycles and let go of negative cognitions rooted in trauma that hold them back.

Hurt people hurt people. 

However, there is an alternative and EMDR often opens the door to it.

 

Healed people heal people.  EMDR heals trauma

Sometimes, I work with people who have endured unimaginable trauma. 

When doing EMDR processing with clients, I ask them to close their eyes during the processing (I usually use hand-held tappers so my clients are able to close their eyes) because I don’t want my reactions to impact their processing in any way. 

What I don’t tell my clients is this:

Sometimes, I am crying and I don’t want that to impact their processing either. To be clear, I’m not sobbing or hysterical. The tears are silent. But the emotion is genuine.

I cry because I am so moved by the connections their brains are making in an effort to heal. It amazes me how people have breakthroughs during EMDR processing that transforms the way they view the events and often themselves.

I cry because I feel so much empathy for what they have endured and their vulnerability in being willing to heal it.

I cry because they are creating a new path. For themselves, for their families, and for the people who care about them too. I know that it takes courage to walk that path and I am inspired by the bravery I see in my office every day.

It is not lost on me how much my clients trust me with their journey confronting some of the most painful experiences of their lives. I value the journey and I learn so much form my clients and their healing.

Being a cycle-breaker is not easy. I have so many clients who have walked this path and confronted destructive family norms and patterns of unhealthy communication and behavior.

When you grow up in an unhealthy family system, it begins to feel normal. Breaking out of these unhealthy family systems is often incredibly uncomfortable which is why people sometimes land in unhealthy relationships unconsciously recreating cycles from their family of origin.

 

EMDR allows people to reprocess traumatic events in a way that is more adaptive and useful. Neurons that fire together, wire together. EMDR can actually change a person’s neural wiring.

We work on replacing unhealthy negative cognitions (thoughts rooted in trauma that can be self-sabotaging like “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not safe,” “I can’t trust,” or “I can’t get what I want”) with positive cognitions that are more congruent with what they want in life.

We also bring down the level of disturbance associated with traumatic memories so that we feel less triggered by current life events.

While EMDR addresses the big “T” traumas that everyone acknowledges are traumatic (abuse, disasters, losses, etc), it also addresses the small “t” traumas that may impact us more than we realize. Small “t” traumas can be something a parent, teacher, or classmate said to us as a child or adult and may even seem insignificant. However, the way our brain stores small “t” and big “T” traumas is similar and EMDR helps clients re-wire their brains in a way that is incredibly healing.

Healed people heal people.

Recently, I had a profound EMDR Intensive with a client that really moved me. This client came from a long lineage of emotionally and physically abusive adults who were raising emotionally and physically abusive adults. This client made incredible connections during their EMDR Intensive and I felt so inspired because I know this client is a cycle-breaker and that the work we did together will impact them and everyone around them.

Being a cycle-breaker is not easy but I genuinely believe that EMDR can go a long way towards lighting the path.

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