ONE80CENTER Recognizes And Values The Maturation Of EMDR As A Highly Effective Treatment For Trauma And Addiction
Based on extensive past experience, the clinical staff at ONE80CENTER realized long ago how difficult it can be for recovering addicts with issues of unresolved trauma to achieve long-term sobriety. When it comes time to face the ups and downs of everyday life sober, clients with untreated trauma tend to relapse. With the damage of the trauma still present and easily triggered, they fall back on drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse and other addictions have been there solution to dealing with the pain of trauma for such an extended period of their lives. In recent years, treatment professionals have come to appreciate the immense clinical value of using EMDR (acronym for ‘Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing’) to help clients with untreated trauma embrace the path of long-term recovery. ONE80CENTER Clinical Director Bernadine Fried has been a supporter of and believer in EMDR for many years.
EMDR Recognized By American Psychiatric Association
Is EMDR considered a legitimate method of treating trauma? Without question, the techniques and methods of EMDR have been accepted and validated. The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense, and the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies currently recognize EMDR as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. In addiction, with the connection between PTSD and Substance Abuse Disorders widely recognized, EMDR has been matured into part of a highly effective treatment model for addicts and alcoholics.
Developed by California psychologist Francine Shapiro in 1987, EMDR is a new method for alleviating disturbing memories and the psychic damage done by traumatic experiences. Shapiro has described EMDR as, “A comprehensive method of psychotherapy addressing problems that are based on earlier life experiences” (Lovett, 1999; p.XI). EMDR is more than just asking a client to move their eyes back as they ponder a traumatic memory. Rather, EMDR presents an eight-phase model that relies on the insights and techniques of several different psychotherapeutic modalities. The EMDR treatment phases allow ONE80CENTER’s clinical staff to work directly with a client’s past trauma to help them process the damage.
Eye movements, or other forms of bilateral stimulation such as auditory tones and tactile sensations, serve as physical mechanisms that help a client process traumatic memories. Although research on the neurological basis of EMDR remains somewhat theoretical, what has been revealed is compelling. Bilateral stimulation provides access to information trapped in the lower regions of the brain. When trauma is experienced, the base parts of the brain in the limbic system take over like a shield of instinctual protection. As a result, the damage of the trauma remains buried in this difficult to access and communicate with part of the brain.
EMDR and the Accessing and Treatment of Traumatic Memories
A problem is that when a client relives a traumatic memory, the logic-based region of the brain tends to shut down and does not offer access to the trauma. The shut down reaction is a result of the more primal regions of the brain taking control. Such a reaction to the re-experiencing of trauma is nothing less than the survival mechanism kicking in a second time. What remains so intriguing is that the bilateral stimulation produced by EMDR seems to provide viable access to the lower regions of the brain. With such access, the ultimate goal is to uncover material that is ensnared in the protective vise of the survival mechanism. Once accessed, the traumatic memories can be shifted into actual awareness in the more adaptive and logical regions of the prefrontal cortex. Such a shift offers an opening for effective therapy and eventual resolution.
In counseling for addiction and PTSD, the triggers experienced by each client often shut them down emotionally as they are uncovered in therapy. In these cases, therapeutic treatment based in reasoning and talk therapy tends not to be as effective as needed. The experience of a traumatic trigger brings out the protective instinct in the limbic system of the brain. As a result, the majority of clients become unable to make effective progress. EMDR is a workable answer to such challenging therapeutic boundaries. ONE80CENTER has practiced EMDR as a treatment for trauma since our genesis, and we recognize the ongoing maturation of this therapeutic tool.