EMDR is nontraditional and unique, differing from most other types of therapies used by counselors treating trauma. Although controversial in some circles, many psychologists have seen benefits from this type of therapy.
It is used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including addiction. EMDR is offered at The Bluffs in conjunction with other treatments in order to improve outcomes for patients.
What Is EMDR?
Therapists use EMDR to diminish the negative emotions and symptoms you experience because of a traumatic history. The goal of therapy is to help you fully process the negative beliefs and feelings associated with traumatic events until you’re able to let them go.
Specific eye movements directed by your therapist are used to facilitate this process.
EMDR is dramatically different from talk therapy, which is one of the most common approaches used to deal with patient trauma. While talk therapy focuses on the details of the traumatic event itself, EMDR focuses on the feelings and other symptoms associated with the event.
EMDR is non-invasive, but the process of desensitization can sometimes be upsetting for patients, especially in the early stages.
If you participate in this type of therapy at The Bluffs, our experienced EMDR therapist will make sure treatment moves at a pace that is appropriate and comfortable for you.
EMDR Treatment Process: Early Stages
In your first EMDR sessions, your therapist will spend most of their time focusing on understanding the traumatic events you have experienced. However, in most cases, you won’t be required to go into as much detail about these traumas as you would during talk therapy.
Instead, your therapist will only acquire the facts needed to move forward. At this time, you’ll also be asked to discuss any symptoms you experience due to past trauma.
Symptoms may include:
- negative feelings
- harmful thoughts
After learning about your thoughts, symptoms, and beliefs associated with your trauma, you’ll work with your therapist to decide which beliefs need to be maintained and which should be replaced. You’ll also focus on the specific symptoms you want to eliminate.
EMDR Treatment Process: Middle Stages
Next, you’ll begin the process of desensitization to eliminate these symptoms. During desensitization, you’ll be asked to remember a traumatic event while you move your eyes in accordance with the therapist’s direction.
The goal of desensitization is to guide you as you fully process the negative feelings associated with the event. Eventually, you’ll be able to let them go.
EMDR Treatment Process: Later Stages
In later sessions, you’ll spend time reinforcing your positive and helpful beliefs and feelings. Therapy will end when you reach a point where you can bring up memories of your trauma without experiencing the bothersome symptoms you had prior to treatment.
The length of treatment required for patients undergoing EMDR therapy varies. Your therapist will be able to give you an estimate of how many sessions may be required based on your situation and your progress in treatment.
How Does EMDR Help With Addiction?
Many patients who struggle with addiction have a history of trauma. In fact, for some patients, drugs or alcohol are used to deal with the negative symptoms of trauma in an unhealthy way.
Addressing these symptoms directly with EMDR can help you overcome your addictions and live a sober life while also enjoying better overall mental health. EMDR can also be helpful for patients who have a dual diagnosis related to trauma, such as anxiety or PTSD.
Combining EMDR With Other Treatment Methods
At The Bluffs, EMDR is used in combination with other forms of therapy to ensure that you have the best chance of making a full recovery.
If you choose The Bluffs as your addiction treatment facility, our experienced team of treatment professionals will work closely with you to determine whether EMDR would be a valuable addition to your treatment plan.
Other therapies that may be recommended and/or used in conjunction with EMDR include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, peer support groups, recreational activities, education, and expressive therapies like art or music therapy.
EMDR At The Bluffs
If you’re interested in learning more about EMDR or the treatment process, the first step is finding the right therapist. At The Bluffs, we partner with a trained EMDR therapist who will complete an assessment of your needs and help develop your individualized treatment plan.
We also offer a wide range of other therapies that can be used in conjunction with EMDR. Please contact The Bluffs today to learn more.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for PTSD