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EMDR Therapy

A disproportionate number of people struggling with substance abuse have a history of trauma. Unresolved trauma can prompt people to abuse substances to distract from or numb the pain. Thankfully, there are numerous effective drug rehab centers to help with substance abuse and its underlying trauma. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) may be an ideal treatment when trauma is a factor in addiction. For more information about EMDR and other services, contact The Arbor Behavioral Healthcare at 844.413.2690 or reach out online to find out if the Arbor experience is right for you.

therapist using emdr therapy

How Does Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy Help Heal Trauma?

During EMDR, a client thinks through a troubling memory in detail within the safe space of the therapy session. While they do this, they receive bilateral stimulation. This can be accomplished in multiple ways but most often involves the client tracking the therapist’s finger as it moves back and forth. Many studies demonstrate that just six to twelve EMDR sessions of about an hour each can substantially reduce the impact of the trauma being addressed.

This therapy is so effective has to do with how trauma is stored in the brain. When a traumatic event occurs and a person cannot move on, the memory of the event is effectively stuck in their brain. The left hemisphere, associated with logical thought, can self-soothe the right hemisphere, associated with emotional processing. In the case of trauma, cross-hemisphere communication is impaired. However, by thinking through their trauma while receiving bilateral stimulation, clients can kickstart their brains’ natural ability to self-soothe. This allows them to replace negative self-beliefs with positive ones and develop fresh insights.

Eight Steps of EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy can be understood in eight steps:

  • Taking the Client’s History: In the first phase, the therapist takes a comprehensive client history and helps them identify their most disturbing trauma memories, triggers in current life, and goals for recovery.
  • Preparation for Therapy: In phase two, the client receives an explanation of what treatment will look like and self-regulation training. This empowers them to take care of themselves if the work becomes too intense at any point.
  • Taking Stock of Target Memories: Before beginning the actual desensitization process, the therapist helps the client activate the memories they’ll work with and determine what sensations and cognitions come up. Specifically, the therapist records the client’s stated thoughts, affect, image, and body sensations related to each memory. The client may also rate how valid they believe certain thoughts are and how disturbing certain emotions are.
  • Desensitizing Trauma Memories: The client engages in side-to-side eye movement or another form of bilateral stimulation while consciously focusing on their trauma memory. They then report any new thoughts or memories that arise, and the therapist may use these to guide future EMDR sessions. The process continues until the client can work through the trauma memory without distress.
  • Installing Positive Cognitions: The therapist helps the client replace negative self-beliefs with positive cognitions.
  • Scanning the Body: The client takes stock of their physical responses while engaging with trauma memories. They then receive further bilateral stimulation to process these physical components.
  • Closure: Any target memories not fully processed are contained using special techniques to be safely held until the next session.
  • Determining Next Steps: The final step occurs during the following session. Client and therapist evaluate the client’s mental state, assessing whether previous desensitization remained intact, what new memories might be emerging, and what the focus should be for the current session.

Find EMDR Therapy for Addiction Recovery Near Austin, TX Now

Hundreds of thousands of people who suffer from trauma or PTSD have benefited from EMDR. If you think you or your loved one’s addiction has a trauma component, contact The Arbor online or by calling 844.413.2690 to learn more about how this powerful therapeutic model could help.