What is EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, was first developed in the 1980s by Francine Shapiro, a therapist who noted the connection between eye movements and her clients’ thoughts of traumatic events in their past. She started using those eye movements to help them heal, and EMDR therapy was born. Because of the connection between traumatic events and substance abuse, therapists began using EMDR on people seeking recovery, and the method has been proven incredibly effective.

Why does EMDR work?

Eye movement affects how the brain processes information and stores it in your memories. Qualified therapists can utilize your eye movements to help you heal and turn negative memories into more positive ones. Since addiction often stems from abuse, victimization, injury, and other trauma, using EMDR to heal the mind’s processing of these events can remove the motivation to abuse drugs or alcohol. 

Symptoms of the trauma that can be relieved by using EMDR therapy include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Nightmares
  • Isolating behavior
  • Addiction

How does an EMDR therapy

session work?

The first step in EMDR therapy is to recall the negative memory that is causing your trauma response. You’ll relay to your therapist what you feel, hear, think, see, and believe about the events, and in turn, your therapist will lead you through eye movements and other brain stimuli while you focus on the memory.

You’ll also attempt to focus on positive thoughts about the event. Therapy sessions will continue until the traumatic event affects you less, both mentally and physically, and until you begin to associate positive feelings with the event (such as knowing you did the best you could, the event was not your fault, etc.).

While you may find yourself feeling emotional during your sessions, the goal is to guide you to a place where you feel significantly less disturbed by past events so that you can move confidently forward on your recovery journey.

(Source: emdr.com)

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