Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is a highly effective, proven method of talk therapy used to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the American Psychiatric Association, EMDR therapy is an effective treatment for not only treating PTSD, but also acute stress disorder and other mental health disorders. More recently, EMDR treatment is being used in addiction treatment, especially when a PTSD patient has substance abuse problems.


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a therapy procedure that was initially created to treat trauma but may also successfully address the symptoms of various anxiety and mood disorders.

The approach combines fast eye movements with cognitive therapy to assist patients in:

• Processing past trauma

• Reducing painful emotions linked with upsetting memories

• Counteracting and replacing negative self-statements with positive, empowering beliefs


Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., developed eye movement desensitization and reprocessing treatment in the late 1980s. A look back at the development of EMDR shows a significant incidental discovery made by Dr. Shapiro that led her to design this powerful trauma treatment.

According to the EMDR Institute, Dr. Shapiro noted that her eye movements when recalling traumatic memories decreased the influence of her negative emotions. She chose to delve more into the relationship between eye movements and trauma and used her findings to develop a standard treatment protocol for EMDR therapy.

While EMDR was initially created to treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental health practitioners have broadened its usage to various conditions. EMDR is currently being used to treat depression and anxiety, and shows promise as an effective treatment for addiction. EMDR appears to be even more effective in addiction treatment when the patient has co-occurring PTSD.


The eye movement desensitization and reprocessing process consists of eight therapeutic steps. During a typical EMDR therapy session, the client is momentarily prompted to concentrate on a particular distressing memory during treatment.

While the participant concentrates on the painful memory, they are simultaneously subjected to stimuli that cause fast eye movement. This is a fundamental part of the eye movement desensitization process. The standard EMDR apparatus used to produce rapid eye movement might differ. Stimuli can be visual, tactile, or audible in nature.

Stimuli, regardless of kind, always alternate between the left and right sides of the body. Stimuli that are commonly used during EMDR therapy include:

• Tactile stimuli include rhythmic body motions, electric pulsators, or tapping on opposite sides of the body.

• Auditory stimuli include noises heard through headphones or tiny speakers placed on either side of the patient.

• Visual stimulation, such as the therapist’s hand or a lit wand moving back and forth at a predetermined rate.

The combination of memory recall and eye movement alters how memories are associated with emotions. While the individual can still recall traumatic or unpleasant memories after completing EMDR treatment, the emotional suffering connected with them is considerably decreased.


EMDR treatment is divided into eight stages. A consistent, successful method includes all eight of these phases spread out across several sessions. The eight phases of EMDR treatment are as follows:


The therapist thoroughly examines the client’s psychological history. The therapist uses this information to identify and prioritize specific memories for reprocessing.


The therapist assists the individual in connecting positive thoughts to the traumatic event while also confronting and challenging negative and selfdefeating views about the issue.


The person scans their body for physical reactions to the traumatic incident, and the therapist and the person name these physical feelings for further processing.


Establishing trust and expectations as part of a successful therapeutic partnership is the most important component of any treatment procedure. The therapist also teaches the individual fundamental self management and relaxation strategies that they may employ throughout the EMDR therapy procedure during the preparation phase.


The therapist and the subject collaborate to select a specific image connected with the target memory and any negative thoughts associated with the image. The individual is then instructed to concentrate solely on the negative self-belief. Next, the therapist instructs the client to choose a positive message that they would want to internalize and replace the negative self belief with.


Rhythmic stimuli are used during this phase, and the traumatic event and image are assessed jointly. When the stimuli are provided, the individual is advised to be open to whatever sensations, thoughts, or memories come to them.


The purpose of this step is to resolve any residual bodily responses to the memory. This is accomplished by employing the self-management strategies taught throughout the preparation phase. At the end of therapy, the individual is returned to a condition of stability.


At the start of each new session, the EMDR therapist evaluates the prior session’s findings to assess how helpful it was.EMDR treatment has been demonstrated to improve the symptoms of PTSD and other mental health issues in both the short and long term.


Experts in mental health services are broadening the scope of what EMDR can treat.

While EMDR was initially intended to treat major psychological trauma associated with post traumatic stress disorder, it has lately been employed as a therapy for other mental health conditions.

Treatment facilities for co-occurring drug use and mental health issues are also increasingly utilizing EMDR for healing addiction.


Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe mental illness caused by traumatic events or extreme emotional distress. Many combat veterans and military members on active duty suffer from PTSD. Distressing events experienced durings service has a longlasting effect. The US Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes PTSD as a common mental health disorder found among veterans. However, anyone can develop PTSD if they undergo a traumatic experience.

Some common causes of PTSD include:

• A disturbing event, such as a car accident, or robbery

• Living through a natural disaster

• Sexual or physical assault

• Traumatic memories of childhood abuse

• Death of a loved one

This list is not exhaustive, and when treating people with PTSD, it is important to remember that traumatic experiences differ from person to person. Anyone can develop PTSD, just as some people may live through a traumatic event and not go on to develop PTSD. PTSD symptoms include:

• Having repeated nightmares and flashbacks of the traumatic event

• Avoiding people or places that remind the person of the trauma

• Substance abuse

• Suicidal tendencies in more severe cases

Often, PTSD patients will turn to drugs and alcohol in order to soothe symptoms.


Many people who struggle with substance abuse have also suffered trauma, which is frequently the root cause of a person’s addiction.
EMDR is increasingly being used in treating addiction to alleviate underlying trauma at the root of substance use disorders.


EMDR is a newer form of treatment. Despite this, the credibility of this therapy has rapidly grown. The criteria for offering EMDR therapy services were set early on, and any new therapist who delivers EMDR counseling must fulfill these stringent criteria.

Before marketing their services, EMDR therapy practitioners must undergo extensive training. Providers must first be certified as a counselor in their state before obtaining certification to administer EMDR therapy. EMDR credentials are valid for two years and must be updated through continuous education.

Many Psyclarity Health facilities provide EMDR therapy for treating trauma, addiction and co-occurring disorders to guarantee that our clients have access to the most up-to-date therapeutic approaches. All our EMDR therapists are highly skilled and accredited. Get in touch with us today for more information about EMDR therapy and how we can help you.