EMDR is an evidence-based therapeutic technique which is most effective with treating trauma, but can be also used to treat a multitude of other issues. EMDR works to process powerful feeling memories that are “trapped” or “conditioned” in the brain. For example, the fight-or-flight survival responses (all of the feelings, body sensations, and beliefs) that occur in an individual during a traumatic event – these feelings then plague the individual, contributing to nightmares, feelings of panic/anxiety, or other symptoms of PTSD. EMDR helps to “uncondition” and reprocess these feelings so that these symptoms become greatly reduced and oftentimes can be completely resolved.
I first started hearing about EMDR being used to treat addictions this past September (2013) when I attended an EMDR training in Phoenix, AZ. The EMDR technique used to treat addictions is called the Feeling-State Addiction Protocol (FSAP).
The theory is that addictions (both behavioral and substance) are created when positive feelings become rigidly linked with specific objects or behavior (much like the rigid links conditioned during trauma, except this time connected with euphoria or pleasurable feelings). EMDR therapy can be used to help “unlink” these positive feelings from the object or behavior – in essence, removing the excitement of the shopping or gambling binge, for example.
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