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EMDR treatment works by using eye movements to assist patients become desensitized with negative emotions that come as a result of a traumatic event. The treatment reprocesses those memories and transforms them into something that is more positive. The actual EMDR treatment process is not as simple and easy as stated. The treatment may, also, vary with different practitioners. The treatment should never be attempted by any untrained professional.
During an EMDR session, the professional therapist will require and request the patient to think those traumatic memories they have had then follow a moving object or light with their eyes only. The therapist will then request them to think of a positive memory while still following the light or the object. The patient will be required to alternate between the positive and the negative thoughts at some particular intervals. This alternation of positive and negative memories will allows the patient to be desensitized to the trauma and to start associating it with more positive emotions. The eye movement – for some reason that has not yet been known – assists in this crucial process.
The minimal research that has been done on the EMRD technique does not in any way reflect in the rate of success the technique has yielded. The success rate speaks volumes to the efficiency of this form of therapy. Other than reducing the physiological and psychological responses to traumatic events, it works rather fast. An idea that could hint on how this process works is that the eye movements resemble what happens during the sleep cycles, REM (Rapid Eye Movement). During REM sleep is the period in which the brain processes information and it may be the time that the sleeper gets to put different events into different perspectives and changes how they feel about them. It is, also, a known fact that REM helps reduce anxiety.
When addicts go to rehabilitation centers or supports groups, much of what they experience is what has always been done. Often, the addiction treatments are based on personal beliefs and philosophies rather than facts, research and rate of success. Looking at the other side of psychology and psychiatry, most of the treatment methods and techniques are backed up by concrete scientific and medical evidence. It is not strange to note that sometimes these two worlds coincide and the some of the research used in the psychiatric world cane be of great help to persons struggling with addiction.
Dr. Francine Shapiro is the one who discovered and highly advocated for the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. The therapy has proven to be effective in treating people who struggle to stop thinking about traumatic events they experienced. According to her, the idea came to her several years back when she was on a walk. She had a difficult time repressing thoughts that disturbed her and found out that moving her eyes back and for the helped recede those memories. She established EMRD Institute where she had been treating victims of all trauma types and addicts too. Many practitioners have, since then, taken up the therapy and recorded great success.
Bad experienced from those experienced during childhood to the most recent can have a serious impact on someone’s life. Some of these experienced can actually render us ineffective and not able to function well in life. These traumatic memories cause serious physiological and psychological responses. Extreme instances such as with people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the effects of the memories may include insomnia, anxiety, depression and self-destructive behaviors.
Trying to forget these memories is what most people always look to do. Unfortunately, that is not the case and actually may work against a person. Among the therapies that have been used in past to treat less severe trauma causes include learning healthier ways to handle the resulting stress and symptoms.
EMDR and Addiction
In as much as the mode of working of EMDR is not yet fully understood by anyone, it has proven to be quite effective in tackling all manner of traumatic memories. Trauma form the basis of many conditions. If the trauma is revealed, then the resulting issues can be reveled too. EMDR brings relief to those suffering from depression, PTSD, eating disorder and chronic physical pain.
Most recently, EMDR has proven to actually work with people who struggle with addiction. Most people get addicted when trying to repress traumatic memories. When these memories are suppressed, then the need to abuse substances disappear. In as much as it is not a perfect cure, EMDR has proven to be a powerful therapy to addicts. And additionally, it offers almost immediate results. If the therapy is combined with support groups and other therapy types, it can be quite helpful.