Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, also known as EMDR, is a therapy that can be especially effective in helping clients work through prior trauma.

At Beaches Recovery, we offer EMDR therapy as part of our comprehensive approach to addiction treatment. Our treatment programs are designed to treat addictions to alcohol, prescription drugs, opioids, cocaine, and other substances. In addition, many of our clients struggle with their mental health alongside substance abuse issues. EMDR helps these clients understand and work through traumatic experiences that might have contributed to their use of drugs and alcohol.

Our team can help determine if EMDR is right for you. We create personalized treatment plans for everyone in our care and want to help you find freedom from drug and alcohol abuse. 

Contact Beaches Recovery at 866.605.0532 today to learn more about EMDR, our addiction treatment programs, and our admission process.

What Is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a highly effective therapy that uses a series of left-to-right eye movements to help participants process and become desensitized to painful memories.

This therapy was developed in the 1980s by Dr. Francine Shapiro, a woman who began using rapid eye movements to help rid her own mind of damaging and traumatic thoughts. Since 1990, many other doctors and therapists have begun using this form of therapy to help their clients rid themselves from the dangers of trauma. EMDR doesn’t try to repress negative emotions or memories, which rarely works in the long term. Instead, it aims to help patients become less sensitive to painful memories of traumatic events in their past.

Typically, individuals participating in an EMDR program will go through at least 12 sessions. Each session is directed by a certified therapist who has gone through formal training.



How Effective Is EMDR?

This therapeutic approach has been shown to be more effective in helping individuals overcome PTSD and other mental health issues stemming from traumatic experiences than cognitive-behavioral therapy and other types of talk therapy. One study, published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychology, found that it helped 77% of individuals who participated.

What to Expect from EMDR

What happens in an EMDR program? There are several phases to treatment. At Beaches Recovery, every one of our clients receives an individualized treatment plan, which might include EMDR as well as other types of therapy.

Typically, EMDR sessions take place once a week. Our clients participate in group therapy on other days of the week as well as experiential therapies, which could include art therapy and music therapy.

During sessions, clients typically sit in a chair or lie down. The most important thing is that clients feel comfortable during the process. They will be asked to think about their past traumatic experiences, which can be challenging at first. Many individuals who have experienced trauma try to avoid thinking about it, and bringing up the emotions they associate with the memory can be difficult.

As the client thinks about their experiences, the therapist will move their finger or a light for the client to follow with their eyes. They will move their eyes rapidly which is what helps them feel desensitized to the thoughts of the negative experience.

Phase 1

In the first phase of treatment, clients will talk to their therapist about their background and the specific things they want to work through during therapy. Some of the things they might want to process include:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Violence
  • Loss

During this time, the therapist will develop a treatment plan for the client’s unique needs.

Phase 2

In the second phase, the therapist will help the client understand what EMDR is, how it works, and why it will be helpful for their specific situation. In addition to the actual eye movements, the therapist might help the client build coping skills like breathing exercises that can help them cope with anxiety.

Phase 3

This is the last phase before the client and therapist begin using eye movements to desensitize them from traumatic memories. During the third phase, the client and the therapist will develop ways to approach negative emotions in the present. This process can be similar to cognitive-behavioral therapy, which promotes mindfulness.

Phase 4

In this phase, the client will begin the process of thinking about traumatic experiences while following the eye movements under the direction of their therapist. This can help desensitize them to the experiences. In addition, they will work to reprocess these memories by inserting positive emotions into their recollections.

Phase 5

At this time, the therapist will encourage the client to both insert more positive feelings into their perception of the past as well as develop healthy coping skills for stress and other emotions in the present.

Phase 6

This phase involves identifying tension in the body that could be related to the traumatic memories. This tension could be a sign that there is still desensitizing and reprocessing to be done.

Phase 7

At this point, the client and therapist will discuss how they have met the initial goals of treatment and identify any areas for improvement.

Finally, if the client needs to work through any other memories that have resurfaced or develop any new coping skills, they can return to any of the phases. However, once they have met their goals, they can complete their course of treatment.

Great program. I received excellent individual and group therapy. I enjoyed the recreational activities like surfing, camping, and running on the beach. The doctors, therapists, and staff were all very helpful, personable, and non-judgmental.I would recommend this place to any individual suffering with addiction of any kind. I have been to multiple treatment centers, but none could do what Beaches Recovery did for me. It is a great program combing individualized therapy with a preparation to live everyday life sober and clean. They saved my life and for that I am eternally grateful.


Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse

Participating in military combat

Being the victim of a violent crime

Witnessing a violent crime

Being involved in a natural disaster

Each of these events, as well as many more, can lead an individual to struggle with PTSD.

PTSD can cause an individual to experience flashbacks to their traumatic experience, which could come in the form of nightmares. It can also lead them to avoid situations where they will be reminded of past trauma. Some individuals with PTSD experience changes to their personalities, suddenly struggling with anxiety or depression.

Eventually, those who have experienced trauma in the past and are now struggling with PTSD, anxiety, or depression might turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. However, while these substances can seem like an escape at first, they can lead to more problems. Substance abuse and co-occurring mental health issues can become a harmful cycle. An individual might use alcohol to feel less anxious, for example, but drinking too much can actually exacerbate feelings of anxiety.

A treatment program that addresses both mental health issues and addiction simultaneously can help these individuals heal. EMDR is one tool that Beaches Recovery uses to help clients work through past trauma and heal from the effects of addiction.

Beaches was my third recovery center and thankfully, my last. I have been clean for over 3 years. Outside of the gorgeous setting of Jacksonville Beach and incredible sober living facilities, Beaches has an amazing faculty with some of the nicest and most caring people I have met. Many of the people who work at Beaches have been right where I have, which means they can relate, empathize, and work with whatever condition you show up. They have a very dynamic and holistic approach to recovery – no matter what the lifestyle may be, they have something in their program to suit everyone. This was my last stop along the addiction highway and I will be forever grateful!


Benefits of EMDR During Addiction Treatment

We use EMDR in our treatment programs for drug and alcohol abuse for a number of reasons.

  • Healing from past trauma can help reduce the desire to drink or use drugs
  • EMDR can help individuals work through trauma that they have experienced as a result of addiction
  • Exposure treatment can reduce anxiety
  • EMDR can be effective in treating depression

Since many clients struggle with a history of trauma as well as addiction, it helps when rehab facilities offer EMDR to patients. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing has the power to relieve clients of their traumatic memories and decrease negative emotions associated with that trauma. As a result, it will be easier to tackle addiction once and for all.

EMDR at Beaches Recovery: Call Us Today

Beaches Recovery in Jacksonville offers a wide array of addiction treatment programs and therapies. Many of our clients benefit from EMDR, and this therapeutic approach might be combined with other therapies.

Our goal is to help our clients break free from addiction and co-occurring mental health issues. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, PTSD, anxiety, or depression, our treatment center can help. In addition to our EMDR therapy program, we offer:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy
Dialectical behavior therapy
Experiential therapy
Motivational interviewing
Trauma therapy

If you are in need of detox services, our partner center, Tides Edge Detox, provides high-quality residential detox programs. At Tides Edge, clients participate in therapy while receiving round-the-clock care from an experienced medical team. Withdrawal symptoms can be challenging, but in these detox programs, clients receive the support they need for long-lasting recovery.

To treat addiction fully and with lasting results, use all the resources available to you. At Beaches Recovery in Jacksonville, Florida, EMDR is just one of the therapies used in treating clients. Call 866.605.0532 today to learn more about how our Jacksonville drug rehab center can help you get on the track to addiction recovery.

Learn More About Addiction Therapy at Beaches Recovery

At Beaches Recovery, our goal is to help you through every stage of your recovery from detox to rehab and aftercare. To find out more about our addiction treatment center, call us at 866.605.0532.