Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an acronym for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. This therapeutic practice supports individuals in healing from the trauma that is frequently at the base of addiction. It indicates that the mind, like the body, can heal from stress. In general, it appears that there is a link between the rhythm of someone’s eye movements, which is comparable to when they enter REM sleep, and the connection of the traumatic memory. Similar to other therapies, having patients recall those experiences while activating their eyes can help reprocess how that memory is stored and lessen the strong sensations connected with that memory.

This technique is effective for addiction treatment since the trauma is a frequent cause of drug use. Individuals experiencing mental anguish as a result of trauma may self-medicate in order to alleviate their symptoms. They can only recover if the trauma that created their symptoms is addressed. EMDR treatment promotes the healing process by helping people in reprocessing traumatic situations.

EMDR consists of eight treatments, and a typical exercise demonstrating EMDR’s effectiveness involves a professional focusing on the patient’s past, present, and future in relation to traumatic events.

How Does it Work?

EMDR therapy consists of a number of components. It is divided into eight phases and focuses on past experiences, current circumstances, and good future actions. The idea is for people to feel empowered as a result of distressing occurrences.


The initial part of treatment is the identification of upsetting memories or circumstances by therapists and clients. Understanding the topics helps therapists in developing therapeutic strategies. Additionally, they examine the development of behaviors and abilities that clients will require in the future. This planning step often requires only one treatment session but may require more.


In the second phase, therapists ensure that their clients acquire skills for coping with emotional pain. They may offer a variety of stress-reduction techniques that participants can employ during and between sessions. The goal is for their customers to maintain equilibrium while undergoing rapid and effective transformation.


The next four steps commence the EMDR treatment processes. Clients must recall a clear vision of their experience and distinguish between negative and positive self-perceptions. They must also be able to articulate the feelings and physical sensations they experienced throughout the incident. Following that, therapists ask clients to rank their negative and positive beliefs. The patients are then instructed to concentrate on their memories, negative beliefs, and sensations. In the meanwhile, therapists employ bilateral stimulation techniques such as tones, taps, or eye movements.

After the stimulation, therapists tell clients to allow their thoughts to wander and watch what occurs. Then, depending on the information provided by the clients, they determine the next stimulus. In a single session, therapists repeat this technique multiple times. They adhere to established guidelines to assist clients in regaining their footing if they are experiencing difficulty advancing or are disturbed.

When clients express little emotion regarding their experiences, therapists ask them to consider the discovered positive beliefs. Clients can adjust their beliefs in the face of future upsetting occurrences. As EMDR treatment advances, the negative beliefs’ scores should diminish. Simultaneously, scores for positive beliefs should improve.


The seventh phase of EMDR treatment is premised on closure. Therapists frequently request that their clients keep a journal. It should cover everything significant that occurs during the sessions. The journal provides a reminder of the strategies they’ve developed for self-calming.


The last phase begins at the commencement of the next EMDR therapy session. It entails assessing the clients’ development thus far. Additionally, it evaluates their past, present, and future events.

Treating Addiction

Because of the use of EMDR in addiction treatment, many addictions are linked to prior trauma. The assumption is that by addressing this trauma, the individual suffering from addiction will have less of a need for drugs. The therapy process is divided into eight stages. Phase 1 consists of identifying emotional distress; phase 2 consists of imagery and additional stress reduction techniques; phases 3 through 6 require the patient to identify negative self-beliefs, vivid visuals, and related emotions; and phases 7 and 8 require the patient to seek self-calming techniques and the therapist to evaluate the patient’s progress.

EMDR therapists address a patient’s addiction from a trauma-informed viewpoint. This enables them to evaluate each case as an individual, examining the core cause and contributing causes to each person’s addiction. As a result, EMDR can play an important part in addiction therapy. Many persons who suffer from drug abuse issues have PTSD that may be diagnosed. As a result, EMDR as first-line therapy is a reasonable approach that can substantially benefit a patient and lower their chance of recurrence.

Finding EMDR Treatment

If you or someone you care about suffers from addiction and has previously failed at recovery, EMDR may be beneficial. EMDR is being offered by an increasing number of treatment clinics as a means of treating the underlying reasons for addiction. If you believe you could benefit from this, or if you are unsure, speak with a therapy professional. They are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to discuss treatment alternatives with you.

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