There are many different forms of therapy. Each of their methods and goals differs, which is helpful since each of us is different and have different stories and life experiences. The ideal is to be able to choose from various forms of therapy in order to find the best possible healing for our unique situation. We may have heard about EMDR, but is EMDR the right therapy for me?
What EMDR Is
The therapy known as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful tool that enables us to reprocess traumatic memories or events. The process involves using a visual, auditory, or tactile stimulus while a therapist carefully guides us through images and memories associated with past trauma.
Unlike most forms of talk therapy, this technique seeks to directly access trauma in our brains and reprocess the memories with safe, healing thoughts surrounding the traumatic events. In this way, EMDR is a very rapid form of therapy that can be very successful. What might take months or even years to heal in talk therapy can be healed in just a few sessions with EMDR.
What EMDR Does
Have you ever heard music that was stuck on a loop, playing the same section of a song over and over? Sometimes, our brains function like that, too. We have experiences and memories that get stuck in our minds and replay over and over, preventing us from moving forward or being able to create or keep new memories. The goal of EMDR is to break that loop, or cycle, and heal that part of our brain so that we can create those new experiences.
How EMDR Can Help
When our brains get stuck with specific events or experiences, we can become emotionally stuck, too. Often the experiences are negative or painful, and they cause us to have negative behaviors, such as substance abuse. We need to be able to heal and move on from those experiences so that we can heal from our substance abuse or negative behaviors.
EMDR is a great tool to make this happen for us. By reprocessing the experiences and replacing them with constructive thoughts surrounding those memories, the need for substances that we had surrounding those memories no longer exists. The concept is that when we take away the negative events or memories, we take away the negative behaviors, as well. This is how EMDR can help with substance use.
Healing from Trauma
Too many of us experience trauma at some point in our lives. Whether it be loss, long-term illness, abuse, violence, or other traumatic events, the events can create very painful wounds that do not heal in our minds. In order for us to heal, we need to address the trauma and allow ourselves to heal from it before we can move on.
Some events are particularly traumatic, and they replay in our dreams and in our waking hours as if they are actually happening. This is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) Healing from PTSD can be particularly difficult because it is a complex disorder caused by intense memories.
Whether it be trauma from our childhood, trauma experienced more recently, or PTSD, EMDR is one of the leading treatments for various types of trauma. Because it goes straight to the source and allows us to reprocess the traumatic memories and events, EMDR is an ideal way to heal from trauma.
The Relationship of Trauma and Substance Use
Substance use usually begins as a way to escape or numb our pain. We seek a way to avoid the pain because we do not know how to heal ourselves from it. Trauma is a common source of pain that drives people to use substances. Unfortunately, as we may have learned the hard way, substance use creates more problems and more pain and makes it more difficult for us to heal from trauma.
If we only seek treatment for our substance use and do not heal from our trauma, then our chances of relapse increase exponentially. Even only treating our trauma does not help us to heal from our substance use. We need to seek healing from both simultaneously for the best chances of success. Ideally, we will seek residential treatment for substance use in a facility that also uses EMDR and is experienced at treating trauma.
The Power of EMDR
There are benefits to every type of therapy, and in our treatment for substance use, we might actually use multiple different therapies, or modalities, to help in our healing. The power of EMDR, however, is the speed and efficiency in which it can heal trauma, even serious trauma like PTSD. Because the method goes straight to the source of our pain and is able to reprocess the traumatic memories and replace them with safe, constructive memories, we are able to heal from our trauma.
By healing from our trauma, we can simultaneously heal from our substance use. By removing the pain from our minds, we remove the original cause of our substance use. This allows us the freedom to heal our recovery, as well. That is the power of EMDR.
Find out if EMDR is the right tool for your healing at AToN Center. We offer many different therapeutic modalities to give you the best options in your treatment. Call (888) 535-1516 today to find your healing. Let us help you navigate your recovery with all of the tools you need.