Left undiagnosed and untreated, trauma, whether from childhood abuse, natural disaster, or repeated exposure to highly stressful situations, can damage the brain and cause dysregulation, anxiety, and depression and making us more susceptible to addiction.
EMDR is different from traditional talk therapies. EMDR helps your brain heal itself through eight different phases over 12 sessions. Using either lights or gentle tapping on the hands or legs, the therapist will walk you through re-connecting the two hemispheres of the brain, so stuck memories are “processed” and integrated in a healing way.
The process of EMDR takes place over the course of several sessions, each one following a sequence for optimal healing:
After each set, the therapist asks you to clear your mind and notice what thoughts, feelings, or emotions arise and a new focus of attention may be used. Eventually, the power is drained from the event and your nervous system begins healing. This “resets” a hyperactive flight, fight or freeze instinct.
By definition, addiction is the repetitive use of a substance or behavior with increasing frequency, which over time becomes harmful or even fatal, resulting in serious consequences to one’s health, relationships, and well-being. Many addictions start as a way of coping with difficult emotions, problems with relationships, anxieties, or depression, especially related to painful memories or experiences.
EMDR is designed to neutralize those traumatic experiences and memories, so people don’t feel victimized and unable to cope and can create more positive ways of navigating life’s challenges. It also helps disrupts the connection between addictive “pleasure” and harmful behavior.
A study conducted by Hase et al. (2008) in the Journal of EMDR Practice and Research found that those with alcohol dependency showed a “significant reduction in cravings posttreatment and 1 month after treatment where TAU (treatment as usual) did not.”
Just like the body, the brain has its own way of healing from painful experiences and memories. However, traumatic experiences, especially repeated ones, are not always processed effectively. Instead, they linger in the body. As your body feels this stress, it goes into a fight-or-flight response.
If this response goes on too long, it creates an overactive stress system that can lead to a host of health issues, including (not surprisingly) addiction issues, stomach ailments, lowered immunity, and widespread inflammation and mental illness.
The combination of light, eye movement, and directed attention from a qualified therapist help unlock these negative experiences so you’ll have less of an overwhelming reaction to them.
Give us a call if you’re EMDR therapy for your healing. Our highly trained and EMDR certified and licensed counselors will assess if you’re a good candidate for it and guide you through the process as part of our holistic outpatient addiction rehab in Phoenix.