How to Know if EMDR Therapy Can Help Your Anxiety or Trauma

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on February 16, 2020.

Eye movement reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has more attention in popular media than ever. Last year, Grey's Anatomy included a character who gets EMDR, and Evan Rachel Wood mentioned receiving the treatment. Now, many people are curious about EMDR's benefits. Discover the concept behind EMDR, how the treatment works and what it could do for your dual diagnosis.

About EMDR

Therapists use EMDR to help people relieve their psychological stress through desensitization. The concept of this therapy involves exposing the person to their traumatic memories while making the memories less severe through additional stimulation. In other words, eye movements "distract" the brain from the full trauma of the memories, making them easier to process.

How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR involves eight phases of treatment that happen over multiple sessions. The eye movement aspect of therapy occurs from the fourth to the seventh step. Learn more about each phase:

  1. Treatment planning: The client and therapist explore the client's trauma history to plan treatment and set goals.
  2. Preparation: Before EMDR, the client gets to know the process involved and what to do if the trauma thoughts become too intense.
  3. Assessment: During memory assessment, the client and therapist activate the target memory and identify its components.
  4. Desensitization: This first eye movement phase involves focusing on the memory until it doesn't feel distressing.
  5. Installation: In this second eye movement phase, the client focuses on converting negative thoughts to positive ones.
  6. Body scan: The third eye movement phase focuses on processing the physical response the client has to the memory.
  7. Closure: During the fourth and final eye movement phase, the client and therapist close the session.
  8. Evaluation: The eighth EMDR phase happens at the beginning of the next session, when the client and therapist reflect on future treatment goals.

What Other Types of Therapy Exist for Anxiety and Trauma?

People who have anxiety or a history of trauma can also participate in other evidence-based therapies. These treatments include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): During CBT, the client learns how to process their thoughts and feelings related to their trauma.
  • Psychodynamic therapy: In psychodynamic therapy, the therapist and client work together to uncover unconscious thoughts.
  • Group counseling: Group therapy sessions give people the chance to explore their traumas with others who understand their experiences.

How Does EMDR Help People With Dual Diagnoses?

In people with dual diagnoses, EMDR can help alleviate trauma that causes triggers for drug use. Many cases of addiction involve past trauma or mental health conditions that increase the urge to use drugs. By relieving trauma through EMDR, a person in recovery can better manage their symptoms.

Get EMDR for Dual Diagnosis in California

At Diamond House Detox, we support dual diagnosis clients as they journey through recovery. We provide EMDR therapy as part of our trauma therapy services. As our client, you'll get comprehensive addiction care in a comfortable and accepting environment.

To learn more about EMDR and the other services offered at Diamond House Detox, contact us online today.