Trauma Related Disorders & EMDR

McLean Counseling Center

What are Trauma Disorders?

Trauma disorders are mental disorders that are related to a traumatic experience or very stressful event. Trauma is subjective, but common examples that may trigger a disorder include abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, losing a loved one, or being in a natural disaster. Trauma disorders cause fear, extreme anxiety, stress, depression, and other negative emotions.

They may even cause nightmares and flashbacks. A trauma disorder also affects a person’s behaviors and may cause anger, violent outbursts, social withdrawal, loss of interest in activities, and many other negative repercussions, such as loss of work and relationships. Trauma disorders are manageable and can be overcome with consistent, professional treatment.

Examples of trauma disorders include:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – a mental health disorder that some people develop after they experience a traumatic event.
  • Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) – a mental health problem that can occur in the first month after a traumatic event. The symptoms of ASD are like PTSD symptoms, but they must occur over the span of more than one month to be considered PTSD.
  • Adjustment Disorder – a short-term condition that happens when a person has great difficulty managing, or adjusting to, a particular source of stress, such as a major life change, loss, or event.
  • Childhood Trauma Disorders – a group of emotional and behavioral problems that may result from childhood traumatic and stressful experiences

Treatment for Trauma Disorders

While trauma disorders cause a lot of distress and impairment, they can be treated and managed with help from a mental health professional. Our mental health professionals offer treatment that can help our patients recover, learn to process and cope with the traumatic memories, and begin to live a normal life again.

Treatment for trauma disorders involves trauma-focused psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that focuses on how to change and control triggers, negative emotions, and unhelpful responses has proven helpful for people struggling with trauma disorders. In addition, exposure therapy can be used to help patients cope with their trauma. This involves creating a safe environment in which to “expose” individuals to the things they fear and avoid. The exposure to the feared objects, activities or situations in a safe environment helps reduce fear and decrease avoidance. Another therapy
 used for trauma disorders is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. For more information on EMDR therapy, see further down on this page. In addition to psychotherapy, medication is also sometimes helpful for patients with trauma disorders to treat co-occurring anxiety or depression.

Here at the McLean Counseling Center, we will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan to help you work through past traumas and move towards a brighter future.

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy is a robust, evidence-based psychotherapy approach that is culturally neutral, cost effective, and remarkably effective when applied correctly by a well trained and skilled practitioner.


Promotes resilience and improves coping skills, leading to posttraumatic growth.


Can be used safely with children of all ages, adolescents, adults and the elderly.


Is one of the most thoroughly researched psychotherapies for posttraumatic stress disorder.


Endorsed by the World Health Organization as a front-line therapy for trauma

Sam Y. Lee, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor
Adults, couples, marriage therapy, trauma recovery.

Sam Y. Lee has 18 years, providing various modalities of treatment including a combination of techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Family Systems Therapy, trauma recovery, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) among others.

What is an EMDR session like?

After the therapist and client agree that EMDR therapy is a good fit, the beginning sessions will involve discussing what the client wants to work on and improving the client's ability to manage distress. When ready for the next phases of EMDR therapy, the client will be asked to focus on a specific event. Attention will be given to a negative image, belief, emotion, and body feeling related to this event, and then to a positive belief that would indicate the issue was resolved.

While the client focuses on the upsetting event, the therapist will begin sets of side-to-side eye movements, sounds, or taps. The client will be guided to notice what comes to mind after each set. They may experience shifts in insight or changes in images, feelings, or beliefs regarding the event. The client has full control to stop the therapist at any point if needed. The sets of eye movements, sounds, or taps are repeated until the event becomes less disturbing.
EMDR therapy may be used within a standard talking therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment all by itself. The length of time spent in treatment with EMDR therapy varies according to your history, biological makeup, internal strengths and life experiences. In general, treatment is typically briefer than with some other forms of psychotherapy and is therefore often more cost-effective, yielding results sooner.

What Are the Conditions EMDR Can Treat?


Anxiety, Phobias


Eating Disorders


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Depression, grief and loss


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Dissociation


Performance anxiety


Recent and long-term trauma, Sexual trauma


Relationship difficulties


Chronic Pain, Migraines and many kinds of headaches, Phantom limb pain

(703) 821-1073

1307 Vincent Place McLean, VA 22101

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