EMDR Therapy

EMDR stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.” EMDR therapy is a form of psychotherapy that has been proven successful in treating victims of trauma.

EMDR TherapyEMDR is sometimes incorporated into a treatment plan for substance addicts. Those who have suffered from addiction can attest firsthand that trauma, of some sort, is usually a part of an addict’s story.

Addiction is a terrifying disease of both the mind and body. A person may experience trauma and turn to alcohol and drugs as a way to cope. A person who becomes an addict sometimes experiences trauma due to the drug abuse itself and/or the lifestyle that addiction entails. The lifestyle alone can and does produce trauma or traumatic events in the addict’s life.

Here are some common ways in which addicts are affected by trauma:

  • Childhood trauma
  • Witnessing a tragic event
  • Abuse of all types
  • Grief and/or loss
  • Drug-induced episodes of panic
  • Unexpected major life changes
  • Divorce
  • Diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

All traumatic events are stored in the brain. The entire situation leaves an imprint on our psyche. All of the senses that were experienced with the trauma are also recorded. Trauma causes the brain to work harder than normal to process the experience. Often times, the brain is not able to process the trauma in the normal processing configuration of regular events.

Understanding Feelings of Trauma

Trauma TherapyThe feelings associated with the trauma are also stored in the brain, however, they are not easily accessed. The side effects of unresolved trauma can present itself in a number of unhealthy ways.

Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and extreme mood swings are a just a few examples of the ways your life can be affected due to unresolved trauma.

EMDR is designed to help activate the brain’s processing mechanism effectively in relation to trauma and/or traumatic events. Imagine, if you will, the trauma being “stuck” or “frozen”. EMDR will help move the ingrained trauma through the nervous system successfully.

This action of processing the traumatic material, in the manner of which ALL material is generally processed, will allow for true healing to take place.

  • Physical exams to eliminate other medical conditions like thyroid disease that could cause the symptoms
  • Mental health assessments, including interview with family members
  • A mood chart diary to record and keep track of daily moods and sleeping patterns
  • Using DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)

What to Expect at Your Session

Your EMDR therapy sessions will take place with a highly skilled psychotherapist. The basic components of a typical EMDR therapy session are similar to this outline:

  • Focusing on an upsetting memory
  • Identification of any negative beliefs associated with this memory
  • The act of choosing new and positive beliefs to replace the negative ones
  • Sensory perceptions that took place at the time of the memory will be explored
  • The therapist will use an external stimulus that creates side to side movement for you to focus on
  • The therapist will typically use a moving light to help create bilateral eye movements
  • You will relay the memory, in its entirety, while focusing on following the light
  • When the memory is no longer troubling, this portion is complete

The science behind this form of therapy asserts that the quick processing of information is quickly changed from a source of painful beliefs to a new and positive outlook.

We have provided a brief and general overview regarding EMDR therapy. This approach of therapy is not “cookie-cutter.”

Each person in recovery who undergoes EMDR therapy will have a tailored treatment plan that is specific to them. Some addicts complete all phases of EMDR therapy in less time than other addicts. This is not a barometer of how “well” one is doing in their therapeutic process.

EMDR Therapy Is Not a Race

Every person is different and everyone’s recovery plan is not identical. EMDR therapy can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. It is imperative to remember to practice excellent self-care throughout the process of EMDR therapy. Your therapist will advise you to be gentle with yourself and accepting of where you are in your development.

We suggest seeking out other recovering addicts who have participated in EMDR therapy. Personal experience, strength and hope can be of great value.

The decision to undergo EMDR therapy is a courageous decision. EMDR therapy has the power to change your life for the better.


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