What is EMDR?

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What is EMDR and How is it Used to Treat Addictions?

EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been researched extensively and has been proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols incorporating elements from many different treatment approaches. Today, this therapy has helped millions of people, all ages, who suffer from some type of psychological stress or trauma.  The use of EMDR in the treatment of addiction is a modern and effective technique that has proven beneficial to many in recovery from addiction.

There are 8 phases of treatment for EMDR:

  1. History and Planning
  2. Preparation
  3. Assessment
  4. Desensitization
  5. Installation
  6. Body Scan
  7. Closure
  8. Reevaluation

Each client’s history determines the amount of time it will take to complete treatment. Complete treatment involves a three-pronged protocol: one for past memories, two for present disturbance, three for future actions. All three prongs of this method are needed to alleviate the symptoms and address the complete clinical picture.

The goal of this therapy is to completely process the experiences that are causing problems as a result of some sort of trauma. Many times the trauma can be caused by an event related to addiction, or the chaos of addiction.

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The EMDR process does not mean talking about “it,” or that traumatic experience. Processing with EMDR means setting up a learning state that can allow experiences that are causing problems (such as addiction or some other form of chaos), to be digested and stored appropriately in your brain.

Whatever is useful to a person from an experience will be learned, and then stored with appropriate emotions in your brain. These stored emotions will be able to guide you in positive ways in the future. The inappropriate emotions, beliefs and or body sensations will be discarded. Negative emotions, behaviors and feelings are generally the cause of unresolved experiences that happened earlier in life, pushing a person in the wrong direction.

EMDR therapy will leave a person with the emotions, perspectives and understanding that will lead to healthy and useful interactions and behaviors, allowing that person to become happy, joyous and free.

Addiction and EMDR Therapy

Many individuals with substance use disorders have also experienced one or more traumas. Treatment for these co-occurring disorders can be integrated and the use of EMDR can be helpful for many people. EMDR was not intended for Addiction Treatment, however, in the 1990’s it was discovered that many people dealing with and being treated for addiction, also suffered from trauma or PTSD.

For some, past trauma is a contributor to addiction itself, as alcohol or drug abuse can be a means of self-medication, blocking out or escaping from the harmful memories. Sometimes, people suffer from trauma during the drug abuse use. Unfortunately, it is often that an addict will have been sexually assaulted while under the influence. In cases such as these, the substance use is likely to continue unless the trauma feeding the addiction can be addressed and healed.

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In regards to triggers and cravings

Bilateral stimulation is a common method used in EMDR Therapy that reduces anxiety and PTSD symptoms increasing impulse control and emotional regulation. Anaheim Lighthouse offers group therapy focusing on stimulating both sides of the brain by using additional techniques.

The Trauma-Related Use of EMDR

EMDR can be applied to many situations including:

  • Sexual Abuse such as rape and or molestation
  • Physical injuries stemming from a range of accidents or intentional violence
  • Emotional Abuse
  • War-related trauma
  • Post Traumatic Stress
  • Addiction Related Trauma

It is important to remember that many times during treatment for addiction, a person can become stuck or feel as if there are unidentified barriers preventing he or she from healing their addictions and overcoming that pain completely. EMDR Therapy is an effective tool to help resolve these issues, promoting inner healing and inner peace.

Anaheim Lighthouse is a licensed and accredited addiction treatment provider offering EMDR Therapy to all clients, especially those who may suffer with addiction-associated trauma issues. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction or alcoholism, call us today.

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