Therapeutic Methods
Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)

What is EMDR? EMDR is the abbreviation for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, a therapeutic technique that is extremely beneficial for people who have been struggling with unresolved trauma. EMDR was initially developed in 1987 for men and women struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The therapeutic method is guided by the Adaptive Information Processing model, which considers the symptoms of unresolved trauma a direct result of disturbing memories that were never adequately processed. This model suggests that once a memory has been processed, the symptoms resolve and the person in question no longer engages in self-destructive behavioral patterns resulting from the trauma.

How does EMDR therapy work? According to the American Psychiatric Association:

“An accelerated learning process is stimulated by EMDR’s standardized procedures, which incorporate the use of eye movements and other forms of rhythmic left-right (bilateral) stimulation (e.g., tones or taps). While clients briefly focus on the trauma memory and simultaneously experience bilateral stimulation (BLS), the vividness and emotion of the memory are reduced.”

Basically, a trained therapist controls the eye movements of the guest and helps him or her process memories in a non-invasive way. This helps stimulate the connection between the two hemispheres of brain, which process both rational and emotional memory.

Trauma & Substance Abuse

Trauma and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies suggests that between one-quarter and three-quarters of men and women who have survived a traumatic experience admittedly engage in alcohol abuse. Up to 80 percent of Vietnam veterans who seek help for PTSD simultaneously suffer from a substance abuse disorder, and men and women who have reported sexual abuse or assault have higher rates of substance abuse than those who have never experienced a sexual trauma.

“Adolescents with PTSD are 4 times more likely than adolescents without PTSD to experience alcohol abuse or dependence, 6 times more likely to experience marijuana abuse or dependence, and 9 times more likely to experience hard drug abuse or dependence.”

Regardless of what type of traumatic event you have been through, there is a higher chance that you will engage in self-medication the longer the trauma is left untreated. At the Plymouth House we offer a trauma-informed addiction recovery program that utilizes a range of proven therapies to help our guests overcome addiction and all underlying issues. EMDR is only one of the therapies we utilize — and it has consistently proven to be an effective component of our integrated program.

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More About EMDR

EMDR does not take place in one single individual therapy session. EMDR therapy follows a structured eight-step approach that includes the following:

Phase One: history-taking – During this phase of the treatment process the EMDR specialist sits down with the guest and learns about his or her personal history in depth. The specialist asks a series of questions that help illuminate personal history with substance abuse and trauma. As personal history is uncovered a personalized treatment plan is carefully developed.

Phase Two: preparing the guest for processing the memory – For people who are suffering from moderate or severe trauma, the second phase of EMDR might take longer than one session. During this phase the client learns a range of techniques that will help him or her deal with uncomfortable emotions as they arise. The EMDR specialist works to build trust during this phase, so that the guest feels comfortable opening up about past experiences.

Phase Three: assessing the memory – The guest has the opportunity to thoroughly address one target memory. In order to prevent an unnecessary reliving of this memory, the assessment is completed in a non-invasive way. Rather than focus on the traumatic experience, the specialist encourages the guest to share negative beliefs about self that might have stemmed from the experience, like, “I am unworthy of love,” “I am bad,” or “I am helpless.” One of the main goals of EMDR is to help guests let go of these negative, false and self-destructive beliefs and replace them with positive and reaffirming beliefs.

Phases Four through Seven: reprocessing the target memory to adaptive resolution – Reprocessing the memory does NOT mean reliving the memory. Steps Four through Seven can be broken down further: Desensitization, Installation, Body Scan and Closure. During these phases of the EMDR process the therapeutic work is being done, and the specialist is guiding the guest through the actual treatment.

Phase Eight: Evaluating the results of the treatment process – The beginning of each new session begins with an evaluation of past results. The EMDR specialist takes note of all areas of improvement while recognizing what experiences or negative beliefs still need to be worked through.

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Benefits of EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing comes with many proven benefits. These benefits include:

  • Allowing guests to process painful memories without having to relive these memories. EMDR specialists use control of lateral eye movements to help guests work through trauma without flashbacks or the risk of retraumatizing.
  • Tackling a variety of underlying issues with one therapeutic method, including unresolved trauma, eating disorders, PTSD, anxiety disorders and depression.
  • Helping guests overcome negative and self-destructive belief systems.
  • Helping guests who might not feel comfortable addressing past trauma in a traditional talk therapy setting.
  • Identifying the unique clinical needs of each individual guest, which ultimately helps the therapeutic team develop a personalized treatment plan and aftercare plan.

Because EMDR is non-invasive, there are no severe potential side effects. While there is less evidence supporting the fact that EMDR is an effective treatment for substance abuse, this technique is extremely beneficial for people who are struggling from a dual-diagnosis disorder (addiction and trauma or PTSD). To learn more about our program of trauma-focused addiction recovery, contact us today.

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The Additional Trauma-Oriented Therapies We Offer

EMDR is only one of the therapeutic services we provide. At the Plymouth House we believe that the most effective treatment comes from a combination of techniques.

Other Therapeutic Methods We Offer:

While our program of addiction recovery is therapeutically focused, it is deeply rooted in the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our two-pronged approach to recovery works to instill guests with the life skills, tools and coping mechanisms they need to stand on their own two feet once inpatient treatment and PHP come to a close.

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    The Plymouth House is a 12-Step retreat and addiction treatment center nestled in the picturesque foothills of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Our campus sits on 60 acres of natural land and is an idyllic place for individuals to begin laying the foundation for lifelong trauma and addiction recovery. Since 2002 The Plymouth House has been utilizing an intense 12-Step process to help individuals recover from addiction. In 2021, The Plymouth House joined Guardian Recovery Network, a national leader in substance use disorder treatment. The Plymouth House has combined its expertise as a successful 12-Step retreat with Guardian’s world-class medical and clinical care, providing guests with a unique approach to comprehensive recovery. With a combination of evidence-based therapies like EMDR, 12-step program involvement and a range of holistic treatment options, we provide each and every guest with the tools and coping mechanisms he or she needs to maintain fulfilling sobriety for years to come.

    To learn more about our program or to get started with our straightforward admissions process, contact us today.

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