A traumatic experience can have a lasting and devastating impact long after the event is over. Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a holistic, integrative therapy used to help individuals overcome and recover from traumatic experiences by changing their internal relationships to the event.
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EMDR is a proven and effective treatment option for patients experiencing trauma, substance use disorders, addiction, anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions.
EMDR—an eight-phase treatment approach—focuses on the past, present and future by helping the brain reprocess traumatic memories and events. EMDR therapy integrates the mind and body to help patients understand that traumatic events are in the past.
Unlike other treatment methods for trauma, EMDR does not always involve reliving the traumatic experience and discussing it in-depth. Instead, EMDR therapy helps patients access the brain and body’s inherent capacity to process traumatic memories to help them heal.
Many patients experience significant, positive changes after just a few EMDR therapy sessions.
EMDR therapy for trauma and addiction treatment
Among the most common underlying factors of substance use disorders and other addictive behaviors are unresolved trauma, neglect and loss. Trauma and addiction have a cyclical relationship and can fuel each other. While cravings, negative belief patterns and overwhelming emotions are all factors that can pull an individual toward addiction, unprocessed trauma can also push someone into addiction. During EMDR therapy, attention is given to traumatic past events while supporting the development of skills to help patients overcome future obstacles.
EMDR therapy as a treatment approach for mental health issues
While EMDR is used to treat trauma and addiction, it is also an effective integrative treatment approach for those with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, phobias, eating disorders and other co-occurring disorders that can fuel addiction.
EMDR therapy resourcing process
Before starting the traumatic memory processing stage of EMDR, the clinical care team at Mirmont begins the therapy process with an introductory phase known as EMDR resourcing. This process helps patients tap into internal resources, strengths, positive memories and other healthy aspects of their lives.
During EMDR resourcing, forms of slow bilateral stimulation (back and forth tapping, vibration, eye movements and sound) are used to engage and soothe the nervous system while strengthening the different positive memories being activated. Patients often describe the EMDR resourcing process as calming, relaxing, peaceful, enlightening and even fun.
Clinical experts certified in EMDR therapy at Mirmont
Multiple clinicians at Mirmont Treatment Center are fully certified as practitioners and consultants in EMDR having received specialized training. EMDR clinicians hold individual therapy sessions with patients to help them understand and reprocess traumatic memories that may be contributing to or fueling addiction, grief and other mental health issues. The clinical team refers individuals to be assessed and treated by the trauma treatment team.
Since Mirmont is an inpatient setting, clinicians emphasize the first three phases of EMDR’s eight-phase model, including resource installation to provide self-soothing and affect regulation tools to help build stabilization skills. When clinically appropriate, the full EMDR protocol is utilized. Mirmont clinicians may recommend patients continue with the additional phases of EMDR therapy in an outpatient setting.