Overcoming the emotional pain of past trauma is essential to recovery. Addressing the underlying mental health issues that have contributed to addiction facilitates the healing process and helps prevent relapse. At AARC, we offer a groundbreaking therapy that has produced transformative results, sometimes in just a few sessions. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR therapy) is an integrative psychotherapy that uses a series of rapid eye movements and standardized protocols to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, panic disorder, depression and emotional trauma.
EMDR Therapy for PTSD
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies recommend EMDR therapy for PTSD. Heavily researched and proven effective for the past thirty years, experts believe that EMDR therapy is a powerful tool that works to stimulate the brain to release negative emotions and alleviate emotional blockages that have somehow become “stuck”.
EMDR therapy is based on the theory that every experience in our lives, both positive and negative, is stored within the network of our brain. Each experience we have builds upon the next, creating our own internal beliefs and influences how we interact with the external world. Our reactions to certain events, people, places and things are essentially controlled by these past experiences. This is wonderful when the memories are positive, but when trauma occurs, unprocessed negative memories and emotions can lead to extreme anxiety, stress, fearfulness and depression. EMDR therapy, combined with other treatment methods, is offering hope and healing to patients with PTSD and other mental health disorders so that they can move past their traumatic memories for good.
How EMDR Therapy Works
Prior to beginning EMDR therapy, our specialists at AARC will perform a comprehensive assessment to ensure that a patient is a good candidate. The therapist will work with the patient to identify the past trauma or emotional triggers that have been most troubling for them in their life. After a thorough intake of the client’s history has been completed, an individualized treatment plan will be established.
During a session, an EMDR certified specialist will ask a patient to focus on a traumatic memory while prompting them to follow their finger (or a wand) with their eyes. The series of rapid eye movements works to stimulate and reprogram the brain, allowing the patient to feel less emotionally triggered by the painful memory with each subsequent session.
Over time, the process is repeated until the reaction caused by the traumatic event has been significantly diminished. In addition to EMDR therapy for PTSD, there is a strong emphasis on developing healthy behavior and coping skills for dealing with trauma in the future. The results can be life changing—offering patients the missing link that allows them to focus on their health and sobriety rather than past emotional pain.
Individuals who are a good candidate for EMDR may have experienced:
- Physical, sexual or emotional abuse
- An extreme illness
- Feeling emotionally or physically unsafe as a child
- Combat or experienced the threat of combat
- A life-threatening event or witnessed a traumatic event
- Having been a victim of a crime
- The death of a loved one in childhood (a parent or sibling)
- Bullying as a child
- A natural disaster
- Extreme embarrassment as a child
It is important to understand that EMDR therapy does not just help those who have been through a horrible crisis or event. People who have experienced trauma due to job loss, divorce, relationship problems and other difficult life events can experience PTSD as well as other anxiety disorders.
Those who can benefit from EMDR therapy for PTSD may have:
- Unexplained worry or fear surrounding certain events or situations.
- A negative response or reaction to certain people because they remind them of someone else.
- Persistent negative beliefs.
- Unexplained negative reactions to everyday life situations.
- Fear of death, illness or a fear for one’s safety.
Moving on from past traumatic memories can be one of the toughest hurdles to overcome in the recovery process. Now, with the use of EMDR therapy combined with other treatment modalities, many people are able to move past their pain and focus on their health, happiness and recovery.
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