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EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy for Addiction Treatment

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy is used in addiction treatment to approach trauma and emotional distress which might underlie the addiction. While originally developed to treat trauma patients, EMDR is now extremely popular in rehab centers, especially those offering a holistic approach to addiction recovery, by treating the underlying emotional, traumatic, and social aspects of addictive behavior.

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What is EMDR

EMDR was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, through a series of experiments showing lateral eye movement and its effect on emotional responses. She developed a series of lateral eye movement techniques, blended with existing behavioral and cognitive therapy, to create a technique focused on desensitization, physical movement, and retraining emotional and behavioral response.

EMDR is vastly different from CBT in that patients are asked to focus on specific instances such as triggers while performing lateral eye movement exercises. In most cases, this translates to following a guide with the eyes, which typically creates quick and jerky movements to force the brain to disassociate with what is being discussed and visualized. EMDR’s primary approach is to continue to expose you to triggers and emotional responses so that you become desensitized and are less likely to relapse when you encounter them on your own. EMDR also incorporates components of CBT and behavioral therapy, teaching coping mechanisms such as processing emotions and developing mindfulness as part of its core treatment.

EMDR and Dual Diagnosis

EMDR is especially useful for treating substance abuse patients with a dual diagnosis because it successfully treats the underlying symptoms such as trauma, depression, anxiety, and stress. As a form of therapy originally designed to treat trauma, EMDRs approach of desensitizing users to emotional responses such as cravings and triggers while treating underlying symptoms such as behavioral problems anxiety or depression, make it a good choice for effectively treating both at once. EMDR is both effective at treating trauma and effective at treating addiction, making it an ideal choice for dual diagnosis patients.

How Does EMDR Addiction Treatment Work?

EMDR breaks addiction treatment into 8 phases, starting with learning about the patient and their needs. Here, the therapist reviews the user’s total health and emotional history, working to identify what is causing problems. EMDR is also broken down into several components including exposure, where patients are exposed to triggers and stress points to desensitize them, cognitive restructuring, where patients are directly encouraged to change harmful thought patterns and behavior, assignments, where patients directly build skills and work through problems, and strong therapist/patient relationships.

EMDR addiction treatment isn’t for everyone, but it does offer several benefits over traditional therapy in that it approaches addiction from the basis of trauma and emotional problems. By teaching users to deal with stress and emotional problems and forcing users to face rather than avoid triggers, plus a long review stage to ensure goals have been met, and EMDR can be extremely helpful in recovery. The dual approach of focusing on mental problems alongside coping and stress also makes it ideal for treating dual diagnosis patients.

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, we can help. Lighthouse Treatment Center’s rehab in Orange County, California is a safe place to begin your journey to a new life. Call us today at (855) 934-1100 for a free consultation.