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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a one-on-one form of psychotherapy that reduces trauma-related stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and improves overall mental health functioning.  It makes a difference in the life of addiction clients – meaning it shows long-term efficacy toward continued sobriety.

Why Refer to EMDR Therapy for a Newly Recovering Alcoholic/Addict?EMDR Therapy Program Tampa FL residents trust

Unfortunately, many individuals with substance use disorders also have experienced one or more traumatic events or experiences…. And these play a role in the person’s addictive behaviors. Many clinicians believe that addiction cannot be fully overcome without addressing those issues.  This is not to say that EMDR is the only way to alleviate trauma, or that it is a “cure-all” approach.  EMDR combined with a 12-step foundation, group therapy, CBT and other techniques provides a foundation of “clearing out” the old, addictive pathways or patterns and the establishing new, coping behaviors or functional pathways.

What Is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy helps reprogram limiting beliefs and overcome negative emotions stemming from trauma that keep people trapped in addiction. It is an advanced form of treatment that utilizes dual stimulation exercises as its primary approach to addiction recovery.

One of the challenges in overcoming trauma is that reasoning logic and emotional logic work separately. For example, a person may be able to logically understand that they are no longer in danger, but on an emotional level they are not able to move on and still experience the fear of being in imminent danger. EMDR works by isolating a harmful emotion in the brain and reprocessing it to create a more neutral feeling about the traumatic event, alleviating the extreme emotions that can lead to panic attacks, feelings of hopelessness, and depression.  

Not only do most patients that undergo EMDR treatment find it easier to arrest addictive urges, but they learn newer, healthier ways of coping with and viewing past traumas and emotionally painful incidents. This can lead to an improved quality of life overall, in addition to lasting addiction remission.

How Many Sessions Does it Take and When is it Offered?

EMDR can alleviate the symptoms of trauma in just 1 session.  In most cases, working with trauma is like “Peeling An Onion” and can take from 2 to 8 sessions.

How Do We Refer for EMDR Counseling at Board Prep?

If our Board Prep client has completed the acute withdrawal phase of their recovery, then they are likely a good candidate for EMDR therapy. EMDR is not appropriate for clients with seizure disorder.

To schedule a screening, contact Board Prep Counselor, Dan Laukaitis, LCSW/MCAP through Ian Rivera.  Dan is generally available at the following times: Saturday from 12:00 PM onward, Monday and Thursday evening at 8:30, and Wednesday evening from 5:30 PM onward if Monday, Thursday, or Saturday don’t work for the client’s schedule.

High Rates of Success

It’s thought that up to 60% of recovering drug and alcohol addicts are also the victims of extreme trauma. It’s also been theorized that when a given patient has a history of repeated unsuccessful attempts at rehabilitation, untreated trauma is likely at least part of the equation. Such traumas can include but are not limited to childhood abuse, difficult experiences related to wartime service, being a witness to catastrophic events, and more.

EMDR is a treatment that is often recommended to addicts that have dealt with these traumas and others like them for a reason. It doesn’t just treat the addiction. It also treats the emotional pain that is contributing to that addiction, lowering the likelihood of relapse at some point in the future. Other people that most often benefit from this type of treatment include firefighters, police officers, soldiers, and first responders – people in high-stress professions that potentially expose them to repeated emotional trauma.

The most common motor task used in EMDR is side-to-side eye movements that follow the therapist’s finger; however, alternating hand tapping or auditory tones delivered through headphones can be used. The exercises are repeated until the client reports no emotional distress. The EMDR therapist then asks the client to think of a preferred positive belief regarding the incident and to focus on this positive belief while continuing with the exercises. The exercises end when the client reports with confidence comfortable feelings and a positive sense of self when recalling the target trauma. The therapist and client review the client’s progress and discuss scenarios or contexts that might trigger psychological distress. These triggers and positive images for appropriate future action are also targeted and processed.

How EMDR Improves Your Quality of Life

The ability to finally get the better of a debilitating addiction is only part of the possible outcome of EMDR therapy for substance abuse and addiction. Getting a handle on long-standing traumas and residual emotional pain from the past often improves the patient’s quality of life in ways they never foresaw, especially in the case of people living a sober life.

People’s self-esteem tends to improve, as does their ability to cope with stress of any kind. In many cases, an improved ability to maintain healthy relationships and be productive at a profession are also common results.

Does EMDR Therapy Reduce Likelihood of Relapse?

When it comes to drug and alcohol rehab, no one plans on having to repeat the process at a later date because of a relapse. However, avoiding relapse can be far more difficult for some people than others. EMDR therapy comes attached to one of the lowest rates of relapse out there. Even long-time addicts with a lifelong history of substance abuse find that they finally achieve lasting success when they give EMDR therapy a try.

Learn About Our EMDR Therapy Program

Are you in need of an effective EMDR therapy program in Tampa, Florida? If so, contact BoardPrep Recovery Center today at 866.796.4720 for more information. Our team provides eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy that you can count on.