EMDR is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and is a tactic to help people work through trauma and associated events. EMDR is non-traditional therapy that’s increasing in acceptance, especially for treating PTSD, which people can suffer after military service, bodily harm, or assault. It’s important to note that because client stability must come first, EMDR is not used to process trauma when a client is actively drinking, abusing drugs or taking anything else that suppresses their feelings. It is utilized during inpatient treatment, as well as outpatient care.

How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR therapy uses a standard set of practices to help you shift disturbing memories from the emotional side to the rational side of your brain to mitigate the emotional responses you have when you’re triggered by the memory.

This is accomplished through a procedure called bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation involves stimulating both the left and the right sides of your brain. Most times, this is performed by a therapist moving their finger back and forth while the patient follows it with their eyes. Therapists may also stimulate both sides of the brain using sound.

When this happens, the memory is dislodged, and the patient can process it. Over time, most find that their not as easily shaken by memories of the past or when they recall the event. The goal is to have the memory to become less distressing. Patients are more able to live more wholly in the present moment and move forward toward a healthy and fulfilling life.

EMDR and Addiction

EMDR relates to addiction in a very particular way, trauma to be specific. Addiction professionals have found that numerous people have experienced trauma, or afflictions like PTSD also have significant addiction issues. Researchers have also found that these experiences can result both in several disorders, as well as in a lowered immune system. EMDR has shown promise as a potential addiction treatment option for those in residential or partial hospitalization treatment programs.

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