Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is used for healing emotional distress due to past traumas or negative experiences.

Is EMDR Therapy Effective for Addiction Treatment? 

Yes, when used to resolve distressing memories as one part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program. If distressing events have led to or worsened addiction, EMDR can be a helpful piece in an addiction treatment program.

What Happens in an EMDR Therapy Session?

During the first few sessions, an EMDR therapist collects history and information about distressing events. An EMDR client does not need to provide a lot of details about the events for this type of substance abuse treatment to be effective.

Then, during the next few sessions, the EMDR therapist will teach skills that can be used to manage any strong emotions that might arise during treatment. The therapist will then work with the client to help them identify negative thoughts or beliefs that are linked to the memories of the event, and the positive thoughts and belief they’d like to replace them with.

In the next step of EMDR therapy, the therapist uses eye movements (the client’s eyes follow a light or the therapist’s finger), alternating side tapping, or alternating tones to guide a client to reprocess the memories and replace the negative beliefs with positive ones.

Following successful resolution of these areas, the therapist will help the client assess if there are residual negative thoughts or beliefs and will help you target these in the same way. At the end of the session, the therapist may suggest a calming activity to close the session.

How Long Does EMDR Therapy Take? 

This depends on each individual person and the extent of the distressing events they would like to target. For some people, therapy can be completed in as few as 6-7 sessions. Otherwise, it may require more sessions as needed.