Addiction is a complex condition that often has mental health issues or trauma at its core. Those suffering from PTSD, for example, also present high rates of lifetime substance use disorders. The reason for this significant correlation is that so many turn to substances as a way to cope or escape from their past, using drugs or alcohol to numb painful memories.
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a revolutionary treatment used in rehab that focuses on healing psychological trauma so that you can overcome your addiction and move forward with your life.
What is EMDR therapy?
First developed in 1987 by psychologist Francine Shapiro, EMDR is now a popular form of psychotherapy used to treat trauma and addiction. It works on the basis that past disturbing events have not been appropriately processed in the brain, and these unprocessed memories will continue to trigger symptoms of addiction and mental health disorders if left untreated.
The goal of EMDR is to change the way these traumatic memories are stored in the brain. The therapy involves the use of eye movements, tapping and other bilateral stimulation techniques to help you process traumatic memories and reduce the negative emotions associated with the memories that trigger cravings.
The techniques used in EMDR therapy work by alternately stimulating each hemisphere of the brain, resulting in better communication between these hemispheres. This flow of information unblocks negative associations and helps you to achieve optimal brain function so you can focus on recovery.
EMDR therapy at rehab: what to expect
Attending addiction therapy for the first time can be daunting, but knowing what to expect from your EMDR session can help to take away any anxieties or apprehension you may feel. EMDR therapy follows eight key phases led by a fully qualified therapist.
Phase 1: History
Your addiction therapist will gather information on your history of trauma and current symptoms to determine if EMDR therapy is appropriate for your individual situation.
Phase 2: Preparation
Your addiction therapist will help you to develop coping skills so that you are able to manage any distressing emotions that may arise in the EMDR therapy session. This may include relaxation techniques that you can use as a resource during therapy.
Phase 3: Assessment
Your addiction therapist will ask you a series of questions so that you can pinpoint specific memories that may be causing you to engage in addictive behaviours.
Phase 4: Desensitisation
Your addiction therapist will guide you in a series of eye movements, auditory tones or taps while recalling the traumatic memory, which helps the brain to reprocess the memory and reduce the emotional intensity associated with it.
Phase 5: Installation
You will then work on replacing negative emotions or beliefs with positive ones, essentially changing how the brain associates with this specific memory.
Phase 6: Body scan
Your addiction therapist will guide you through a body scan, checking to see if there are any residual physical sensations or emotions related to the memory.
Phase 7: Closure
Using relaxation techniques, your addiction therapist will gradually assist you in coming out of the session, helping you to feel calm.
Phase 8: Evaluation
The last phase will assess how you are feeling, ensure that there are no lingering disturbances and evaluate the progress that has been made.
The benefits of EMDR therapy for addiction
While at first glance EMDR therapy may seem like an intense and potentially nerve-wracking experience, there are actually many benefits associated with this type of treatment. Some of the benefits of EMDR therapy include:
- Reduced symptoms of PTSD: EMDR therapy has been found to be particularly effective in treating PTSD. It can help you to process and integrate traumatic memories, which can reduce symptoms that may lead to substance addiction, such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares and flashbacks.
- Relief from anxiety and depression: EMDR therapy can also help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by addressing the underlying traumatic experiences that may be contributing to these conditions.
- Improved self-esteem: EMDR therapy can help you to develop a greater sense of self-worth and confidence as you work through your past traumas and gain a better understanding of how these experiences have impacted your addiction.
- Enhanced emotional regulation: EMDR therapy can help you to regulate your emotions more effectively, which can be particularly helpful if you struggle with intense feelings of anxiety or fear.
- Effective relapse prevention: Studies have shown that EMDR therapy can significantly decrease cravings and reduce the likelihood of addiction relapse.
Taking part in EMDR therapy under the guidance of a trained therapist can help you to overcome trauma and heal from your addiction. With the help of our team, you will gain a sense of freedom as the weight of your troubles is lifted.
Can I take part in EMDR therapy at Banbury Lodge?
Banbury Lodge offers EMDR therapy as part of our comprehensive addiction treatment programme. By using this form of therapy alongside our various other treatments, you will be able to better process trauma and co-occurring mental health disorders that may push you towards substance abuse.
With Banbury Lodge, you can also take advantage of individual and group therapies, including:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
- 12-step programme
- Sound therapy
- Art therapy
- Yoga and meditation
Banbury Lodge is proud to offer a well-rounded rehab treatment programme that places your success as its number one priority. By using EMDR in conjunction with other therapies, you will be able to discover what works best for you and your own personal journey.
If you are ready to begin your addiction treatment, or if you have any questions related to EMDR therapy, call our admissions team to get started.