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EMDR Therapy

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Addiction doesn’t just come out of nowhere. 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.”

Addiction is not a moral failing. Many people turn to drugs to deal with the incredible pain they have experienced. For these people, the way to treat their addictions is by addressing that pain.
This is where EMDR therapy comes in. It is a unique treatment that allows patients to process their traumatic memories. Despite its value, few people know about it.
Understand what it entails and you can launch your comprehensive addiction treatment program. Here is your quick guide.


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is a form of talk therapy. A patient talks with a therapist one-on-one about their experiences.
What is distinct is that the therapist prompts the patient to move their eyes. As the patient recalls their memories, the therapist directs them to move their eyes back and forth. Some therapists also use finger tapping to direct a person to listen as they are talking.
Eye movement is tied to cognition, the process of perceiving and processing stimuli. A 2018 study found that when people move their eyes side-to-side, they can recall memories better. By moving their eyes, patients can understand more details and get to the core of why they are addicted.
Eye movement can also keep the patient engaged. It can work as self-stimulation, calming a person down as they talk.
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


Therapists begin EMDR trauma therapy by creating a patient history. They find a few targets that they can help their patients process.
Patients first focus on background events. They work their way up to their traumatic memories with time. The therapist teaches their patient stress-relief strategies, such as dialectical behavior therapy.
Then the therapist and patient transition to the patient’s traumatic events. As the patient talks, they identify a visual image associated with the event. They recall it as they move their eyes.
Then they think about negative feelings attached to it, especially about themselves. Once those feelings are out of them, they identify positive feelings. The process repeats until the patient feels free from their stress.
The patient keeps a journal, recording their feelings and memories. They track how they use stress-relief strategies. They remain in touch with their therapist, discussing potential events that would require different approaches.


EMDR therapy is a bold way for patients to understand the roots of their addiction. It is talk therapy during which the patient moves their eyes. This helps them process their memories.
Therapists move step-by-step, slowly asking a patient to recall their thoughts. After they do, therapists move to discuss positive feelings. This helps a patient see new ways of coping with their stress besides drugs.
Find EMDR therapists with experience and compassion. The Burning Tree Ranch is Texas’s leading EMDR center. Contact us today.

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LMSW, LCDC | Counselor
Kristina Robertson serves as Counselor at Burning Tree Ranch. Holding both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Social Work, Kristina’s greatest joy is “watching our clients learn to love themselves again.” An avid equestrian, mother to twenty-one horses, and all-around animal lover, Kristina serves as a bright shining example of long-term recovery in action. Her commitment to whole person health: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual makes her an invaluable member of the Burning Tree Ranch clinical team. As a distinguished Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Zeta member, Kristina believes deeply in each client’s pursuit of becoming their best selves.

"who is a burning tree client?"

Beth Legacki, Burning Tree Ranch Alumni