Do I have to have experienced a trauma for it to help?
The brain normally processes day to day events quickly and effectively. A trauma is normally seen as a life threatening event like a fire, war, physical or sexual abuse or a car accident. Tragic experiences and other painful events can affect the brain's capacity to process effectively.
What do you mean by Tragic or Painful events?
Verbal, sexual or physical abuse whether as an adult or child is an example. Others include the sudden death of a loved one, being fired, being humiliated, divorce, miscarriage, mishandled potty training or weaning. If you get that horrible pit in your stomach when you remember an event, it is a potential target for EMDR Therapy. One way I think about it is feeling haunted by a memory.
What about addiction?
Most people with addiction have experienced trauma at some time in their lives. EMDR Therapy can help heal the trauma that is driving the need to alter our reality. In addition, addiction causes us to violate our own values leading us to wonder what kind of person we are. This is horrifying and EMDR Therapy can help reduce the self-loathing that results.
The triggers that we experience in addiction are very similar to trauma triggers: people, places, things, smells, sounds, or events (like Father's Day). EMDR Therapy can target the cravings and the triggers and reduce the intensity so that it can be managed more successfully. Some cravings and triggers resolve completely.
I'm clean and sober, how can EMDR help me?
There are several stages of recovery. Getting clean is just the beginning. Now you have to deal with feelings and life on life's terms. EMDR therapy can help people tolerate feelings they used to use over. It is especially good for reducing the shame of things that we've done in our addiction. Of course, processing past traumatic events endangers many an addict's recovery.
You make it sound like it can resolve everything.
Nope. It is an amazing therapy, but in my experience it does not cure depression caused by neurotransmitter imbalances. I have had limited success with OCD symptoms. It doesn't work well with some types of brain injury or if the brain is compromised due to benzodiazepine, marijuana use. Other drugs including alcohol can interfere with processing. A drug called propranolol sometimes used for depression, migraine prevention or to lower blood pressure interferes with processing as well.
That's it for me for now. Stay tuned for more "Words of Wisdom"