Call: (866) 287-2877

Contact Burning Tree

Our Promise: Deliver life-changing clinical interventions to those who have been unable to find freedom from the unending cycle of relapse.

Send us a Message

Therapies

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy for Addiction and Trauma Recovery

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has proven to be a highly effective treatment for individuals struggling with trauma-related disorders.

In a 2019 report, The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors wrote that “[t]he correlation between traumatic exposure… and substance use disorders has long been recognized.”

Addressing the underlying trauma beneath an individual’s mental health and substance abuse is critical in treating a destructive addiction. EMDR can be incorporated into a comprehensive treatment approach to help them process and resolve traumatic memories.

"Seven of 10 studies reported EMDR therapy to be more rapid and/or more effective than trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.

EMDR therapy provides physicians and other clinicians with an efficient approach to address psychological and physiologic symptoms stemming from adverse life experiences."

EMDR at Burning Tree Ranch

Burning Tree Ranch is a specialty program dedicated to the treatment of chronic addiction and mental health. Our program is long-term, progress-based, and highly intensive.

Unresolved trauma is often related to our client’s inability to stay sober. EMDR allows our clients to work through unprocessed trauma and helps them to heal from emotional disturbances related to traumatic events.

Burning Tree Ranch Logo in White

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR is an evidence-based psychotherapy that was originally developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The therapy works by helping individuals process and resolve traumatic memories through a combination of eye movements, bilateral stimulation, and guided imagery.

The use of eye movements in EMDR is based on the theory that these movements are similar to those during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a phase of sleep associated with processing and integrating information. By engaging in these eye movements while recalling distressing memories, the brain is believed to reprocess the memory in a way that reduces its emotional impact.

Through targeting and reprocessing specific memories, EMDR aims to help individuals reduce the emotional and physiological response associated with the trauma, building resilience to the related stressors.

Stark Red Rose Bushes with Horses at Burning Tree Ranch
EMDR works by helping individuals process and resolve traumatic memories through a combination of eye movements, bilateral stimulation, and guided imagery.

The Eight Phases of EMDR Therapy

In most cases, EMDR treatment consists of eight distinct phases. These eight phases form the standard protocol for EMDR therapy, although the process may be adapted based on the client’s needs and progress.

Illustration of Number 1

History and Treatment Planning: The therapist assesses the client’s history, develops a treatment plan, and identifies potential targets for EMDR processing.

Illustration of Number 2

Preparation: The therapist explains the EMDR process, establishes a therapeutic relationship, and teaches the client relaxation and coping techniques.

Illustration of Number 3

Assessment: The client identifies a specific memory or event to target, along with associated emotions, physical sensations, and negative beliefs about themselves.

Illustration of Number 4

Desensitization: The client focuses on the targeted memory while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation (eye movements, taps, or tones) guided by the therapist. This phase continues until the client’s distress level decreases.

Illustration of Number 5

Installation: The therapist helps the client strengthen the positive belief they want to associate with the targeted memory.

Illustration of Number 6

Body Scan: The client is asked to focus on the targeted memory and identify any remaining physical sensations or discomfort.

Illustration of Number 7

Closure: The therapist ensures that the client has reached a stable state and provides techniques for self-care between sessions.

Illustration of Number 8

Re-evaluation: At the beginning of each new session, the therapist assesses the client’s progress and determines if additional processing is needed for the previously targeted memory or if new targets should be addressed.

EMDR for Trauma-Related Disorders

EMDR has been extensively researched and is recognized as an evidence-based treatment for PTSD and other trauma-related disorders by various professional organizations, such as the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization.

For PTSD: Studies have shown that EMDR can significantly reduce symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and hypervigilance. Complex PTSD, which occurs as a result of prolonged and severe trauma, can also be relieved through EMDR therapy.

For Anxiety Disorders: In treating anxiety disorders, EMDR has shown promise through successful treatments targeting the underlying traumatic memories that contribute to anxiety. Through treatment, it’s possible to help individuals reduce their overall anxiety levels, which can significantly improve their quality of life.

Meghan Bohlman, Clinical Director

“Unresolved trauma is often related to our client’s inability to stay sober. EMDR allows our clients to work through unprocessed trauma and helps them to heal from emotional disturbances related to traumatic events.”

Meghan Bohlman, LPC, LCDC, EMDR-Trained, Clinical Director

Photo of Engraved Rock with the Burning Tree Ranch Logo
Studies have shown that EMDR can significantly reduce symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and hyper-vigilance.

EMDR for Addiction Treatment

Research has consistently demonstrated a strong link between trauma and addiction, with numerous studies highlighting the high prevalence of co-occurring post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUDs). Some estimates suggest that up to 50% of individuals seeking treatment for substance use also meet the criteria for PTSD.

Trauma, whether experienced in childhood or adulthood, can have a profound impact on an individual’s mental health and emotional well-being. The distress, fear, and helplessness associated with traumatic experiences can be overwhelming, leading many individuals to seek relief through the use of substances such as alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications.

EMDR therapy offers a promising approach to breaking this cycle by directly addressing the unresolved trauma that’s fueling the addiction. Desensitizing the individual to the traumatic memories linked to their substance use can reduce the necessity of using said substance as a means of coping.

Video Cover: Alumni Testimonial for Burning Tree Ranch

Combining EMDR with Other Therapies

The best treatment outcomes necessitate a comprehensive, individualized treatment approach incorporating multiple evidence-based therapies.

EMDR therapy provides a powerful tool for processing traumatic experiences, reducing emotional distress, and developing healthier coping mechanisms.

By integrating EMDR into addiction treatment, individuals can break free from the grip of trauma and addiction, leading to improved mental health and a greater chance of sustained recovery.

Taking the Next Step

Incorporating EMDR in Long-Term Treatment

EMDR has been extensively researched and is recognized as an evidence-based treatment for PTSD and other trauma-related disorders by various professional organizations, such as the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization.

Studies have shown that EMDR can significantly reduce symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and hyper-vigilance. Complex PTSD, which occurs as a result of prolonged and severe trauma, can also be relieved through EMDR therapy.

In treating anxiety disorders, EMDR has shown promise through successful treatments targeting the underlying traumatic memories that contribute to anxiety. Through treatment, it’s possible to help individuals reduce their overall anxiety levels, which can significantly improve their quality of life.

Video Cover: Introduction to Burning Tree