Alice Cook Counselling in Stroud

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Trauma, PTSD and EMDR

‘Human beings are born with an innate capacity to triumph over trauma. I believe not only that trauma is curable, but that the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening—a portal opening to emotional and genuine spiritual transformation’.
Peter A. Levine

Trauma can shatter your sense of security in the world.

The experience of trauma can have an overpowering effect on the body, mind and emotions, making you feel helpless and vulnerable. Such experience may be following life threatening events or any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed.

Possible Causes of Physical, Emotional & Psychological Trauma

Emotional and psychological trauma can be caused by single events, such as an accident, a natural disaster, or a violent attack. Trauma can also arise from ongoing, relentless stress, neglect or abuse as a child, or experiences as diverse as living with a chronic, limiting health condition, bereavement, feeling humiliated or shamed or being in abusive relationships.

Your subjective emotional experience is the key factor, rather than the external event.

Because trauma affects us in so many ways, a single approach is often less helpful than one which works with you as a whole person. We all have many different parts and ways of understanding within us and trauma can affect not only how you think about the world, but your relationships, your body, your emotions and your fundamental sense of self.

My approach

The work of healing from trauma is challenging and requires courage. It is different for everyone. This is why I believe a gentle and respectful approach is so important.

The most important starting point is a safe and trusting therapeutic environment, without which no change is possible. Trust is not easy for people who have experienced trauma or have a background of difficult relationships in childhood. So going at your own pace, allowing time for the process to unfold and feeling safe enough to open up and begin to share deep and painful experiences is often a large part of our work together.

Trauma therapy involves one or more of the following:

  • Processing trauma-related memories, feelings and body sensations
  • Learning how to regulate strong emotions
  • Building or rebuilding the capacity to trust others
  • Making sense of unexpected emotional reactions
  • Discharging pent-up ‘fight or flight’ energy

I draw from a range of disciplines. Taking an integrative approach, we will always work collaboratively and take a holistic perspective. We are not just our ‘symptoms’ although they may be what lead people into therapy. My aim is for us to look together at the whole person, and that might mean physical, mental, emotional or spiritual aspects, since all of these work together to build up our sense of identity and meaning in life.

Starting from a solid base of trust, we may use targeted therapies such as EMDR in order to help build a greater sense of inner strength and resources and process traumatic memories. We might also use other creative modalities such as visualization, art work and creative writing. These can be very helpful to express parts of the self that are difficult to access through spoken words.

Training in EMDR and a personal experience of illness and recovery has led me to a far wider view of what constitutes healing from trauma than in the past. I am more aware of just how complex and subtle this work is and also that healing can arise in the oddest places and is utterly personal. Thus listening, flexibility, a diverse range of possible ways of working, time and curiosity seem to me to be important along with a clear and dedicated space that is entirely yours in which to explore what is meaningful for you.

I aim to create a safe space for you to engage in this healing process.


EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprogramming) began as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is currently recommended as the main treatment approach for this (together with trauma-focused CBT) by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence).

Recently EMDR has also been found to be effective with Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Phobias, Grieving and Attachment Issues (namely, problems in forming happy and lasting relationships as a result of difficult experiences, especially in childhood, like abuse, neglect, loneliness, bullying etc.).

EMDR is based on the assumption that specific experiences from the past continue to affect people in the present. Through a process that addresses the mind, body and emotions simultaneously, EMDR helps the processing of disturbing information that was held in the nervous system. Excess negative emotions, distorted self-assessments and disturbing physical sensations are decreased. People learn what was useful from their past experiences, have more positive beliefs about themselves, and generally experience increased feelings of peace and psychological well-being.

EMDR therapy can help you to alleviate and manage emotional distress by developing and strengthening your internal coping resources as well as tapping into and processing problematic memories.

EMDR can be effective for single traumatic memories and also for recovering from long term patterns of abuse.

Contact Me

If you would like to contact me please call or leave a message on 07733 276854, or get in touch by email using my secure online contact form.

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