Here at Scottsdale Providence, we believe in offering our clients the best range of evidence-based, research-backed treatment modalities to help them find lasting recovery from substance abuse, mental health and behavioral issues, and trauma.
EMDR is one such modality our team is passionate about. Otherwise known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR is a useful tool for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related distress. Research indicates that trauma and addiction are often co-occurring disorders, making EMDR an ideal inclusion in a comprehensive treatment program.
Here are the Basics of EMDR:
Extensive scientific and clinical research has determined that EMDR is an effective method to help people heal from their past traumatic experiences. It’s believed that past traumatic experiences continue to cause problems in our lives when the memory of that experience is not processed properly.
Unprocessed memories contain all the negative emotions, thoughts, and even the physical sensations that were present at the time of the event. When these memories are triggered, so are the negative elements of the initial event, causing symptoms of PTSD or other mental health disorders. This type of therapy is intended to change how the memory is stored in the brain, thereby lowering or even eradicating the distressing symptoms. Anyone who has suffered from past trauma can benefit from EMDR.
Is EMDR Effective?
Studies and clinical research have demonstrated that EMDR is a safe and effective method to help people heal from past trauma and PTSD. Adverse life experiences have a significant impact on our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. Past traumatic events, if not processed properly, can continue to create issues in our lives and relationships long after the event has passed. Unprocessed experiences can invoke the range of negative emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations that were present at the time of the event. When these memories are triggered, so are the negative responses to the initial event, causing symptoms of PTSD or other mental and behavioral health issues, including addiction. EMDR seeks to address the way the body and mind store memories, in an effort to process them and move forward.
Keren Poirer, LCSW and Primary Therapist, shares her thoughts on why EMDR is effective: “I myself have experienced EMDR and it is quite transformational in the sense that you aren’t having a long dialogue about the trauma. You aren’t going into extreme detail about those traumatic experiences. And that in itself can be very comforting, giving a sense of safety that you don’t have to open that wound.”
Keren elaborates on EMDR’s unique power to enable the mind to heal itself, just as the body does—and how this incredible process can stop the cycle of distress associated with past trauma: “EMDR is amazing because it uses the individuals’ own natural ability to heal. Physically, if we have a wound or food poising – our body just automatically moves to heal that. Psychologically, our brain is no different – it wants healing. When we experience traumatic events, they often become fragmented in our brain. The trauma resides in a different part of our brain and gets “stuck,” and when past traumatic memories are “stuck,” it causes distress symptoms in the present. EMDR is really useful to address those distresses and even go back to what is causing them. It’s almost like you can keep targeting a weed, or you can dig underground and get it by the roots.”
How Does EMDR Work?
Complete EMDR treatment addresses memories, current triggers, and future challenges. While a patient focuses on a memory, the practitioner incorporates bilateral (right-left) stimulation, such as eye movement and sounds. This affects how the memory is stored in the brain, and the effect is a reduction in the pain and distress of the past traumatic event.
Clients say the benefits are worth it.
Keren Poirer shares some of the feedback she has heard: “Clients have reported the experience of targeting a memory, from let’s say five or ten years ago, and experiencing a successful resolution from that. But what they find is that the work they have done in a previous memory creates positive, long-lasting change in the following months and years. So we see that EMDR has a ripple effect. It allows clients to experience more change.”
Who couldn’t benefit from more positive change!? If you are curious and would like more information about EMDR or any other treatment modality we offer, get in touch. Our expert staff is here to guide people through every phase of the treatment process with compassion and experience in order to help them meet their goals and create the best outcomes.