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Benefits of EMDR for Trauma Survivors

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It can be challenging to move past a prior traumatic experience and overcome feelings of hurt, fear, pain, and guilt. You may become depressed and feel like you are to blame. Unfortunately, many people who struggle with trauma turn to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms, leading to addiction. Fortunately, EMDR for trauma survivors can help overcome the trauma when undergoing addiction treatment. 

What Is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is a type of psychotherapy. It was created in the late 1980s by Francine Shapiro. The therapy involves using various rapid eye movements along with a second form of stimuli, such as a tapping sound, to help the individual focus on specific moments related to their traumatic experience. 

Another component of EMDR is using the adaptive information processing (AIP) model. This model teaches the patient how to use positive experiences and focus on those while addressing negative emotions and feelings associated with their traumatic experience. 

In addition, rather than verbally talking about the traumatic experience, EMDR requires the patient to focus mentally on specific parts of the experience and gradually let go of the negative emotions and feelings associated with each piece.

How an EMDR Therapy Session Works

An EMDR therapy session moves through different phases. It can require more than just a few therapy sessions to work through each of the different phases. There are eight phases a person will move through with assistance from their therapist as follows:

Phase 1: Patient History and Treatment Plan

Before you can begin EMDR, the therapist needs to learn more about your traumatic event and personal history, including substance misuse, to create an appropriate treatment plan. The therapist will involve you when creating your treatment plan, so you feel comfortable with the treatment objectives.

Phase 2: EMDR Therapy Preparation

In this phase, the therapist will review how EMDR works and the techniques involved, and answer any questions you may have. They can also walk you through multiple exercises to help you be prepared for your EMDR experience.

Phase 3: Assessment

In the assessment phase, you work with the therapist to uncover your triggers related to your traumatic experience. Next, you determine what emotional impacts the trigger has on you. Then work with the therapist to learn how to use positive experiences to help you address and let go of your negative emotions and feelings tied to the trigger.

Phase 4: Desensitization

This phase is where you begin the actual EMDR therapy. First, the therapist will guide you through the rapid eye movements and serve as a guide as you focus on one specific part of the trauma. Then, once you have focused on it, you will use the skills you learned in the previous phase to apply positive experiences to it.

Phase 5: Installation

Installation is the process where you continue to apply positive experiences to replace negative feelings and emotions.

Phase 6: Reevaluation

Once you move to the sixth phase, you and the therapist will reevaluate the trigger to determine if the trauma associated with it has been fully addressed. If it has not, then you will repeat phases four and five until it is. 

Next, you and the therapist will return to phase three and address the next trigger. This process continues until all trigger points associated with the trauma have been treated.

Phase 7: Closure

The closure phase is a crucial phase. You and the therapist will review your traumatic event to determine whether all the negative feelings and emotions associated with it have been addressed. Your therapist will also ask if you feel your emotional responses to the event have improved. 

If not, you will return to phase three and continue the process. You will do so until you are satisfied your emotional state is much improved.

Phase 8: Final Reevaluation 

The last phase is a review of all the previous phases with your therapist. The objective is to ensure you developed sufficient coping skills and can apply them when you feel a trigger related to your trauma. 

If you feel you are not yet capable of doing so, or if your trauma has not been resolved, you go through the phases again. This allows you to continue working on improving your coping skills until you are confident you can apply them when needed. 

The Benefits of EMDR for Trauma Survivors with Addictions

EMDR is not just for treating traumatic experiences. This therapy can be used to help treat addiction as well. It helps the patient focus on specific aspects of addictive behaviors and identifies the emotional responses experienced. The same phases are used to help release any negative emotions and feelings associated with the addiction while replacing them with positive ones.

Other benefits of EMDR for trauma survivors with addictions include:

  • It is a drug-free treatment method.
  • It can help the patient understand how their trauma led to addiction.
  • It makes it easier to process events by focusing on one specific point at a time.
  • It enables the patient to learn effective coping skills for trauma and addiction. 
  • Ongoing EMDR in aftercare can help the patient maintain sobriety.

EMDR Therapy for Trauma Survivors with Addiction in Murfreesboro, TN

At Tulip Hill in Murfreesboro, TN, we can help you take the first steps to overcome your traumatic experience and addiction with our customizable treatment programs. We offer EMDR therapy and other effective forms of psychotherapy while providing a caring, safe, and supportive environment. Contact us today for further information about EMDR or to start your treatment.

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