If you’ve had a medical trauma that you have never emotionally recovered from, then EMDR therapy may be right for you.  EMDR therapy is often the treatment of choice for recovery of the psychological effects of all kinds of trauma- this includes the painful and distressing symptoms of medical trauma.

What constitutes medical trauma?

Medical traumas get activated from undergoing surgeries, hospitalizations, invasive treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, or any medical procedure that leave you feeling especially powerless, helpless and overwhelmed.  Traumas happen when we are in situations that we can’t control, where we are vulnerable, trapped, in pain and dependent on others who may not be responsive to our needs.  Getting medical treatment that we need is just the kind of situation that can cause trauma and lead to difficulties later on so even if we have healed physically, the psychological effects can linger.

What kinds of symptoms occur with medical trauma?

Symptoms of stress, anxiety, worry and fear are common.  Sleeplessness can occur, inability to relax, nightmares and sometimes flashbacks of the event.  In severe cases, behavior can get more restricted and people avoid doctors or are afraid to go into hospitals.  Unreasonable fears can predominate and take over as people will do anything to avoid the situation happening again.  I have also seen people traumatized by just observing someone else going through a medical procedure or illness.   Witnessing a loved one’s suffering and being unable to do anything about it can be an awful, helpless feeling.  Afterwards, feelings of guilt can arise even if in reality there was nothing the other person could do to alleviate the pain.  We get traumatized by situations where our feelings are too overwhelming to handle and can also take the blame unconsciously though we are not at fault.  These feelings and beliefs about ourselves can plague us for a long time unless we have a corrective healing experience. EMDR therapy offers that opportunity to heal.


When you have had a medical trauma, it is easy to feel hopeless about finding your way out of it.  It is important to know that many traumas do heal- some in a natural, organic way with time and others need  the extra support that therapy can offer.  EMDR therapy was developed specifically as a treatment for trauma.  To learn more about EMDR therapy, click here.  Please feel free to call Marlena Kushner, MFT for a free phone consultation at (415)563-2759, or email her at






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