Should I Incorporate EMDR Into My Healing Journey?

Addiction Recovery Publishing Addiction Recovery September 5, 2023

Should I Incorporate EMDR Into My Healing Journey?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a mental health treatment method most commonly used to address the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we offer EMDR therapy services as a part of our personalized treatment made to fit the needs of each individual. With highly trained professionals and experience with various types of trauma, our staff is committed to providing compassionate care that promotes healing at the core root level. This article will discuss EMDR, how it works, who it can benefit, and how Exclusive Hawaii Rehab used EMDR therapy as part of our personalized treatment program. 

What Is EMDR?

EMDR is a treatment method that involves specific eye movements used to help process traumatic memories and experiences. With EMDR therapy, the individual is encouraged to focus on a trauma memory while they go through bilateral stimulation. These side-to-side movements are associated with reduced emotions and vividness that come with traumatic memories. 

EMDR is a well-researched, effective therapy method proven to help people heal from trauma and PTSD symptoms. This therapy incorporates cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques with bilateral eye movements or other forms of left-right stimulation as a way to process and “reprogram” a traumatic memory. A therapist may use their finger as a guide for your eyes, or other forms of external stimuli may be used, such as hand taps, sounds, or a chime that moves from one ear to another. 

Trauma can impact every aspect of a person’s life, and when trauma is not properly stored in the brain, it can impact natural healing processes. EMDR works by addressing and reprocessing traumatic memories so that a person can truly begin to heal from them and manage their triggers.

How Is EMDR Different From Other Therapies?

Other treatments tend to focus on a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that stem from traumatic experiences. However, EMDR focuses on the memories of these traumatic experiences. EMDR is made to help a person discover and address unresolved traumatic memories in the brain and carry out the brain’s natural healing process. With EMDR, a person doesn’t have to do “homework” in between sessions or continue talking in detail about a distressing subject. Rather, the therapist works with you to identify and process a traumatic memory so that a person may disarm their triggers and find relief from the negative emotions and feelings that stem from their traumatic experiences. 

The first three steps of EMDR therapy are similar to other psychotherapies because they focus on the individual’s history. However, EMDR takes a more neurobiological approach than other traditional therapies. What is also different about EMDR is that it doesn’t necessarily involve as much talking as other therapies, specifically during desensitization, where the therapist focuses on the bilateral movements. 

Who Can Benefit From EMDR?

EMDR may be used as a treatment method for children, adolescents, and adults. Individuals who may benefit from EMDR therapy can include those with:

EMDR is used to help treat a wide range of mental health conditions related to trauma. If you are considering if EMDR may work for you, consult with your healthcare provider or another professional on whether or not it may be beneficial for your needs. 

What Are the Benefits of EMDR?

Research on EMDR focuses on its benefits for individuals with PTSD and trauma-related symptoms. EMDR has been proven to address the negative impact and effects of trauma on both the mind and body. One of the main benefits of EMDR is that it helps individuals process traumatic memories without feeling overwhelmed or distressed by them. 

EMDR therapy helps a person process traumatic memories by breaking down the negative associations and emotions that come with them. In doing this, EMDR can help a person reduce and manage the symptoms of PTSD and other trauma-related conditions. EMDR therapy has also been shown to produce long-lasting results within a relatively short period of time. Trauma and other mental health conditions can significantly impact a person’s daily routine and quality of life. A therapy like EMDR helps address the problem at a core root level, allowing the brain and body to resume its natural course of healing. 

EMDR therapy can be a very powerful tool used as a standalone treatment method or as a part of a larger therapy plan. Either way, EMDR therapy can help a person gain control over their lives and become more confident and resilient. Trauma can take over a person’s life and impact their quality of life. EMDR can help a person find true healing and feel more at peace, more happy, and more relieved of the negative associations from their trauma. 

How Can EMDR Help With Trauma?

EMDR is most commonly used to treat PTSD but has also been proven effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions. 

The idea of EMDR is built on the adaptive information processing (AIP) model. This theory recognizes that the brain stores normal and traumatic memories differently. For example, when a person stores a normal memory, the brain networks and connects them to other memories that you have. However, when it stores a traumatic memory, the networking and connection don’t happen properly. This can cause a disconnect in a person’s experiences. The way that traumatic memories are processed can impact the brain’s natural healing course. This can also make the brain believe that there is still danger and cause a person to get stuck in the fight, flight or freeze mode.

Over time, as the brain goes without healing and this underlying trauma remains, past experiences that a person has had can link to new ones, creating an ongoing negative experience. Sometimes, the brain tries to suppress these memories and experiences as a way to try to avoid pain, yet it only ends up harming the person. EMDR helps by addressing underlying traumatic memories that hinder a person’s healing.

How Does EMDR Help With Triggers?

Triggers can be different for everyone. They are most often sights, sounds, smells, people, places, or other things that are connected with a trauma event. Being exposed to a trigger can cause overwhelming feelings of anxiety, distress, fear, panic, or anger. 

“Flashbacks” are common in PTSD, where a person experiences a sudden, uncontrollable, and overwhelming recollection of a trauma experience. They may feel like they are reliving the experience all over again. EMDR helps a person access trauma memories in different ways. By helping the whole brain and mind communicate across different areas, EMDR can help a person process past traumatic experiences. In doing so, it can also help a person address their triggers and disarm them so that they can begin to find true healing at the core level. 

EMDR doesn’t make you forget traumatic memories but rather helps you to process them and heal from them. Instead of feeling that your past is your present, you can gain control over your triggers and reduce your sensitivity to the traumatic event. 

How Does EMDR Work?

The brain has natural processes for recovering from traumatic memories and events. Communication happens through different areas of the brain, including the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. Humans have natural stress responses, including fight, flight, or freeze. When a person goes through a traumatic experience, they can become overwhelmed by emotions, images, and thoughts that remain even long after that moment is over. EMDR therapy works by helping the brain process these memories so that the brain can naturally heal. 

What Are the Different Steps of EMDR?

The eight phases of EMDR typically follow this structure:

  • History taking
  • Preparation
  • Assessment
  • Desensitization
  • Installation
  • Body scan
  • Closure 
  • Reevaluation of treatment effect 

EMDR usually begins with the therapist understanding a person’s history and asking them questions about their past, present, and future. A thorough understanding from the beginning can ensure that both the individual and their therapist work together towards the goals of the individual and towards true healing. In this stage, the individual and the therapist should work together to form a treatment plan suitable to their needs. 

During the preparation stage, the therapist will walk the individual through the process. Therapists should be sure to create a safe and comfortable space where the individual can ask questions and build trust. Following would be an assessment, where the target event is identified and discussed, and reprocessing begins. 

Desensitization involves side-to-side eye movements, sounds, or taps while focusing on the traumatic event. After desensitization comes installation. During installation, the individual learns to associate a positive belief with the traumatic event. The individual will then do a body scan to examine if there are any disturbances left in the body about the traumatic event so they can reprocess again.

Closure involves returning to a calm state and becoming present in the moment. Reevaluation usually begins at the beginning of the next session, where the individual and the therapist talk about their recently reprocessed trauma and take the next steps in treatment. 

Does EMDR Actually Work?

EMDR has been thoroughly researched and is supported by numerous studies. The World Health Organization (WHO) has placed EMDR on its list for recommended PTSD treatment. When used in combination with CBT, EMDR can be effective in treating a wide range of traumas, including war trauma, natural disasters, abuse, and much more. EMDR can also be effective in treating other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and phobias. It is important to remember that the healing journey is different for each unique individual. 

Can EMDR Be Used for Substance Use and Addiction?

Often, addiction can stem from underlying trauma and mental health issues. EMDR has proven to be an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health and trauma-related conditions which can help improve the success of addiction recovery. At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we focus on healing at the core root level. Every individual’s treatment plan is unique and personalized to their needs to ensure that they are receiving the best care possible. When used to help heal from addiction, EMDR therapy can help desensitize triggers, resolve unprocessed trauma memories, and help a person have more positive experiences without feeling that the past is the present. 

Does EMDR Help With Relationships?

PTSD and other trauma-related health conditions can impact every aspect of a person’s life, including their relationships. When a person has experienced trauma, it may be hard to trust others, be open about their emotions, or become close to others. Sometimes, underlying and unaddressed trauma can cause a person to isolate themselves or experience problems in their relationships. 

Through EMDR, a person can address any underlying traumas that impact the way they think, feel, and act. It can help them understand their triggers and also move forward and find true healing for themselves. As a person becomes more at peace with themselves, they can find more peace and clarity in their relationships as well. 

How Often Do People Do EMDR Therapy?

Therapy sessions depend on each individual’s unique needs. EMDR is typically done one to two times a week, with a total of six to 12 sessions, but some people may also benefit from fewer sessions. One thing that is different about EMDR therapy is that many people see shifts and positive changes after only a few sessions in a relatively short time compared to other forms of psychotherapy. 

At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we will work with you to develop the best plan that addresses your needs. Throughout the course of your stay, our staff is there with you to help accommodate and adjust plans according to what is working and what may not be. 

What to Know About an EMDR Therapist

Before working with an EMDR therapist, it is important to know their experience and training and to ask questions to make sure you feel comfortable and confident working together. They should be licensed and experienced with EMDR therapy and should provide a safe and comfortable space where you can work together toward true healing. 

At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, our therapists are experienced and trained in EMDR therapy. We understand the importance of true healing at the core root level. This means we help you address any underlying problems and help you work through them. Our personalized treatment is tailored to your unique needs, and we believe in being partners with you and offering support and guidance as you pave your own path to healing. Our therapists and other staff members are not only experts at what they do but truly care about healing lives and providing compassionate care. 

How Does Exclusive Hawaii Rehab Integrate EMDR Into Treatment?

Exclusive Hawaii Rehab believes in healing at the core root level. Our customized treatment plans offer a wide range of evidence-based therapies, like EMDR, to help each person get the best chance at long-lasting recovery. EMDR can be extremely beneficial for individuals who have experienced trauma and who have faced challenges with substance use. At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we focus on true healing. Through a holistic approach with a medical background, we are able to provide compassionate care that promotes healing from the inside out. EMDR can be just one part of your experience here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. 

Our luxury rehab center, settled in the serene and healing natural environment of the Big Island of Hawaii, helps individuals rediscover and reconnect with themselves. We understand that every individual’s healing journey is unique, and we want to collaborate with you in finding what works best for you and addressing the underlying issues. At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, you can find healing in nature, food, bodywork, mindfulness techniques, and in a wide variety of treatment methods that promote healing at the core. 

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a well-researched and effective treatment method for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related mental health disorders. Through EMDR, a person goes through bilateral eye movements or other forms of side-to-side stimulation to promote connection and communication between different areas of the brain in order to address and reprocess traumatic memories. EMDR can be especially helpful as part of treatment for substance abuse and addiction. At Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we focus on healing at the core root level. We offer a wide variety of treatment methods, including EMDR therapy, as part of our personalized treatment approach to true healing. To learn more about our luxury rehab center, call (808) 775-0200.