What Is EDMR Therapy Used For?

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Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, otherwise known as EMDR therapy, is a way to treat trauma and PTSD. Nowadays, we have extensive knowledge regarding addiction and recovery. That’s why we know that addiction is oftentimes associated with traumatic events and mental disorders. As a form of therapy that targets a person’s traumatic memories, EDMR is a great tool that can be used in addiction. We here at Bright Futures Treatment Centers believe that the best way to treat addiction is through using many different approaches that target your addiction from different aspects. When it comes to people with a dual diagnosis, EDMR is certainly one of the main tools that are to be used.

What is EDMR therapy?

As a form of therapy that was initially developed in 1987, EDMR is a treatment method that is used for targeting traumatic events and the symptoms of PTSD. Since EDMR is a treatment that targets one’s mental health, it has to be performed by a licensed professional. Likewise, this form of therapy has to be done individually, which is why a person has to attend by himself or herself. Treatments are usually delivered once or twice a week, with the total number of sessions needed being between 6 and 12. It’s possible for the sessions to be conducted on consecutive days, and it’s likely that some people will need fewer therapy sessions than others. However, you should never go into the process hoping that you will be able to get away with fewer therapies, as you should attend as many sessions as necessary for you to get the best results.

A doctor and a patient talking about EDMR therapy.
Every person is going to experience EDMR in a different way, as treatment is always a unique occurrence.

In essence, EDMR has people focusing on the traumatic memory that is causing the symptoms of PTSD. Keep in mind that this can be anything from domestic violence to different forms of abuse and any event where a person has felt unsafe. With this therapy, you focus on the memory while experiencing bilateral stimulation. Thus, the vividness and seriousness of the emotion get processed and reduced. While some other forms of therapy focus on altering the emotions that are associated with the traumatic event, EDMR has a different goal. It tends to change the way that memory is stored in the brain. This helps a person experience the event in a different, less traumatic way.

What is it used for?

As previously mentioned, EDMR therapy is used to treat any form of traumatic event and PTSD that stems from it. In the past, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been mostly used to talk about war veterans who have gone through difficult events. However, we know that there is a variety of different events that can result in PTSD in both males and females. People who suffer from this disorder have bad and vivid dreams, flashbacks, frightening and avoiding thoughts, as well as a host of other symptoms. That’s why those people find it necessary to seek different forms of therapy that could ease their symptoms. And EDMR happens to be one of the most effective ones around.

One of the main appeals of this form of therapy is that it doesn’t involve detailed talking about the event. Likewise, people don’t have to spend a lot of time between sessions on homework, which is a huge benefit for people with hectic schedules. Moreover, these treatment sessions usually produce faster results when compared to some other forms of therapy, which is also a great benefit. Of course, we believe that every minute that you invest in your mental and physical health is precious. We certainly respect our clients who are attending Inpatient treatment in FL and giving their health all of their time and energy. However, we can’t deny that if there’s a way to achieve the same results in a faster way, then it’s not such a bad idea to use it. And EDMR therapy could be the thing you have been searching for all along.

An old-school pocket watch.
One of the main benefits of this therapy is that it doesn’t require as much time as standard treatment.

The eight phases of EDMR therapy

If you have ever wondered how EDMR manages to help you process a certain memory in such a short time span, you should know that the processing takes place over eight phases. Each one of them is equally important for the final outcome. Clients will have to go through:

  • Phase one – History-taking
  • Phase two – The preparation
  • Phase three – Target memory assessment
  • Phases four to seven – The processing of the memory
  • Phase eight – Evaluation

Phase one

The first step is a pretty self-explanatory one. The therapist and the client will have a long and honest conversation about the client’s history and troublesome memories. This is a chance for the therapist to assess their client’s needs and identify the treatment targets. This phase is also important because it allows the client to talk about past memories, current triggers, as well as future goals. All of them are important in order to come up with the right course of treatment. We here at Bright Futures also focus on all three when working with our clients through Inpatient and Outpatient treatment in FL.

Phase two

In the second phase, the therapist will prepare the client how what is to come. They will explain the basics of EDMR. Plus, they will help the client practice eye movement and other components of this form of therapy. The goal of this phase is to ensure that the client has an accurate image of what the treatment is going to be like. That makes everything go a lot more smoothly.

Two women talking about EDMR therapy.
Treatment should take place in an environment where the client is going to feel safe and secure.

Phase three

Once you get to the third stage of this therapy, the real work is about to begin. This is the moment when the memory is going to be activated and targeted. Unlike regular therapy sessions, the therapist and the client are not going to simply talk about it. Instead, they will assess each of the four components of a memory – image, cognition, affect, and body sensation. For this form of treatment to be successful, it’s important to be thorough and target the memory from every aspect.

Stage four

The fourth stage is called desensitization. It’s also one of the most crucial stages of EDMR therapy. This is the moment for the client to focus on the memory in question while engaging in eye movements. After they are done doing so, they should report whether any new thoughts regarding the memory have surfaced. The therapist will then determine the focus of each set of BLS. Then, the process is going to be continued and repeated until the client reports that the memories associated with the event are no longer as distressing.

Stage five

The fifth stage has the goal of further enhancing positive cognition. Stage five also brings a person closer to finishing all eight stages. There will only be three remaining stages after this one.

Stage six

The sixth stage deals with bodily sensations. During this phase, the therapist is going to ask the client to monitor their physical response to the memory. It’s very likely that the patient is going to experience some sort of physical disturbance when thinking about the memory. It could happen that the patient reports having some negative feelings. In that case, the standard EDMR procedures are going to be used to process this occurrence.

A female psychologist.
It is the therapist’s job to monitor their client’s progress – both physical and emotional.

Stage seven

The seventh stage of EDMR therapy is supposed to bring closure. This is the moment when the therapist and the client are going to assess whether the memory was fully processed. If it turns out that it wasn’t, then the therapist is going to provide the client with some tools. These tools ensure they remain safe and unimpacted by the memory until the next session.

Stage eight

The final stage of the process deals with re-evaluation. The therapist should use his or her knowledge and expertise to assess the psychological state of the client. They are looking for signs that the treatment has been effective and that the memories have been safely processed. They also tend to monitor whether any new memories or thoughts have surfaced during the sessions. The final stage brings perfect closure to this process and, hopefully, both the client and the therapist can claim success.

How does EDMR therapy help with addiction?

We’ve already mentioned that addiction is closely related to trauma and mental disorders. Nowadays, it’s a known fact that most people suffer from the combination of the two. As an experienced drug and alcohol rehab center in Florida, we have more than enough real-life experience to attest to this fact. What we have noticed is that most of our clients are aware of the fact that they are suffering from both of these problems. However, it’s not always easy to say whether one’s addiction stems from past trauma or whether it’s the other way around. In all honesty, this isn’t even what’s important. What is important is for both of these problems to be worked on simultaneously in order to achieve the best results.

And this is where EDMR therapy enters the scene. If you need to work on your traumatic past, then this form of therapy is going to be your main ally. It has the power and potential to target the problem from a few different aspects. Most importantly, it helps you resolve and process your trauma much more quickly than standard forms of therapy. Due to all of these reasons, we consider this form of therapy to be a powerful tool in our heroin and crack cocaine rehab center in Boynton Beach. Of course, it goes without saying that we also use other forms of treatment to treat your addiction. It’s because we combine many different approaches that we are able to successfully treat a person’s addiction and help them embark on a sober lifestyle.

A psychiatrist's office.
Many rehab facilities have staff members who can perform EDMR therapy with the goal of treating the root cause of addiction.

Dual diagnosis

If you know that you have a dual diagnosis, then EDMR is going to be a useful tool for you. Having a dual diagnosis means that you have been diagnosed with a mental disorder and addiction. We know that many mental disorders stem from traumatic events. The only scenario where you won’t be able to benefit from this form of therapy is if your disorder is genetic. In that case, EMDR won’t be able to do anything for you. The focus of this therapy is on traumatic events.

Where can you get access to EDMR treatment?

There isn’t a specific place where you can get access to EDMR therapy. The question should be who can provide you with this type of treatment, as the place where you attend it is basically irrelevant. What is important is for a licensed and qualified professional to be at the forefront of the process. You need someone who knows what they are doing, as playing around with traumatic memories isn’t recommended. We usually suggest that you go online and research all the qualified specialists in your area. It’s important to choose someone who you are going to feel comfortable with. Therefore, whether this person is going to be a man or a woman, it’s important that you can be yourself around them. And, of course, it wouldn’t hurt if you had a few word-of-mouth recommendations to go with your online research.


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