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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapeutic intervention often utilized in the treatment of trauma. Specifically, EMDR assists residents in appropriately processing prior traumatic experiences that have continued lingering effects. Many individuals who abuse substances have had traumatic events occur that have not been processed which may fuel their addiction. It is not uncommon for individuals to self-medicate in an effort to cope with the trauma. When someone has had an acute traumatic event, there is a negative impact on the person’s sense of self. Because of the disturbing nature of the experience, the information processing system of the brain has been interrupted; essentially creating an unprocessed memory that can emerge as if the trauma is happening again.

According to Dr. Francine Shapiro – the pioneer of EMDR: “The hypothesis is that the procedural elements of EMDR . . . trigger a physiological state that facilitates information processing.” This information processing is believed to facilitate an “adaptive resolution,” meaning that prior trauma has been appropriately processed and is no longer disturbing to the resident. Through the utilization of EMDR therapy the resident is able to address the traumatic experience(s) in a safe, therapeutic environment. By releasing the trauma the resident is able to learn about the experience and move forward in their lives.

At AToN we have trained therapists who have years of experience in treating trauma through EMDR. EMDR can be used in conjunction with other modalities to help the resident with their trauma and co-occurring symptoms. Residents often report a great deal of relief even after just one EMDR session.

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