Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, or EMDR Therapy, is the process of revisiting a difficult memory and taking away the power of the recalled event or experience. This therapy can be challenging in the early stages. This is because it forces you to focus on that difficult memory and keep it in your active memory. However, sticking with EMDR in the long-term can have incredible results.
What does EMDR treat?
EMDR is used by therapists as a way of removing the sting of a difficult memory or experience. For example, if you are a survivor of a serious accident or a violent event, the memory of that bad thing may stick in your mind. From this you could develop deep fears or a phobia. You may become frightened of driving, of being out after dark, or of leaving your home. While the lessons you learned from the bad event may in fact be keeping you safer, they’re also cutting into your life and taking away your chance for new experiences.
What Does EMDR Look Like?
To the person undergoing therapy, EMDR can actually be very distracting. A traumatic memory or self-destructive thought pattern is called up in your memory. As you focus on that difficult time, attitude or feeling, you’re also asked to follow the finger movements of your therapist. This action of your therapist moving their hand will make it hard for you to focus on the difficult memory or feeling. Over time, your therapist will introduce happier thoughts, memories or feelings into the therapy process.
How Does EMDR Help with PTSD?
One of the big challenges for those who suffer from PTSD is that their body often goes through the same stressors that they originally suffered during the original trauma. For example, if you were hurt in a car wreck, your PTSD trigger might cause you to revisit the panic leading up to the wreck. Likewise, the anxiety and pain that occurred after the impact. This panic, anxiety and pain are real to you, even if you’re not physically injured.
By calling up the event, holding the long-term memory in your short-term memory storage, and disrupting it with EMDR hand movements, your therapist can lessen the power of the memory. As the memory becomes disrupted, it can be displaced with positive or neutral thoughts. Shaking up the power of the original event can be extremely troubling. This therapy cannot be done lightly and should only be attempted by a skilled, certified professional.
EMDR and Addiction
Many people who struggle with addiction suffer from underlying problems or co-occurring disorders. If you maintain the attitude that you can’t successfully give up an addictive substance because you are weak or are destined to be a failure, then a co-occurring disorder of crippling self-esteem issues is making it even harder to focus on your addiction. Furthermore, if your co-occurring disorder is trauma-based, it could be holding you back from long-term recovery.
EMDR offers your brain a chance to shake off bad memories and abusive feelings. Experiences and feelings that have become entrenched in your brain can be jarred loose by a qualified therapist. By teaching your brain that these feelings and memories are, in fact, something you can be distracted from, EMDR can help you to release the importance that experience and life have placed upon them. Yes, you may be safer if you never drive again, but you will also miss out on a lot of life.
The addiction that you’re fighting may be crippling. It may have caused a lot of damage in your life. You may feel that you don’t deserve happiness because you can’t beat the substance on your own. However, with EMDR therapy, you can be reminded that the pain of addiction is about more than the drug. Trauma from your past could well be telling you that you don’t deserve a healthy future. These brutal thoughts were often fed to addicts by adults who didn’t know better. Or perhaps were fighting their own battles.
EMDR therapy can lift the burden placed on you by people who simply didn’t know how to manage their own pain. By breaking away from the power of these thoughts, you can move into a more independent mindset, free of the poisons of abuse.
Trauma finds a home in our brain and becomes locked in place. In no small way, it becomes an unassailable truth that fights the healthy future we’re working hard to build. To break with trauma means wrestling old pain in today’s brain space. EMDR takes time. Prepare for long sessions, and multiple treatments to loosen the pain of your past. You, and your future, are well worth it.
Above all, know that you don’t have to struggle with addiction or co-occurring disorders on your own. Help is available. Call us today and see how we can help you break free from addiction and live the life you deserve.