EMDR Therapy for Addiction

EMDR Therapy

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a form of treatment in which bilateral eye movement reduces the emotional stress of negative memories. This type of therapy is often used to treat addiction, self-esteem issues, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and more. When a person undergoes this form of therapy, they will be asked to recall a traumatic memory – for someone who suffers from an addiction, they may recall triggers that causes them to feel anxiety and a craving to “use” again. When the therapist incorporates eye movement desensitization, the person typically feels less anxious about the triggers, ameliorating the effects of their trigger on them.

EMDR Works in Eight Stages:

  1. History and treatment planning –The first step of the process, a therapist learns about the patient’s history and develops a treatment plan. During this, the therapist may ask what the problem is, the person’s behavior surrounding the problem, and other symptoms experienced.
  2. Preparation – In this phase, the therapist will teach the patient some techniques for dealing with emotional disturbances as they arise. This is also where the patient and therapist build trust, which is extremely important for moving on to the advanced stages.
  3. Assessment – The therapist then determines which aspects of the patient need to be targeted. Here, the patient selects an image from their memory to represent the triggering event, and is asked to provide a clear and concise statement that accurately reflects how they feel when confronted by their trigger. The patient is also asked to create a positive statement that they wish to replace it with.
  4. Desensitization – As the patient recollects triggering moment, the therapist moves two fingers in front of the patient, with their eyes following them. These sets of eye movement help assign a new connotation to triggering memories.
  5. Installation – During this phase, the patient focuses more on the positive message they stated earlier. By this time, the patient has already become desensitized to the harsh memory, recognizing their stance now and the strength that they truly have. The therapist works with the patient to adopt the positive phrase as part of their new belief system.
  6. Body scan – The patient is then asked to recollect the triggering thought to see if there are any more physiological responses to it. If there are, the therapist targets those responses for further reprocessing.
  7. Closure – At the end of each meeting, the therapist aims to ensure that the patient feels better at the end of the meeting than how they felt at the beginning.
  8. Re-evaluation – At the beginning of each session, the therapist continues to check on the person to make sure that they are no longer negatively affected by their triggering thoughts, and to confirm that they have adopted their new, positive belief.

EMDR therapy has been shown to help thousands of people recover from triggers and traumatic memories. If you or a loved one suffer from an addiction or a mental illness, you may want to consider asking a licensed therapist about this option of therapy. Thankfully, we have so many resources available that can truly help people overcome negative thoughts patterns. The key is to find out which form of treatment works best for you.

When you’re making a decision to change your life, you need a program you can trust. Avalon Malibu provides trusted results. Offering both primary mental health and substance use treatment, our full continuum of care seeks to heal mind, body, and spirit. For a confidential assessment and more information, call us today: 888-958-7511

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