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Riverwalk Ranch's Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center in Dallas uses the latest methods in treating substance abuse. Our therapies include a range of evidence based psychotherapies.
One therapy we use to address the distress and traumatic memories associated with our patients' drugs or alcohol abuse is EMDR.
What Is EMDR Therapy?
Patients who forego EMDR therapy can expect sessions to last up to 90 minutes. The treatment begins by a qualified therapist moving his or her fingers back and forth in front of the patient’s face while requesting that they attempt to follow these finger and hand motions with their eyes.
Then gradually, during this time, the EMDR therapist will ask that the patient try and recall a past frightening or unpleasant event that may have recently taken place. While pondering on these traumatic experiences and hurtful memories, it is encouraged and recommended that the patient include the different emotions that go along with them.
Francine Shapiro developed eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in the 1990s as a specialized form of psychotherapy. It was first thought of and established after she noticed that specific eye movement might be capable of reducing the intensity of disturbing events and thoughts.
While participating in the EMDR therapy process, patients are asked to reminisce on past traumatic events or images that may have been sad, painful, or otherwise troublesome. Although this treatment option is relatively newer than many other forms of therapy, several evidence-based studies have proven it to be successful for the specific treatment for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
The World Health Organization published articles stating that eye movement desensitization is based on the idea that negative behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are produced as the result of several traumatic memories that have not yet been processed.
Who Benefits From EMDR Treatment
EMDR therapy treatment has been tested and proven to help adults of all ages, including many children. Because of the minimal side-effects and success rate to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and other mental health disorders, this form of therapy is used to address a wide range of difficult challenges that many individuals suffer from in their lives.
A couple of disorders that EMDR is frequently used as the appropriate treatment method include:
- Bipolar and other depressive disorders
- Loss of a friend or family member and grief
- Addiction and substance use disorders
- Violence, along with verbal and physical abuse
- Personality disorders
- Panic disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Psychotic symptoms
- Stress-induced skin occurrences
- Performance anxiety
- Fatigue and other negative physical sensations
- Medical complications, such as chronic illnesses
- Eating disorders
- Self-esteem and confidence issues
- Treating PTSD
- Sexual assault
- Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
- Dissociative disorder
How Might EMDR Therapy Affect The Brain?
Recovering from traumatic events or memories and avoiding negative thoughts is a skill that each of our brains is naturally programmed to do. It is a process that involves a form of communication between:
- The Prefrontal Cortex - known to analyze information while controlling the person’s behavior and emotions.
- The Amygdala - acts as a kind of alarm or signal, pointing out stressful or traumatic events.
- The Hippocampus - helps with learning, typically includes memories specifically about safety and danger.
Although many of us feel that we can adequately manage previous traumatic experiences and sometimes even resolve them completely, there is a great possibility that they may not be processed without the necessary guidance.
EMDR therapy helps these memories to be processed correctly in the brain while allowing normal healing and other natural brain functions to resume. The original experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze responses that are triggered by stress become comfortably resolved.
How Might EMDR Therapy Affect The Brain?
Many studies on this somewhat newer treatment therapy option that have been conducted show that as many as 90% of individuals previously suffering from some form of trauma resulted in showing no sign of PTSD symptoms after as little as just three sessions. Many of these positive outcomes have been shared directly by The EMDR Institute, which has published articles and case studies about the close to thirty controlled outcome studies and tests that they have conducted.
The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have established different clinical practice guidelines and have issued them together. These guidelines outline how EMDR therapy for the treatment of PTSD is “strongly recommended” in both military and non-military societies. It is also noted that these specific treatment approaches have been just as effective as many of the other conventional psychological treatments in some studies while proving to be less effective in others.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has continually stated that administering EMDR therapy options for treating symptoms of acute and chronic PTSD had proven to be effective. As also outlined by the APA, EMDR treatment may be specifically useful for those individuals who may have a hard time speaking about different traumatic events that they have unfortunately had to experience. The APA also notes that additional research needs to be done to more accurately determine whether improvements from EMDR are capable of being sustained over extended periods of time.