By Dan Shiode, PhD
Clinical Director of LVRC
EMDR is a treatment approach for helping people with a history of trauma. Research indicates EMDR to be a safe and effective method for treating people with a history of trauma or disturbing life events. By applying a comprehensive treatment process that involves the use of bilateral stimulation techniques, such as directed eye movements, EMDR can help to desensitize and reprocess traumatic memories, reducing emotional distress and other symptoms caused by emotional trauma.
EMDR is based on the idea that healing from emotional trauma occurs in a similar way to healing from physical trauma. Just as the body works to heal our physical wounds, our minds naturally move us toward healing from emotional disturbance. Exposure to trauma can interfere with that natural healing process, freezing our traumatic experiences and altering our feelings, thoughts, reactions, self-perceptions, and beliefs. Utilizing EMDR can help restore our mind’s ability to help us heal from those disturbing life events and memories.
In addition to being used to effectively treat trauma, EMDR protocols have been developed to utilize this approach with several other problems. Two of these other protocols include the DeTUR protocol for treating urges or cravings in addiction and the Overcoming Pain protocol. The DeTUR protocol, developed by A.J. Popky, Ph.D., focuses on the decreasing the effect of triggers for craving or urges to engage in addictive substances or behavior. The Overcoming Pain protocol, developed by Mark Grant, M.A., focuses on utilizing bilateral stimulation to stimulate brain processing, promoting healing and desensitization to pain.
In my work with clients both in private practice and at Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC), I’ve found that utilizing all three protocols in an integrative approach usually works best. In this way, I can apply the most effective treatment strategy for a particular client. Clients often present with some combination of chronic pain, history of trauma, and addiction, although not necessarily all three issues. Some may have mainly trauma, but addiction may also be a problem if they used drugs or alcohol to numb their feelings. For clients who have a history of trauma, it is usually most effective to apply the standard EMDR trauma protocol.
Get more complete information about EMDR, including a full description of the treatment process and referral information. You can also read more about trauma and addiction by checking out The Correlation Between Trauma and Addiction by Johanna O’Flaherty, PhD, LADAC II, CEAP.
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