EMDR therapy

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.

EMDR therapy

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.

EMDR therapy - woman feeling anxiety relief

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
  • Mindfulness

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.

Frequently asked questions

What is EMDR therapy used for?
EMDR therapy can be used to treat a variety of addictions, including drugs, alcohol, behavioural and eating disorders, with trauma at their core. EMDR is a useful tool in the treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders, including PTSD, anxiety and panic disorders.
Why is EMDR controversial?
The resurfacing of past trauma must be done with care, and there have been previous concerns that the EMDR process could be distressing. It has the potential to cause mild side effects, including vivid dreams, anxiety, feelings of lightheadedness and headaches. Despite this, however, EMDR remains an effective treatment and is recommended by the NHS.
Does EMDR therapy work for everyone?
Despite its recognisable success, not everyone resonates with EMDR therapy or will benefit from its practices. As this therapy primarily focuses on trauma, it is not recommended for someone who has not experienced specific traumatic events. Your unique circumstances may find other therapies more helpful, which is why Banbury Lodge offers a full treatment plan.
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Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 3757