The Forge Recovery Center

What is EMDR?

Trauma is often what drives drug addiction, which is why addressing trauma is key to successful recovery. It’s a very complex emotional response, and there are many different ways to address trauma’s symptoms and effects. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based, effective treatment for trauma utilized at The Forge Recovery Center.

EMDR is administered by trained professionals. It uses visual, audio, and physical stimuli to relieve the symptoms of trauma and encourage recovery.

What is EMDR?

How Does EMDR Work?

During EMDR therapy, a person focuses on positive beliefs about themselves while a therapist guides them through recalling a traumatic event. As the person recalls the event, the therapist gives them a series of rhythmic stimulations via moving lights, sounds, or touches. Called “bilateral stimulation,” this encourages the person to relax, think about their trauma without fear, and get perspective on their problems. There are three specific areas EMDR targets:

Traumatic memories

Memories about traumas can be extraordinarily vivid. These intense memories often drive people to self-medicate for relief.

Coping skills

By helping people understand there are healthy, positive coping mechanisms for past trauma, they’re able to see how harmful self-medication is.

Present stress

Memories about traumas can be extraordinarily vivid. These intense memories often drive people to self-medicate for relief.

Where Did EMDR Come From?

Psychotherapist Francine Shapiro, PH.D. developed EMDR after noticing her eye movements seemed to help her process the emotions linked to her traumas. Early experiments seemed to show eye movements helped others process their traumas. For Shapiro, however, that wasn’t enough. She combined eye movement exercises with therapeutic components and called the results eye movement desensitization (EMD).

Additional tests showed EMD was particularly helpful for those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Inspired, Shapiro further refined her work. By 1991, she gave it its current name. Later in the decade, Shapiro’s research was successful enough that a textbook on EMDR was published, and the therapy was no longer considered experimental.

Is EMDR Effective?

There’s still debate over EMDR. Studies seem to show it’s an effective therapy, especially for PTSD. Kaiser Permanente provided funding for a study that showed trauma patients no longer had PTSD after repeated EMDR sessions. An additional study showed 12 EMDR sessions removed PTSD symptoms from combat veterans.

According to the EMDR Institute, the American Psychological Association, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the World Health Organization have all recommended EMDR as a therapy for trauma.

The Forge Recovery Center has clinicians trained in EMDR. It’s one of our most popular therapies for addressing trauma and is very effective at helping people achieve lasting recovery.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.