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03.28.2022

Is EMDR Therapy Right for You?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a method of managing traumatic memories to take away their terrifying power. Often, experiences that threaten our lives or put us in danger crop up not as a memory but as a current experience. Even though the threat is long past, your physical reaction may be as though the danger is present. If you were abused as a child, your body may respond as though the abuser is right behind you. This type of trauma response is nearly impossible to control and extremely hard on your body, mind and spirit. Many trauma sufferers find relief or escape with their drug of choice. By using EMDR to better manage those memories, the trigger to reach for a drug to shut them down will also be easier to manage.

Those who have suffered severe trauma throughout their lives may struggle to compartmentalize these agonizing memories. Numbing the whole of experience may be the best choice or coping skill that they can find. As drugs and alcohol create a buffer or a cushion between your daily activities and the traumatic memories that create panic and terror, your tolerance will probably expand. Many forms of self-medication will require higher dosages over time. This will eventually lead to physical addiction and a deeper need for the drugs.

Detox is More Than Physical

Once you enter treatment, your initial detox may be focused on your body. For example, you may need to undergo a managed detox to support your cleansing organs as the drugs leave your system. As your body heals, you may find that traumatic memories start to crop up.

Those who suffer from traumatic memories may be frustrated by these intrusions. You may even question your sanity. If you were abused as a child and your abuser is dead, the sense of panic that fills you when a memory crops up can be incredibly frustrating; you know that, as an adult, you are safe, but your body is in full fear mode.

Instead of questioning your brain or feeling that your sanity is in question, you may need to understand that your brain is really trying to keep you alive. The lessons you learned as a trauma survivor at any point in your life has helped you to stay alive to this point. While EMDR can help you better manage memories, the ability to function effectively when you are at risk will also be available if you can manage traumatic memories without numbing all of your reactions.

After Physical Detox

When you get through the physical struggle of detox, you may find that your brain starts to behave badly. Traumatic memories may crop up. Negative self-talk may take over your inner narrative. Mental illness, depression and anxiety may flower.

If you have used drugs to better manage trauma or symptoms of mental illness, detox and treatment are your time to build new skills and learn better ways to control your condition. This process can be wrenching. You may need to come to grips with

  • shame that you feel about your addiction
  • fear of failure or ostracization as a person with a mental illness
  • anguish over your past actions as those memories come back up

Addiction is an illness that can actually start as a tool to manage other illnesses. However, the promise of release and control that alcohol and drugs can offer you is false. Your illness can be better managed and treated with tools, therapies and products that won’t destroy your health or lead to more mental health problems. EMDR can be one of those therapies.

The Actual Treatment

EMDR therapy requires you to face your traumatic memories. However, as you work through the memories, your EMDR therapist will use physical stimulation to allow your brain to re-file those traumatic memories into safer, less painful files. Many EMDR therapists use physical stimulation to help you focus from side to side. EMDR therapy is based on REM, or rapid eye movement. REM sleep occurs as you dream; it’s a very flexible time for your brain. Your EMDR therapist can help you to understand exactly where those memories will be stored and how you can replace the panic and pain with healthier, more positive memories.

Your therapy options will grow as you move past detox and get further into treatment. Building the ability to better manage trauma is critical to healing and emotional strength. Ready to get started? Call us today at 844-903-2111.