Trauma – How EMDR and Hypnosis can Help


Definition of Trauma

Trauma can be defined as an overwhelming experience that threatens or is perceived to threaten a person’s survival or well being. It often involves an experience that is out of the ordinary. It usually evokes intense fear, helplessness or horror. Trauma is a huge and complex field. There are varying degrees of trauma from the low grade, constantly-in-the-background kind to the life-crippling kind. Most people have some degree of trauma in their background that they have learned to live with, sometimes at a significant cost to their health and well being.

How Does Past Trauma Effect Me Now?

The answer to this question will be unique to you and your particular trauma. For instance, someone who grew up with an abusive, overly critical parent might have very poor self esteem and find themself using addictions to numb out. Although numbing out might have been a useful strategy growing up, because it lessened the pain of the constant abuse, later in life this person might find their life seriously compromised as a result.

Another person might have been chased and bitten by a dog as a child and consequently developed an intense fear of dogs. Every time they see a dog they experience a fight, flight or freeze response which will make it hard for them to respond in an appropriate manner to the situation.

Healing Trauma

I get many clients who have had therapy for years but are still plagued by trauma. This is because trauma cannot be healed through verbal therapy alone. Traumas are locked and stored in our muscular and cellular memory and cannot simply be reasoned away by the conscious, logical mind. I use somatic (body-mind based) therapies, which do not involve touch, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) and also hypnotherapy to help a person start to release long held traumas and move towards the life they want.

What Is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. EMDR is one of the most researched methods for working with trauma and is very popular, particularly with insurance companies because of its high and rapid effectiveness rate. People report improvement in as few as 1-3 sessions.

How Hypnosis Can Help

Hypnosis is another powerful vehicle for accessing the emotional body where trauma is often held. For some people it is more effective than EMDR.

I have been trained in a particular style of hypnosis called ‘Depth Hypnosis.’ Here is a description of what Depth Hypnosis is from the site where I received my certification:

“Depth Hypnosis is a highly effective model for self-transformation that combines elements of Buddhism, hypnotherapy, shamanism, and transpersonal psychology to accelerate and support the individual’s growth and healing process. It provides an opportunity to achieve profound and long-lasting results on a spiritual, emotional, and physical level for conditions of imbalance such as depression, anxiety, autoimmune dysfunction, addiction, and relationship dysfunction.”

I would add ‘trauma’ to this list of conditions that hypnosis can help with. I have had a lot of success in treating trauma or emotionally stuck places using depth hypnosis. For more about what a hypnosis session might look like read my article: Does Hypnosis Work?

Do You Suffer from Trauma?

Directions: Answer Yes or No

  • Do you frequently have a hard time sleeping?
  • Do you often have a hard time focusing?
  • Do you find yourself suddenly intensely irritable or angry for something that in the past wouldn’t have bothered you?
  • Do you find that your lifestyle is constricted by efforts to avoid certain people, places, things that remind you of past bad experiences?
  • Do you feel numb or detached much of the time?
  • Do you have recurrent dreams or disturbing and intrusive images, thoughts or flashbacks?
  • Do you feel like you overreact to things that wouldn’t bother others?

If you answered yes to 4 or more of these questions, chances are that you suffer from trauma. You do not have to live with these symptoms. Call Ondina at (415) 381-1065 for an assessment.

Getting Help

Getting help is as easy as making a phone call. Call Ondina at (415) 381-1065 now for a FREE initial phone consultation or to discuss any concerns or questions you might have, or e-mail:

I offer confidential individual and relationship/partner therapy at reasonable rates (sliding scale available) in Mill Valley.

  • EMDR trained
  • Certified Hypnotherapist
  • Evening appointments available
  • Blue Cross and most insurance companies accepted
  • GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) friendly
  • Partner/relationship (traditional, alternative and queer) therapy offered

Call for more information or to schedule an initial session: (415) 381-1065 or email at



It Didn’t Start With You – How inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle

By: Mark Wolynn
Excellent book on the intergenerational transmission of trauma and how to heal it.
(View Book)

8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery: Take-Charge Strategies to Empower Your Healing

By: Babette Rothschild. 2010.

A book filled with common sense that demystifies the trauma recovery process.

Beyond the Trauma Vortex into the Healing Vortex – A Guide for You

By: Gina Rossi. 2008.

This book is quite readable for non-clinicians and is written simply. It is also available in Hebrew.

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

By: Peter A. Levine Ph.D. and Gabor Mate M.D. 2010

A highly informative book on how to address and deal with trauma by the developer of Somatic Experiencing, one of the most comprehensive modalities for working with trauma.

Trauma and Recovery

By: Judith Herman. 1997.

A tried and true classic! If you are a survivor of any kind of trauma, read this book. A unique book on trauma, child abuse and PTSD.

Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy

By: Pat Ogden, PhD. 2006.

Written by the founder and director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, an internationally recognized school that specializes in training psychotherapists in somatic/cognitive approaches for the treatment of trauma.

Growing Beyond Survival: A Self-Help Toolkit for Managing Traumatic Stress

By: Elizabeth G. Vermilyea. 2000.

A useful workbook as an adjunct to therapy; includes grounding tools and more for managing stress and developing trust. Although it is geared more towards people who were abused as children or adults in relationship, it still has many useful tools for people with combat PTSD.

EMDR: The Breakthrough ‘Eye Movement’ Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress, and Trauma

By: Francine Shapiro and Margot Forrest

This book talks about EMDR as a technique, but also talks a lot about the impact of trauma on people and includes several case studies.

Ghosts in the Bedroom: A Guide for the Partners of Incest Survivors

By: Ken Graber. 1991.

For a quick read and lots of information this book is a good introduction. The author gives a quick overview of what lies ahead for the couple in a way that helps foster greater understanding.

Excellent resources for soldiers returning from war with reference to returning Iraqi and Afghan vets and families

Courage After Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and Their Families

By: Keith Armstrong,LCSW, Suzanne Best, PhD and Paula Domenici, PhD

After the War Zone: A Practical Guide for Returning Troops and Their Families

By: Laurie B Slone, PhD and Matthew J. Friedman, MD,PhD


Check out Peter Levine’s website for a plethora of useful articles and postings on healing trauma through the body.

Dr. Levine was a stress consultant for NASA during the development of the Space Shuttle. He has taught at treatment centers, hospitals and pain clinics throughout the world on healing trauma through the body using Somatic Experiencing, a powerful method he developed.

Laurie Leitch, PhD, and Elaine Miller-Karas, LCSW, are two excellent clinicians who founded their organization after receiving training in Somatic Experiencing with Peter Levine.

They have worked in Israel, Jerusalem, and other parts of the Middle East as well as internationally in Nepal, Tibet, and Thailand. One of their specialty areas is in healing combat trauma. They also post on Facebook, so you might want to take a look at their site as there are many references, articles, etc you might find helpful. Check out the Trauma Resource Institute for some excellent resources.

A website that organizes some of the most essential facts about how to treat anxiety and how to get help. It describes some techniques anxiety sufferers can try themselves and also discusses various other treatment choices.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a body-oriented talking therapy for the treatment of trauma developed by Pat Ogden, Ph.D., a pioneer in somatic psychotherapy and the treatment of trauma.

Founded by Bessel A. van der Kolk M.D., who has been an active clinician, researcher and teacher in the area of posttraumatic stress and related phenomena since the 1970s. The Center provides comprehensive services to traumatized children and adults and their families at the main office in Brookline, MA.