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Making EMDR Treatment Work in Recovery from Addiction


EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that helps people recover from difficult memories, especially traumatic ones. Many people recovering from addiction have difficult memories from the past, memories that led to the addiction or were caused by use and drinking. About 60% of people in recovery have experienced major trauma in their lives. Some of these old memories lead to repeated relapses.

Starting with the symptoms or complaints in your life today, your EMDR Therapy Vancouver therapist will help you identify the memories that are contributing to your current difficulties. Following a procedure developed, therapists reprocess old memories to help solve current problems. That’s where the long name comes from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Eye movements were included when this technique was first used. Nowadays, customers can choose which type of bilateral stimulation they like best.

During early recovery, it is always best to develop a solid recovery program with lots of support before starting in-depth psychotherapy. However, some issues may be resolved sooner than you think. Sometimes people in recovery get clogged or relapse because these old wounds haven’t healed. Your therapist will help you determine when it is best to start working on EMDR in your recovery.

EMDR therapy promotes natural healing.

Just as the human body has a built-in healing process for threats to physical health, so too does mental health after experiencing a trauma or emotional trauma. Our minds continuously connect us to health and survival. It was discovered that bilateral stimulation, alternating between the right and left sides of the brain, accelerates the natural process of returning to mental health.

EMDR treatment theory

Memories of traumatic experiences are stored in frozen memory networks. Cannot connect to other adaptive memory networks. The natural healing process goes sideways. With EMDR therapy, traumatic memories can be “unfixed” and linked to more adaptive and healthy memories. The exact way EMDR therapy works is not yet understood, but it has been studied extensively and has been found to be a very effective treatment for dealing with traumatic memories.

Uncovering the Traumatic Memory Network

After taking a history and preparing, the therapist will ask you to identify the images, emotions, self-beliefs, and bodily sensations associated with difficult memories. When you do this, your frozen trauma memory network is activated or turned on and ready to connect with healthier and more adaptive memories, associations, and thoughts. Remembering the shock or trauma-related associations can be painful, but the sessions provide support and tools to help you manage the emotions that arise. This includes Safe Place Exercises and positive internal resources you can use to self-soothe. This provides a way to disable old trauma memory networks when needed or desired and to slow down processing when desired.

“On” state management

A therapist can help you experience the right balance between activation and safety for processing difficult memories. In this “zone” memories thoughts, feelings, images, feelings, and bodily sensations are activated, but “it was then and this is now” and you are safe in the present moment in the therapist’s office. While you are in an intermediate position with one foot past and one foot in the treatment room, the therapist begins the left and right stimulation. There are many different types of left and right stimulation, and you and your therapist will decide which one is best for you. Whichever type you choose, EMDR processing can help you connect to more wholesome thoughts, images, and associations. You are only aware of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and emotions as they arise while experiencing left and right stimulation. Always remember not to censor anything. This free association process evokes a variety of sensations, emotions, and thoughts as the mind works through memory. After each set of left and right stimulation, the therapist will check what you are experiencing.

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