Valiant Living Blog

Why Has EMDR become So Popular For Recovery?

Written by Valiant Living Recovery on Thursday, July 4th, 2019

One of the recent trends in therapy is using EMDR. Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) was discovered in 1987 by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., as a way to process traumatic memories and has since become an efficient type of therapy to deal with the pain of the past. EMDR is a method to get to the root and the cause of the pain from trauma which is why there is no wonder why EMDR is an attractive approach to those who are in recovery. 

Someone who has had to deal with trauma in their life may try to suppress their pain and agony as a way to cope in the short-term. In the long run, however, their coping mechanism of stuffing their feelings surrounding the trauma will eventually run its course and cause someone to abuse drugs or alcohol or establish mental health issues. Although an individual might believe that avoiding the trauma altogether is their best option, getting help for trauma through therapy such as EMDR has been shown to work. 

What exactly is EMDR?

Life experiences that could be deemed disturbing such as loss, violent acts, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, or addiction, are all circumstances that can be harmful to a human being. These disconcerting memories are used as part of the healing process when EMDR is being administered to a patient by their therapist. 

The therapist will move their fingers back and forth in the field of vision of their patients while asking them to recall the events of the past. The bilateral eye movements are a way to stimulate the brain just like during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep to awake the internal association with the pain. As the EMDR begins to emotionally infiltrate the mind, the body could certainly be affected by the negative sensations that are associated with the painful recollection that is taking place. The point is to take the painful memories that continually resurface as though were happening in that present moment and transform them into an emotional part of their past. 

How Does EMDR Work?

Through reprocessing the memory with EMDR, the thoughts that a person has of their past are meant to be accepted as just part of their past. They believe they were victimized because they had it coming to them; that everything that happened was their fault; or if they had only done something different to prevent the trauma then it might not have happened at all

On the other side of EMDR, patients can change their thought process on the situation. They will understand that they were a victim of an unfortunate event, but they can instead shift their feelings of disdain surrounding the circumstances and replace the negative feelings to positive ones of strength and survival. To recover from a painful past, a person must change their perception from seeing what they want to see, into seeing the absolute truth which can be found in the process of EMDR.

Will EMDR Help With Addiction Recovery?

More therapists and rehabilitation centers have started to use EMDR as part of their holistic therapeutic modalities over recent years. Since trauma is deeply associated with substance abuse, the key to relapse prevention can be found by accepting the past for what it is and then moving forward with a lighter load in their recovery. Even persons who have long-term sobriety have found solace in the results of EMDR because getting sober and working a recovery program does not mean that everything will be remembered all at once. Persons who have used drugs and alcohol to black out and numb their feelings can have more of a difficult time retrieving those memories that are so crucial in helping them to stay sober. EMDR over time can help them to recall the events that were never meant to be relived and reprocess them in treatment.

What Does Treatment Entail?

EMDR is devised into 8 different phases that are designated to teach someone with trauma how to empower themselves.

  • The therapist will probe with their history of trauma in Phase 1 to discern the best way to approach treatment for them specifically. Part of this equation is looking at the age they took on the trauma and how much trauma took place. 
  • Phase 2 gives the patient tools to cope with all of the work they are doing in their EMDR sessions to allow for stress reduction. 
  • When a patient gets to Phase 3-6, they will begin to understand the physical, mental, and emotional effects of their trauma and how to start using them to their advantage. 
  • During Phase 7, the patient will begin to journal about all their feelings and the changes taking place by documenting any material relating to their EMDR sessions. 
  • For Phase 8, the patient will summarize what happened up until that point with EMDR to see what is working and what still needs work.     

EMDR has made a difference in the lives of those who honestly want to positively change their thinking. Instead of the brain and the body going into overdrive for protection from any triggers of the past, there is a way out with EMDR.  The main objective is learning how to respond to the present without letting the past interfere any longer.

Offering a full range of recovery and mental health services, Valiant Living offers “Expanded Recovery” to enrich our clients’ lives in mind, body, and spirit. Through evidence-based therapy options and the endless adventure of Colorado, Valiant fosters connection, encouraging clients to get connected to themselves, their peers, their families, and their higher power. With the power of recovery, clients are restored to full health and experience life-changing healing. Call us today for more information: 303-536-5463