Letting Go of Trauma with EMDR Therapy
Author: Atlanta Addiction Recovery Center Editor
For those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, coping with past trauma is vitally important to the recovery process. When underlying emotional issues aren’t addressed or resolved, the chance of relapsing becomes much higher. To date, standard talk therapy has been the mainstream method of treatment to help patients move past painful, traumatic memories. Although effective, it can take years to see the results. But an innovative psychotherapy treatment known as EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is now being used and has shown incredibly fast results—sometimes with just a few sessions.
David Hopkins, LPC, MS and therapist at AARC, specializes in EMDR therapy. Since implementing EMDR into his practice, David is amazed with the transformation he has seen in his patients. “I believe that EMDR has been a huge game changer. When treating patients, I’ve seen how life-altering the effects can be and I’ve witnessed the major shifts that take place as my patients overcome their struggles.”
How EMDR Therapy Works
EMDR was developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro in the 1980s, after she noticed that rapid eye movement helped alleviate emotional pain caused by her own traumatic memories. Today, EMDR is being used as a groundbreaking technique bringing much-needed relief to those in recovery.
Research shows that EMDR can alleviate emotional blockages and reprocess memories in a way that lessens the powerful hold they have on an individual. During an EMDR session, patients are asked to focus on a traumatic memory while following the finger motions (or wand) of the therapist with their eyes. Experts believe that the series of rapid eye movements stimulates the brain in a way that helps release negative emotions that have somehow become “stuck”. The process is then repeated several times until the patient feels less emotionally triggered by the painful memory. Over time, the emotional reaction caused by the memory diminishes, allowing healing to take place.
The Effectiveness of EMDR in Addiction Recovery
Over the past thirty years, Shapiro has published a number of studies in peer-reviewed journals on the effectiveness of EMDR for PTSD and many other anxiety disorders. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Psychiatric Association and the International Society also recommend EMDR for Traumatic Stress Studies.
David has been using EMDR to treat those struggling with addiction for years and now brings his expertise to the patients at AARC. He explains how EMDR can be used as a method to “re-boot” the brain.
“It shifts the trauma away from that frozen state in the brain to a much more healing place. EMDR is almost like a computer defrag. It helps to make sense of some very dark traumatic memories. It can help patients see parts of their experience that they have blocked and are crucial for them to understand in order to move on. EMDR really helps the person revisit those traumas in a very detailed manner, and it often times offers the missing link to provide the healing that they so desperately need.”
Moving past traumatic memories can be one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome in the recovery process. Now, with the use of EMDR combined with other treatment methods, patients are able to move past their trauma and focus on their health and recovery.