If you’ve ever researched addiction treatment or trauma therapy, you may have come across the term eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. At first glance, this therapy looks incredibly complicated. The name on its own is a mouthful. The truth is, though, this type of therapy if fairly common for addiction treatment and can pair well with other types of therapy to help people process trauma and begin healing.
How Does EMDR Work?
To help people process trauma, EMDR needs to focus on more than just the past; it also homes in on the present and future over the course of eight phases. Each phase addresses a different component of trauma.
Before the treatment starts, the therapist will take a full history to identify areas of trauma, distressing memories, and anything currently causing emotional distress. Then, the therapist will begin moving through the different phases.
- Phase 1 – The therapist will begin working from the earliest trauma forward to help the client begin to process, giving them insight, and creating a treatment protocol.
- Phase 2 – During this phase, the therapist will begin working with the client on coping techniques for a variety of stressful situations so they can begin working through them on their own.
- Phases 3-6 – The meat of the work happens in phases 3-6. Here, the therapist will help turn negative beliefs and images into something more positive by using eye movement techniques, tapping, and tones. These vary depending on the client. The therapist checks in regularly with the client to see how they’re feeling and what difference the therapy practices are making.
- Phase 7 – At this point, the client should start keeping a regular log of how normally distressing situations make them feel. This allows them to learn more about which techniques are helping and whether the therapist needs to alter the treatment protocol.
- Phase 8 – The final phase calls for revisiting and reviewing. At this point, the therapist will work closely with the client to see what’s working well and decide what needs to be done going forward.
These eight phases can take just five hours or they can take five weeks. It all depends on the client’s needs and the extent of the trauma.
What are the Benefits of EMDR?
Originally, EMDR was solely used as a treatment for trauma. Therapists are finding that it can be beneficial for other issues, as well. Some of the most common ailments that EMDR is used to treat include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Panic attacks
- Eating disorders
- Chronic pain
EMDR is up to 90% effective in PTSD patients after just three sessions. In some cases, EMDR can be even more effective for treating trauma than cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
EMDR and Addiction Treatment
There are a few reasons that EMDR works so well for addiction treatment. First, individuals working towards addiction recovery often have co-occurring disorders, including PTSD. Treating physical or psychological addiction in tandem with PTSD treatment is an effective strategy for long-term recovery.
Additionally, addiction is hardwired into the brain since it involves doing the same things over and over again. EMDR helps to rewire the brain thinks and creates new connections that help steer the individual away from addiction.
Holistic Therapies and EMDR
EMDR on its own is useful but when paired with holistic therapies such as yoga, mindfulness, and energy healing, it can provide even more benefits. Learning how to handle day-to-day stressors is a critical part of phase 2 of EMDR, which is where holistic therapies can come in.
If you or a loved one is currently dealing with addiction and ready to begin the process of recovery, RAIN Recovery can help. We are a whole person recovery center located in Encino, CA. Give us a call today at (818) 208-9446 or contact us on the website to speak to an admissions counselor