Knowing that one can heal from trauma is very important. Although there are a variety of skilled therapists and methods of healing trauma I want to focus on EMDR as a way to heal betrayal trauma.
What is Betrayal Trauma?
Healthy adult attachment is something many of us long for. Healthy attachment means that we can depend on the other person to be trustworthy, that they are safe, and that you can depend on them when it counts. When finding out that your partner has betrayed you, lied, has potentially put your physical and financial safety at risk the reality can be devastating. The trauma response (fight, flight, freeze) is very normal in this situation.
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitizing Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychological trauma treatment. This is a technique used by trained therapists that aid you in processing memories or experiences that may be stuck in the area of your brain that identifies danger. EMDR allows you to be totally aware, awake and active in the process the entire time. EMDR focuses on negative beliefs, body sensations, emotions and memories, creating a safe space and stimuli to help the brain process through the events (which is different than simply recalling events to another person).
How Can EMDR Help with Betrayal Trauma?
Making sense and creating emotional safety after the discovery of a partners sexual betrayal is a massive amount of work. At times, a betrayed spouses can become triggered and experience a sense of danger in their relationships.
Even when a sex addict fully embraces the recovery and healing process, the other partners recovery journey may have many bumps, potholes and twists and turns. All of us continue to live in a sexually charged world filled with triggers that often stimulate flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive or obsessive thoughts in us. It can take time for these trauma symptoms to be calmed and for our sense of feeling secure in the world to return.
Taken from the book: Your Sexually Addicted Spouse, Dr. Barbara Steffens & Marsha Means
By engaging in EMDR processing the trauma of betrayal can be examined and processed as events that happened in the past (rather than events that are happening right in the moment). Reprocessing can also take place, meaning that although you will continue to remember the events of the betrayal they will no longer have the same activating pain.
Knowing that you may be experiencing betrayal trauma, and that this response is normal and, in fact, healthy when you first discover youve been betrayed can be comforting. Knowing that you can heal from this trauma is freeing.