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EMDR Therapy

EMDR Therapy in Sacramento


If you’re looking for a place where you can safely face your addictions and take control of your life, the professionals at Diamond House Detox are here to offer hope. Our inpatient and outpatient facility in northern California provides EMDR therapy that — when coupled after detoxification — could heal both your body and your mind. Learn about the development of EMDR therapy, how it works and what it could do for you as you focus on changing your life.

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What Is EMDR?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a non-traditional approach that helps clients deal with underlying traumas. Unlike most types of trauma therapy, EMDR doesn’t rely on medications or extensive talk therapy. Instead, it uses rhythmic eye movements similar to the REM sleep cycle to desensitize clients to their emotionally charged memories.

Each EMDR session typically lasts about 90 minutes. During your EMDR session, your therapist will use finger motions, tapping or audio to complete sets of bilateral stimulation to help you process uncomfortable feelings associated with traumatic events. While you move your eyes back and forth, your therapist will ask you to recall visuals surrounding your trauma. Using an eight-step program, you and your therapist will then work on shifting your thoughts about your trauma from negative to positive. The eight phases are as follows:

  1. You and your therapist will discuss your history and determine your ideal treatment plan. This phase of EMDR helps your therapist identify the target issues for treatment.
  2. Your therapist will teach you grounding and safety techniques to help you cope with high levels of symptoms associated with anxiety and fear that may arise while engaging in bilateral stimulation. The goal of this preparation phase is to help you feel a level of control while undergoing EMDR therapy.
  3. In a collaborative approach, you and your therapist will decide which traumatic events you will process during EMDR. Your therapist will ask you to think about the worst image related to a certain traumatic event and will encourage you to think about a negative cognition you have about yourself as you picture that image now — for example, “I’m worthless” or “I don’t deserve love.” Your therapist may introduce positive beliefs that contradict your negative thoughts.
  4. Your therapist will lead you in eye movement exercises as you recall the event. After each exercise, your therapist will ask you to stop and take a deep breath. You will then try to wipe clean your thoughts. The length of each exercise will depend on each client and therapist.
  5. The fifth step in EMDR therapy, often called the installation phase, will focus on increasing positive thoughts and rewriting negative thoughts. Together, you will focus on changing your negative thoughts about yourself into positive beliefs — such as “I survived” and “I am strong.”
  6. The therapist will ask you to refocus on the memory while they look for any lingering signs of tension. You will mentally scan your entire body, looking for any sensations, which you will communicate to your therapist.
  7. In the seventh phase, the therapy sessions will come to a close. Your therapist will help you use different methods to wrap up what you have and have not processed during the session. Afterward, you’ll use the self-calming techniques you learned in phase two after every session and keep a log of self-calming activities throughout the week.
  8. You and your therapist will evaluate your progress at the beginning of each session. During your subsequent treatments, the cycle will repeat. Once you have already undergone the assessment steps, each new session will begin on the fourth step.
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The History of EMDR Therapy

EMDR is now a recognized type of psychotherapy, but it is a relatively new approach to treating people with traumatic experiences. Dr. Francine Shapiro, then a graduate student, established EMDR in the late 1980s. She noticed a decrease in emotional distress while outdoors. She began to research how rapid eye movement affected emotional distress. Over time, Shapiro developed the standardized approach that is now EMDR therapy. Since its development, EMDR has helped clients with post-traumatic distress disorder (PTSD) and several other conditions.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

Therapists typically administer EMDR therapy in sessions as long as 90 minutes. While other forms of psychotherapy focus on extensive talking or the use of medication, EMDR therapy focuses on a client’s memories and their eye movements. Our brains help us recover from traumatic experiences, but sometimes we need external help. EMDR helps your brain process distressing memories and manage the stressful feelings they elicit. While multiple studies have demonstrated the efficacy of EMDR therapy, there is still discussion in the medical community on what exactly makes it effective.

During a session, the EMDR therapist will request that you recall a specific disturbing memory or experience. You do not have to communicate what you are recalling or feeling to the therapist. Rather, the therapist will instruct you to engage in bilateral eye movements using a variety of different tones. Clinical studies have shown this type of eye movement helps reduce negative thoughts and emotions. The therapy aims to help you make the necessary neural connections in your brain to process traumatic experiences and move past them. Imaging scans performed on people before and after EMDR therapy have shown changes in the hippocampus region of the brain, which plays a role in memory and emotion.

As with any other type of mental health treatment, it is essential to understand the safety and potential side effects of EMDR therapy. This therapy is a safe option. Side effects of EMDR therapy may be physical or emotional. Physical side effects may include lightheadedness. On the emotional side, you may remember more traumatic memories or have more intense emotions during your sessions. Following your sessions, you may be more vivid dreams. These side effects are typically short-lived, but you should always talk to your therapist about these experiences.

How Can EMDR Help With Anxiety?

The effects of trauma can be long-term, and they can manifest in many different ways. Anxiety is one of the most common psychological symptoms of trauma. EMDR can benefit people with past traumas and address feelings of anxiety. When you are seeking this therapy to treat anxiety, your therapist will ask you to focus on things that trigger your anxiety or feelings of panic. The therapy will then help you process these feelings and better manage anxiety. Your therapist may also teach you different techniques you can use outside your therapy sessions. Though more research would help understand what makes EMDR so effective, clinical studies have shown positive results regarding EMDR as a treatment for anxiety.

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How Can EMDR Help Addiction?

Many people turn to addiction as a result of the traumas they’ve faced. People who have experienced significant trauma are far more likely to become addicted to substances than those who have not. And without the tools in place to deal with trauma’s effects sufficiently, people often find themselves trapped in a cycle of addiction to medicate their intense emotions. Instead, EMDR therapy offers hope to clients by addressing the trauma driving their addictive behaviors.

How Long Does It Take for EMDR to Work?

Multiple well-regarded organizations recommend EMDR as a possible treatment for PTSD, including the:

  • American Psychiatric Association
  • Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense
  • International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
  • National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services America
  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
  • World Health Organization

Each person and their experience of trauma is unique, which means there is no one single length of ideal EMDR treatment. Research has shown people have had a reduction in symptoms after undergoing six to 12 EMDR therapy sessions. Other research has shown the positive effects of EMDR can persist after people are no longer actively undergoing the therapy.

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Best Candidates for EMDR Therapy

EMDR is especially useful in treating mental health conditions with a known onset — such as phobias or depression stemming from childhood trauma. Notably, research has proven the treatment’s success for people with PTSD. However, therapists use it experimentally for many other conditions — including addictions. You and your therapist might choose to try EMDR to treat psychological conditions like the following.

  • Addiction: Trauma can be the root cause of many other issues, including addiction. EMDR therapy can address the traumatic memories that have played a role in substance abuse, helping clients process and become desensitized to those negative experiences and the feelings they cause.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks: Anxiety and panic attacks can be the result of unresolved trauma. The goal of EMDR therapy is to help clients focus on these memories while removing the negative emotional and often physical response.
  • Eating disorders: Our relationship with food can be fraught with challenges. People who struggle with anorexia and bulimia often experience a traumatic event or series of events related to their eating disorder. The eating disorder may be a coping mechanism. EMDR therapy can help these clients remember and process these traumatic events as a step toward reforming a healthy relationship with food.
  • Personality disorders: Though originally developed to treat PTSD, EMDR therapy has successfully helped manage several other conditions. For example, this therapy has been an approach to treating personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD has multiple symptoms, typically related to difficulty regulating emotion. BPD can lead to instability, impulsivity and struggles to maintain healthy relationships. This condition can be challenging to diagnose and treat. EMDR may be one potential treatment, focusing on helping the client process and manage traumatic experiences and feelings.

EMDR Therapy Near Me

At Diamond House Detox, we have dedicated ourselves to both your physical and mental recovery. We offer dynamic treatment options designed to meet the different needs of different clients, which is why we offer EMDR therapy in Sacramento, designed to aid in your addiction recovery. Our therapists are ready to help you with EMDR training in Sacramento. If you live in northern California, we encourage you to contact us today to learn more about admittance to our home or for additional information about our intensive outpatient program. Our staff is ready and waiting to welcome you to our life-changing treatment program.

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