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Understanding EMDR Treatment

Understanding EMDR Treatment [Addiction Therapy Treatment]

Posted: October 5, 2020 by in Hope Recovery Addiction Center

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an interactive psychotherapy technique to relieve psychological stress. It is an effective treatment for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This type of therapy is a relatively new and nontraditional type of psychotherapy. It is growing in popularity and is also to treat other conditions, such as:

  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Addiction

This eye movement therapy for trauma unusually approaches psychological issues by not relying on talk therapy or medications. Instead, EMDR uses a patient’s rapid, rhythmic eye movements to dampen the power of emotional memories of past traumatic events.

If you are struggling with addiction and are ready to try something new, then we can help you. Do not lose hope. Call 918-779-0011 today to be connected with a treatment center that fits your individual needs.


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new, nontraditional type of psychotherapy that is growing in popularity.

Marijuana Addiction and the Best Treatment

Benefits and Side Effects of EMDR Therapy

During EMDR therapy sessions, the patient relives traumatic or triggering experiences in brief doses while the therapist directs your eye movements. An EMDR therapist will ask you to follow their finger or lights moving back and forth in front of your face. Then, they will ask you to focus your eyes on that movement. Simultaneously, the therapist will ask you to recall a traumatic event, including all the emotions and body sensations that go along with it. Gradually, the therapist guides you to shift your thoughts to more pleasant ones. The goal is that your traumatic memories will become less disabling. This will allow you to expose traumatic memories and thoughts without having a strong psychological response.

Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy, people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to achieve is often a common assumption. Severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. This therapy is safe, with fewer side effects than prescription medications.

However, there are some side effects that you may experience. EMDR therapy causes an increase in awareness, which does not end immediately when a session does. This can cause light-headedness and vivid, realistic dreams. The beginning of therapy may be exceptionally triggering to people starting to deal with traumatic events. This is precise because of the heightened focus. While the treatment will likely be useful in the long run, it may be emotionally stressful to move through the course of treatment.

Eight Phase Therapy Sessions

EMDR therapy has eight different phases. Therefore, the client must attend multiple sessions. There are approximately 12 separate sessions that last up to 90 minutes each. It’s important to note that EMDR should always use a comprehensive treatment plan. Never attempt it without appropriate training, preparation, and the opportunity for reevaluation. The eight phases are as follows:

  1. History and Treatment Planning: A therapist reviews your history and decides where you are in the treatment process.
  2. Preparation: The therapist helps you learn several different ways to cope with the emotional or psychological stress you’re experiencing.
  3. Assessment: The therapist identifies the specific memories and all the associated components (such as the stimulated physical sensations when you concentrate on an event) for each target memory.
  4. Desensitization: This phase of treatment encompasses all responses, regardless of whether the client’s distress is increasing, decreasing, or “stuck.”
  5. Installation: The focus is on “installing” and increasing the strength of the positive thought that the client has identified to replace the original negative thinking.
  6. Body Scan.: After installing the positive cognition, the client holds the target event in mind and identify any residual tension.
  7. Closure: The client must return to a state of equilibrium at the end of each session, regardless if reprocessing is complete.
  8. Reevaluation: The client then evaluates the progress after these sessions; the therapist will do the same.

If you are interested in more information about the eight phases, then please contact us today. Our specialists will help you figure out the best course of treatment for you and your needs.

Effectiveness of EMDR Therapy

EMDR is effective because recalling distressing events is often less emotionally upsetting when diverting your attention. More than 20,000trained  practitioners use EMDR since psychologist Francine Shapiro developed rapid eye movement therapy in 1989. While walking through the woods one day, Shapiro happened to notice that her own negative emotions lessened as her eyes darted from side to side. After case studies, she reported that EMDR resulted in significant decreases in distress ratings and increases in ratings of confidence in a positive belief.

EMDR appears to be a safe therapy, with no known adverse side effects. Still, despite its increasing use, mental health practitioners debate EMDR’s effectiveness. Critics note that most EMDR studies have involved only small numbers of participants. However, other researchers have shown the treatment’s effectiveness in published reports that consolidated data from several studies. More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy. A study funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims were no longer diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions.

There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is an effective form of treatment for trauma and other experiences. Organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, and the Department of Defense also recognize this. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, it is easy to see how EMDR therapy would effectively treat patients. It can help with the “everyday” memories that people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and other issues that bring them to therapy.

EMDR Therapy for Addiction

EMDR treats PTSD, but the treatment’s possibilities are expanding. This type of therapy can play a central role in addiction treatment since trauma often plays a central role in addiction. It effectively targets the origin of substance abuse disorder to help patients overcome both trauma and addiction.

EMDR practitioners require additional training in addiction to target aspects such as drug cravings. Using this therapy with a client takes a great deal of preparation for both trauma and addiction. EMDR is most effective when part of a comprehensive plan for treating addiction. Treatment plans must also include appropriate social supports and teaching of new lifestyle skills.

During an EMDR session, a client may experience physical sensations, recall memories and thoughts, and experience intense emotions. Therefore, individuals who participate in EMDR need to have complementary resources to help in the healing process. It’s thought to be particularly useful for patients to talk about their past experiences. With EMDR, each client participates in a calm and safe place exercise before he or she starts processing trauma, where slow eye movements bring clients to a peaceful, relaxing place. They can use their calm and safe place as a coping resource to work through any disturbances that may arise throughout their EMDR treatment.

EMDR therapy enables patients to confront and treat the deeper emotional traumas that initially led to substance abuse. Patients of EMDR therapy often report that their cravings disappear as they discover a more positive and confident sense of self.

Addiction is hard to battle. Especially if you are going through it alone. However, you do not have to go through this alone. We are here to help you. Call our experts today, and they can provide you with more information about what treatment options may be best for you.

Is EMDR Therapy Right for You?

A right candidate for EMDR is someone ready and willing to work through trauma. Additionally, this individual is committed to staying for the whole duration of his or her treatment and is mentally and emotionally stable. Treatment can be anywhere from 28 to 45 days. An inpatient treatment center’s support is helpful during EMDR therapy because they monitor clients throughout the day. Additionally, they will have staff nearby for help. EMDR is also meant to work in conjunction with traditional substance abuse treatment and should not be the main focus of treatment. It is a supplemental treatment approach.

Even the most enthusiastic supporters of EMDR have yet to agree on how the therapy works. At this point, only theories exist. EMDR, in some respects, borrows basic principles used in prolonged exposure therapy, which is the gold standard behavioral psychotherapeutic treatment of PTSD. Some therapists believe that EMDR reduces anxiety. Anxiety is often a characteristic that leads one to an addiction of some sort. Also, lessening stress allows patients to take control of their upsetting thoughts better. Others say that we don’t yet understand how EMDR works. According to the APA guidelines, EMDR needs further study to be fully understood.

If this type of therapy interests you, then our specialists will work with you to find a treatment center that uses EMDR therapy. Please call 918-779-0011 today to take the first step toward recovery and addiction-free life.


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